• Donald Ashdown

5 ways to avoid burn out in info sec

With the overwhelming amount of data and competitiveness in the info sec world, it is to easy to take on more than you can bite inevitably ending in burnout.








If you are brand new to info sec, or have allot of experience I am hoping to offer something that will aid you in the never ending stream of knowledge and information that info sec workers are typically required to consume in order to keep their skills up to date.


Who is burnt out?


Do you know anyone who has started the journey in info sec, highly motivated, enthusiastic, claiming their ambitions to write all sorts of info sec exams and participate in many competitions, only to have put these ambitions on a shelf six months later? Including myself, I know many people who have, and no fault of their own either.

No one really talks about managing the information load, and the burnout that can follow in info sec. Everyone likes to talk about the latest tools, their new methodologies, the latest exploit etc.. including myself. Which is exactly why I wanted to write this blog.


My experience

Starting off I have to admit I did not think I would ever be vulnerable to burnout, being fueled off ambition, enthusiasm and interest, I could not possibly imagine how people could burnout in the fascinating world of info sec. It was in 2017 that I started competing in cyber security CTF's, and I experienced burnout in the years that followed as I learned how to manage and Iron out the ups and downs. In the following section of my blog, I have included 5 ways that help me from burning out.


1. Sleeping


“It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.” ~Aristotle

Sleeping is fairly straight forward and we all understand that rest is important. It is widely known that students tend to be less productive studying when they are tired as opposed to when they are fresh and alert. But I am going to take this one step further and suggest waking up early, as in my experience I have found that my best hours for practice labs, skill development, research and studying are before the day has started, before I have had to expend mental energy navigating my day to day.


2. Eat your veggies


“Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon” ~Doug Larson

To help with optimizing my performance and regulating my energy levels on a day to day basis, I have found that incorporating vegetables into my diet has really helped. It is no secret that vegetables are like the premium fuel gas, and you want to run off the best gas while racing on the info sec highway that never ends.


3. Exercise


“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you don't stop” ~Confucius

Frankly we all know that exercise is healthy for the body and mind, but it can really be inconvenient. In my experience, spending long hours in front of the computer day after day can really add up and cause strain in the neck, back and shoulders. Often the idea of working out is depicted as gathering up your gym clothes, traveling trough the city to a local gym, changing your clothes, exercising and then repeating all the logistics to get back home and settled. This can really be inconvenient for most people, and I find the simplicity of a "home based workout" to prove just as effective, or my personal favorite, youtube yoga. The small and simple can go a long way in correcting our posture and physical health. Without the daunting thoughts of the logistical overhead that can equate to 2 hours of logistics for a 1 hour exercise session.


4. Two is a company, three is a crowd


“Surround yourself with those conducive to you being your highest self” ~A.D. Posey

Long study/research sessions can be daunting at times, and I always find studying or working on practice labs in a group to make those long sessions less daunting. There is also the benefit of learning from others and group collaborations with can really make the process much more enjoyable.


5. Taking breaks


“Taking a break can lead to breakthroughs” ~Russell Eric Dobda

In a 2013 article, the New York Times wrote:

A new and growing body of multidisciplinary research shows that strategic renewal — including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations — boosts productivity, job performance and, of course, health.





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