//Ris Adams;

Coping with burnout

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Causes of burnout

  1. Sedation Spending too much time in one place, staring at the same things day-in-day-out.
  2. Stress Programming is high-stress, high-mental energy. This can lead to mental breakdowns, depression, anxiety, etc. Don’t be afraid to talk to a professional. It is especially useful to find a professional with experience with programmers if possible.
  3. Monotony kills. Try to do smaller tasks and order tasks to prioritize variety and change.
  4. Isolation. Talk to your friends, family, etc. regularly–even if it can only be virtual.

How to avoid burnout

  1. Set a personal backlog (I use a personal kanban board, one for work, one for self, and one for family) and learn how to rank and prioritize the tasks that need to be completed first. Sometimes completing a quick low-priority task can be more rewarding than completing a long-running higher priority task.
  2. Take regular breaks. I use a 30-minute hourglass instead of a noisy electric timer.
  3. Use vacation time. I am lucky enough to have an employer who has a very generous policy and can take 1 week per quarter, plus an additional 1 to 2 days per month.
  4. Focus on your career goals. You should be dedicating time to focusing on what helps your future not just your employer’s future.
  5. Exercise and get enough sleep. This is hard. Try anyway.
  6. Start slow, keep things small, iterate, and keep on moving.

What if you are already burning out?

It is difficult to regain control of yourself when you are already over-stressed or in deep burnout for weeks (or months). You should try to create or maintain lifestyle choices to help mitigate or eliminate stressors.

  1. Start by doing nothing! Seriously, take some time off work to relax, start a new hobby, read, etc. The time it takes to recharge will vary, but your top priority should be to pull away from stressors.
  2. Learn to say no to tasks. As developers, it can be tempting to take on too much, to over-promise, and watch your backlog grow to an unmaintainable limit. Learn to let things go, and prioritize what needs to be done most.
  3. Change your environment. Sometimes all it takes to renew your interest is a quick change in scenery. Move your office. sit outside if weather permits, and move from a Windows OS to MAC (or vice-versa) to stimulate new learning.