How do you handle Burnout(s)🔥?

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taken from topspeed.com
We all get to that point at-least once in a while where the dev life becomes unbearable. The work/hobby you once loved becomes a source of stress and sadness. We loose the zeal and drive to work. How well have you been able to mitigate this or how does the company you work for ensure that developers don't reach a breaking point?

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I hit a point like this last year. I have been working at my company for over 3 years and because of that I have A LOT of knowledge about our entire application. Because I was so knowledgable, every time someone needed help or an on-call issue arose, I would be the go to person. Everyone knew I could solve just about any problem the fastest so they came to me. This meant I felt like I was on-call all the time.

Luckily, my team lead and those around me noticed it even before I did. They were concerned back when I would reply "Oh no, its fine, I can handle it." Eventually, it sucked the life out of me. I became more irritable at work and towards coworkers, BUT I kept trying to do it all. I am one of those people that won't let up. I tend to be a people pleaser and always want to help. If someone asks me for help, you can bet I will say sure!

Eventually, my incredible coworkers stepped in. I was forcefully kicked out of Slack channels that were used for on-call issues so I couldn't even be tempted to help. A couple people took my next on-call rotations and everyone laid down a rule that unless the site was down, no one was allowed to ask me. I was the last line of defense. In the end, it worked! After about a month I was back to my old self. And you know what the best part was? Because I let other people solve their own problems they became more knowledgable about our application. Now, application knowledge is much more spread out and the last few big on-call blow ups, I have not even had to be a part of. It was incredibly freeing.

My advice, be aware not only of yourself but also of those around you. Some people might need you to step in and give them permission to take a break.

 

This is awesome; I have heard of companies giving compulsory leave to their senior developers.

 

I love this. That's awesome that you have teammates who recognized that and stepped in to help. I don't know much about your team, but it sounds like a good one.

 

Sometimes I have to think about what's causing the burnout. Some things I've run into:

  • trying to get that promotion
  • my turn to be on-call was extra rough
  • working extra hours - even if it was a project I was excited about
  • crunching for that performance review
  • not learning to say "no"
  • meeting a deadline

There's probably other reasons. Ultimately, a lot of those issues ^ involved me putting in extra time. What I found, was that I just needed to learn to work smarter - not longer. Sometimes you might have a bad culture where they work you to the bone and you might just have to make a judgement call about whether that's the right employer for you.

Productivity and Time management changes I am currently making:

  • Plan my next day in advance. This doesn't always work out like I want, but I try and stay disciplined and plan out my whole day, it makes it easier to tell someone "I'm busy with X, can you sync up with me at Y time?"
  • Similarly. Block off chunks of time to do focused work on projects. Mark it on your calendar as "Do not schedule" and turn off Slack notifications.
  • Make a list of 3 things I am going to accomplish for a day. I've heard it said, "If you have more than 3 priorities, you have zero priorities." Basically, we're bad at multi-tasking and we should limit our own mental work in progress and focus on those 1-3 things before moving on. It can't always be helped, but using it as a rule has helped me.
  • Getting good sleep.
  • Having a "shutdown" schedule at the end of my work day (do some planning, check email, check Slack, review priorities, follow up with team, etc).
  • When I go home. Be home - especially if you have family. Exercise, cook your self some dinner, play a game, read a book, catch a bit of Netflix (I avoid binging because then I get upset about not being productive), fix that sink, teach my dog a trick, etc. It helps your mind refresh.
  • Take that lunch break rather than working through lunch.
  • Take a few 15 minutes walk in the day. Step out of the office or your home for lunch. You don't even have to go out to eat. Maybe a park with a table is nearby.
  • If possible, go for a walk if you need to meet up with someone.

Reading Recommendations:

  • Deep Work
  • A Mind for Numbers

I could go on forever, but that's because I've burned out more than I'm willing to admit, but these changes have helped me take a much more positive direction and I do a lot better now.

 

This is an ideal approach. It's very tempting to take work home which unfortunately I'm a victim of.

 

I actually wrote up an article on dealing with burnouts and how to deal with them. Take a look and let me know your thoughts. The burnout, how do you deal with it?

 

Thank you, I have been having a hard time dealing with it myself.

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