I used to assume burnouts are probably not that eerie as it sounds and it's just a word for people to express their tiredness.
But hell no! I was completely wrong. I had this experience while working from home where I forget track of time and got fried. I assume you might as have similar experiences to share as most developers/freelancers are working from home due to the COVID crisis.
I always wanted to write a tech blog on things that I learn, customarily technical. Never thought this would be my first post but there was a compelling urge 🙈
Average developers can work focused for 8 hours per day which is why most companies have 40 hours per week as a work policy. We try to exceed and work more than this for a significant period and feel stuck while existing tasks might feel overwhelming. We feel we are becoming slow at almost every task.
According to NCBI, there are three main areas of symptoms that are considered to be signs of burnout:
Exhaustion: People affected feel drained and emotionally exhausted, unable to cope, tired and down, and don't have enough energy. Physical symptoms include things like pain and gastrointestinal (stomach or bowel) problems.
Alienation from (work-related) activities: People who have burnout find their jobs increasingly stressful and frustrating. They may start being cynical about their working conditions and their colleagues. At the same time, they may increasingly distance themselves emotionally, and start feeling numb about their work.
Reduced performance: Burnout mainly affects everyday tasks at work, at home, or when caring for family members. People with burnout are very negative about their tasks, find it hard to concentrate, are listless, and lack creativity.
I was lucky to find this great illustration of what burnouts are about
If you are experiencing a combination of these thoughts over a significant period say a week or more you might need to back off from work and chill off sometime ASAP. But I need to work!?.. Shhh. No excuses! 🤫
- I do not feel a sense of accomplishment and feel dragging myself to work 😢
- I feel I might not be able to do it quickly as I used to do it before, I feel like a sloth now.
- I do not have the energy to do any other task other than my work 😫. Phew! Just got over this one.
- I will not pitch in my idea this time, I have lost my confidence gradually 😦.
- Sleep?! 🥱 What the heck is that, I haven't had one proper one since last week, this problem is much more interesting than that.
- The weekend is a good day to finish my huge todo lists that I am unable to complete due to my work cycle 🙈
- I can skip my lunch/ work while eating it, Am I not great at multi-tasking 👨💻?
- Let me take that issue up, a plus point I can learn something up, why bother the team about this.
- All I see myself do on weekdays is:- eat 🍔, work 👨💻, sleep😴(maybe)...Repeat! 🧟
Having experienced most of these, I can say burnout + imposter syndrome is a disaster waiting to happen 🤯.
I work as a backend engineer though I love experimenting everything with a polyglot mindset and have a broader tech stack experience than a focused one, A jack of all trades but master of none. I have ADHD and keep myself busy with most of the time. I keep hearing overwhelming technical terms and buzzwords and being inquisitive I land my feet on each one of them, only to find if someone needs a hand in debugging, I have shallow knowledge. I love my product well,making it classy and getting the expected uptimes, so I easily clocked around 50-60 hours a week trying to learn, build and fix things around. Fortunately, I am surrounded by some of the best minds and an empathetic team but I used to take things up on my own as the adrenaline to learn and own things up was kicking in high.
One week..two weeks and it went on until a day I realized I am losing my health, peaceful sleep and I am unable to get any significant work done. I started to keep mum on most meetings as I felt blank to pitch any thoughts. I was afraid that people will notice this strangeness and felt demotivated.
A general thought that we have is :- How about we extend the hours for today and make it up on weekends or maybe tomorrow
Please don't do this. You never know if tomorrow would be a similar day as today. You cannot trick your 🧠 easily to cool/shut off on weekends. It is like a car where you need to ensure oil is changed periodically though it feels nothing bad is going to happen :)
I took a simple small break of around 4 days to take my mind off everything and focus on things like mindfulness,playing with pets and especially being on an information diet.
The following week I was back on fire, and so was my confidence. I learned the importance of taking breaks and listening to your brain when it is tired.
We oftentimes agree to things that we think either due to the excitement of the opportunity to learn or we tend to think we have all the time we need to work on it.
A problem with this is there is no boundary to it and it's a commitment that you cannot ignore later.
How often do you take breaks? Do you have a dedicated time for lunch and work time set up?
- Make use of the allocated leaves and learn to drift off from work at least once a month.
- Setup a work time and talk it out to your team for an acceptable time that works for a good collaboration.
- Take short breaks to enjoy your cup of coffee, playing with your pets, meditate, stretch your muscles out, or whatever that sets you at peace. P.S: I highly recommend Stretchly app to remind you of your breaks.
- Keep track of time and go to 🛏️ at a regular time. Disconnect from work and reduce brain activity at least an hour before your sleep.
- While sleep requirements vary slightly from person to person, studies show most healthy adults require 7-9 hours of sleep to function at their best.
The most important thing I feel most people miss out is, we tend to keep this to ourselves. Maybe your fellow pals are experiencing the same and need help as well 🤗.
We must be open to tell your state of mind to at least the closest ones in your team. Remember your help might be a hand's distance away. Split the work appropriately by discussion with your team.
If you are on a solo adventure to learn or experiment things, try splitting it into logical splits to have a smooth transistions.
Talk to your manager on the goals and align on what is achievable and set clear boundaries. This is important to let your manager/team know and set your expectations but never make a compromise on your mental/physical health.
While the tech keeps on expanding, we might get overwhelmed to keep up the pace. Be on an information diet and filter only things you see might be valuable to add to your career.
For all, I can say is, companies do not expect a candidate to know everything and have deep knowledge of all the fancy tech out there. All they expect is a strong fundamental on what we work and things we plan to take up for a new job.
Focus on the stack that you loved to work and be a master of at least one though a jack of all.
Mistakes were made though🤷♂️ 😂
Sebastián RamírezI saw a job post the other day. 👔
It required 4+ years of experience in FastAPI. 🤦
I couldn't apply as I only have 1.5+ years of experience since I created that thing. 😅
Maybe it's time to re-evaluate that "years of experience = skill level". ♻13:40 PM - 11 Jul 2020
Hope you like this article and take good care of yourself 😊.
NOTE: This is completely based on my experience and could be a different story for le fellow pals.
Feel free to drop suggestions as this is my first write up.
If you'd like to chat/reach out, I'm available on Twitter at @premmkrishna