At this point in the pandemic, we feel like we all hit a wall together. Last week the New York Times asked readers to tell us about their burnout at work – nearly 700 people responded in two days. The answers were funny, vulnerable, and showed a universal feeling of, “We have had enough.” The collective picture they painted showed a workforce struggling to complete tasks that used to be easy, people who know they are lucky enough to have a job but dream of quitting, and who do it all would do to never have a Zoom meeting again.
Here’s what we heard from the readers. Responses were edited slightly for clarity and some people preferred to include only their first names.
About what is particularly challenging and overwhelming about work
“I wake up and realize, ‘I’m going to stare at my laptop for 8 hours, maybe 9, maybe 10, log out, feeling completely unfulfilled because I haven’t left my small office / bedroom / yoga studio all day, and do it all over again, who knows how long. ‘At this point, I don’t know who will crack first, me or the pandemic. “
– Stephanie Soderlund, chemist, Portland, Ore.
“Sign out at the end of the day. It is almost impossible. When the world stalled a year ago, I felt like I signed into work and was still waiting to sign out. “
– Natalie Fiacco, Art Director, New York
“All of it. I can’t concentrate at all. Every day is Groundhog Day. I get up, drink tea, spend 8-12 hours in front of the computer, listen to podcasts all day while working, spend too much time on social media and then go to bed. We haven’t left the apartment for over a year. I’m lucky enough to have a job, but I dream of quitting all the time. “
– Lee Anne Sittler, translator, Madrid
“The Microsoft team ringtone scares me and the slack buzz fear in my mind.”
– Carolyn, graphic designer, Brooklyn
April 3, 2021, 12:13 p.m. ET
“I juggle childcare, teach a kindergarten teacher, and am scheduled for every activity at work. In social services, it takes a lot of emotional work in normal times. Now we have almost 300 percent more people looking for our help. “
– Risa, Social Benefits Specialist, Tacoma, Wash.
“How do I keep track of the hours I’ve spent crying or staring out my window? (Spoiler: I can’t because these things cannot be monetized.) ”
– Julie Bourne, content strategist, Brooklyn
What, if anything, keeps them motivated
“I relied heavily on the story of the Exodus last year, the story of the time of ancient Israel in the wilderness as a time of trial but also as a time of preparation for what was next.”
– Todd Vetter, Pastor, Madison, Conn.
“I played D&D with a group of friends on Discord every week. It was the closest thing to a routine I have now and a moment of calm to actually feel connected to other people. “
– Silas Choudhury, student, Jersey City, NJ
“I dream of vacations that I cannot go to.”
– Alexandra Robinson, art professor, Austin, Texas
“Going outside in the morning makes the biggest difference in preventing motivational flatlining, but when I don’t have a person in charge, it’s easy to skip. I’m skipping now more than a year ago. “
– Prajna Cole, Project Manager, Eugene, Ore.
“I try to remind myself that pandemics don’t last forever.”
– Jason, high school teacher, Virginia
“I focus on my family, on keeping them happy and healthy. I also eat gummy bears. “
– Dr. Yemina Warshaver, Emergency Medicine Physician, New York