Innovator’s Insider Guest Kevin Bertolero designs watches with removable figurines that are cute, tactile, and fun. 

Partially inspired by fidget toys and Apple Watches, his creations went viral last summer.

@watchesthatdonttelltime A tiny tiny pool for tiny tiny ducks.#duckling #tinythings #design #KeepItRealMeals #wearableart ♬ Pieces (Solo Piano Version) - Danilo Stankovic

“I was a little burnt out from working a supply chain job where time is super important, tracked, and causes a lot of anxiety,” Bertolero explains to hosts Richard Doyle and Michael LaFleche. “I felt like my time was way too structured.” 

For Bertolero and many in our CAD universe, burnout is a common occurrence

So, as we roll into the new year with a stack of resolutions, I wanted to find out how colleagues and product development insiders combat burnout. Here’s what I learned.

Dive into Personal Projects

“I wanted to create something,” Bertolero explains in “Episode 26: Can Your CAD Do This & Watches that Don’t Tell Time”.

His need to create, coinciding with personal therapy sessions that tap into the “inner child”, led him to a “cute duck watch” idea that was like a smartwatch, but without all the technology.

“A huge part of the vision is pairing people who want to restructure or reshape their relationship with time,” he says. “They’re tired of being whipped by the clock and just want a different association with time.”

With this effort, he was able to leave burnout behind and pursue a new journey.

a screenshotA screenshot from the “Innovator’s Insider” podcast episode with Kevin Bertolero.

Sam Holland, a co-founder of informal, has similar advice.

“Finding exciting projects to work on and learning how to use new tools and technologies keeps me from feeling like I'm treading water or stagnating,” he says.

Exercise Mind & Body

But working on a new project isn’t the only way to combat burnout. 

“Schedule time to go for a walk, read a book or blog, and go skiing during the work day,” Holland adds.

Engineers, like many in today’s world, are glued to a screen, making it ever more important to exercise the muscles that are being ignored throughout the workday.

For Onshape’s App Store Manager Aaron Magnin, exercising the mind and body is the key to avoiding burnout.

“Take a walk, grab a coffee, clean around the house… do something,” he said. “That movement on mindless tasks can clear the slate and have you work past problems when you return to the desk.”

He adds, “Stay curious and read those articles people share in Slack channels, or the stories that get suggested to you. It doesn't need to be related to your field of work; think of it like cross-training.” 

Make Time for Yourself

Steve Spanjers, president at Triton Innovation, Inc., says he likes to “take some specific time to do something fun to take my mind off work. Going to the gym is a great way to release some stress, as well as spend time with my family.”

Saving some time for relaxation or doing anything other than work can mitigate stress.

John Jolly, Vice President of R&D at Novilux, reduces stress by scheduling free time into his calendar. 

“Schedule in a little downtime to read your book or work on a side hobby,” John says. “Even if just one or two hours a week. It will help you feel like you're still getting some of that stuff done.”

stock image of cozy living roomFind some time to cozy up with a book or some music. ( / @nhillier)

Manage the To-Do List

Scheduling your time a little better along with managing all of the stuff on your to-do list can also help.

Jolly likes to “Brain dump into lists.” 

“If I can't brain dump stuff, my brain gets too full of things I'm trying to remember,” he says. “Dumping allows you to not worry about it until the due date, which doesn't even need to be strict; think of it like a ‘snooze’ button sometimes.”

Florentin Westermann, product owner/technical steward at Trafag AG, says to clear your task list and reevaluate the items on your plate.

“Give feedback about unrealistic targets,” he says. “Have a boss who is OK with you saying ‘no’ to even more things on your to-do list.”

New Year, Same Me

Now, with the new year beginning, time is on the mind. 

We ask ourselves how we plan to spend the next 365 days – losing weight, learning new courses, going HAM at work to secure a promotion, spending more time with friends and family, or finally beating that guy at Friday Night Magic.

But maybe the first thing we should do is something for ourselves – so we can finally leave burnout to last year.

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