Out of Order.

If you have been following the Accidental Admins blog and/or our Twitter feed, you’ll have noticed that since the end of May I’ve largely been silent.

Honestly…I am struggling with burn out.

I have lost all sense of work-life balance and am leaning towards this horrible practice known as ‘work life integration.’ As a practice lead trying to launch offices in two new cities, I typically work a 50-60 hour week, with my work in the Answer community, User Group, and the Accidental Admins being extra on top of that.

I have a 3-year-old son, a Pirates season ticket plan, and the overwhelming desire to stop getting fat and return to my marathon running days of 4 years ago. I want to cook more meals instead of settling for what is fast, take my kid to the playground, Children’s Museum, Pirates games, while mixing in time for my wife, personal pursuits, home projects, and maybe squeezing in a vacation. At the same time, I feel an incredible amount of guilt and pressure to not let this wonderful blog and the Accidental Admin persona suffer.

In the face of trying to do everything, I’ve falling into the unhealthy habit of doing nothing. I stay up late at night worrying about everything I want get done, feeling so wiped out in the morning I waste the early hours, then try to play catch up for the rest of my day.

This photo is a great example.  On the 4th of July, I went to watch the fireworks from the Clemente Bridge in Pittsburgh, right next to PNC Park.  Great social media post that screams, ‘my life is awesome!’  The reality is the 3 hours before that and until 1am after getting home that night, I was working on a production deployment for a client.

I am struggling with focusing on my client work, have been letting my business development efforts slide, slowing down on my work in the Answer community, throwing together User Group meetings at the last minute, and have been letting my kid watch Minions and PJ Masks while I try to write the same sentences over and over again for this blog.

The focus and determination that usually characterize my efforts are lacking in every way; even cooking dinner, a personal pleasure, seems like so much of an effort that a microwavable something seems like the better idea most days of the week.

I haven’t used my home gym in over two months, have gained 5 pounds since April, am not sleeping well, and feel like I’m merely servicing all areas of life instead of being truly present.

Please don’t feel bad or pity for me; I’ve arrived at this point by letting my discipline and good habits slip more and more until I’ve arrived at this point. I’m writing this as a way for me to get honest with myself as to how far from the ideal I’ve wandered.

I’m hoping in putting this out into the world and admitting my struggles, I’ll find the motivation to bounce back and get things back on track.

I do have a plan for coming back from where I am, I’m just scared to write the details here so that I don’t feel accountable to it (knowing that I should…). There are enough hours in the day for me to accomplish everything I want; I just have to reconnect with the drive and discipline that allowed me to get there before.

I’m open to your thoughts and suggestions – I hope those of you that have been where I am can share your experiences and wisdom; I can use the help as I try to get back on track.



  1. Becky says:

    Tom! Your story is so relatable. I thought with summer I’d be more relaxed and chill. That’s so not the case. Over here with similar struggles! Fist bumps to you for having the courage to admit it that life isn’t always what we show online.

  2. William H Watson says:

    It’s easy to say, “work – life balance,” but hard to live. If you lived alone, it’s simply be a personal decision. You don’t. You can make changes, and it looks like you will, but don’t imagine that you will be the first person who have reached that golden balance. I think it doesn’t exist. Let’s be honest. Great accomplishments are rarely achieved in that zone. So, make compromises. I spent 5 1/2 years building an experimental aircraft (N116BW). Everything in my life suffered. I did it! Was it worth it? Who can say. I look back with pride and some regrets…. Good luck. You will need it.

    • Tom says:

      Thanks William – I agree. The things I want to achieve are not going to be possible within a 40 hour work week and I am ok with that – but I also need to figure out where those compromises need to happen to allow me to get a healthier balance.

      I think the weight of everything I want to do became paralyzing; I’m trying to take small steps towards finding what works for me; had to put this out there just to get real with myself about where I am.

  3. Alesia Dvorkina says:

    Hi Tom,
    Your message really resonates with me these days – “Our of Order”. Regrettably, I can put a checkmark next to every sentence… And I do know how you feel. I am also a User Group leader, a mom of 2 young kids, in a new role of Salesforce Solution Architect and managing/leading 2 teams (7 ppl and 5 ppl). In addition, somehow I committed to being a mentor/tutor for someone in the community (which is important for me but takes 5-6 hours on my weekend) + helping a good friend who is leading a small non-profit to stand up Salesforce + all the kids activities and birthdays and my personal development and my house and much more… But I also realized what is happening, so I started slowly canceling my commitments and for the first time in MONTHS I had a weekend where I had nothing to worry about but playing with my sons. I do agree with William’s comment above that I think it is important to realize that you have a choice and making choice for yourself. For me, it is SUPER hard to say, or I will slow down with my career and won’t learn and won’t give my all, but I decided that at this point of my life I HAVE to! And I am OK with this choice (it did take a few weeks to be OK with it). A few things that helped me:
    – taking a breath when I feel overwhelemed with all the urgent tasks NOW – and deciding “WIN”: “What’s Most Important NOW?”, not tomorrow, not next week, but now.
    – allowing myself to say “no” to good opportunities, and deliberately selecting to focus on GREAT opportunities.
    – saying “no” – the hardest thing, but last week I had to say no to CFO and CMO of our 1200 ppl company (and I was horrified), but it freed me up to focus on WIN (see above), instead of sitting on a meeting where nothing was decided.
    – pause for 3 seconds before saying yes and committing to a new thing
    – SLEEP as much as you can (I don’t get much of it, regrettably :))
    I hope it helps! It starting to help me, but I am a long way out of this! All the best to you!
    Alesia Dvorkina

    • Tom says:

      NO & WIN definitely need to find a place into my life.

      I think much like you described, someone asks something, I drop and respond, then don’t pick up and follow through on the other things.

      This weekend my wife & kid are going away, so I’m going to the most relaxing of all house work…pressure washing, followed by going solo to Pirates game. Hoping this is the jump start to getting the ship back on track!

  4. Angela says:

    Hi Tom. Don’t overlook the fulfillment you may be getting from helping others. It has been theorized it is the secret to happiness and a satisfied life. Its Friday night – 10:30pm in Denver and you are helping me with some complex code. You are helping me – for free.. and I am helping a company – for free.. that is helping thousands of people – for free.
    I imagine you rarely hear about how grateful people are for your efforts…

    Cheers to random acts of kindness! Thank you very much for your hard work. Now sign out and go write down the three biggest (personal) things you have been avoiding – go to bed and get up super early tomorrow AM and get them done. It will change your.. rut?

  5. Tom says:

    Thanks Angela – you are right, being active in the SF community is definitely is a fulfilling effort.

    Thanks for the note & the suggestion; I’m making my weekend list right now!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *