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Developers Burnout. I Burned Out.

tyler_potts_ profile image Tyler Potts ✌️ ・3 min read

A developer can burnout. I burned out.

I read a post called Developer burnout is real by Daragh Byrne and I wanted to share my experience and thoughts on the topic.

I want to help others not burnout. To actually achieve this I need to make developers aware of what burnout is and what causes it.

What is burnout?

Burnout is when you feel demotivated, you don't really want to do what you used to love. Developers normally experience burnout because of the large workload they usually have. It is the feeling of wanting to do anything else but code* although you are passionate about developing.

What causes burnout?

There are many causes of burnout but here are the most common:

  • Feeling stressed.
  • Feeling depressed (this can be a side effect or cause of burnout).
  • Feeling anxious.
  • Feeling overwhelmed.
  • Feeling underappreciated.
  • Feeling demotivated.

All of the emotions listed above are linked to burnout. The definition of burnout is the state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.

My experiences

What burnout was like for me

Personally, I started to burn out because I was determined to code all the time, I thought that the more I code the better I'll be and the more I'd want to do development. I was completely wrong. The more I coded the worse I got.

I realized I was burning out when I started to feel drained all the time. I didn't want to wake up for work. The only thing I wanted to do was play video games. I became unsociable, I stopped interacting with my friends and to be honest, I still haven't really talked to my friends. This is because in some respects I feel I let them down.

How I got over burnout

I started to recover from feeling burnout not too long ago, I was helping a colleague on a really cool project. We were working on a lot of features and I was finishing my tasks so fast. I didn't know I was capable of doing the project in such a short amount of time and that stimulated my passion for coding once again. I started working on a video series called #100DaysOfCode on YouTube, but even though I have recovered there is still a weary thought in the back of my mind that I might drift back into this feeling of being burnout.

That brings me on to my final segment...

How to prevent burnout

I personally got through burnout by taking a break, playing video games and finally powering through my work to realize that I can produce work at a high standard.

This is what I plan to do to prevent burnout in the future:

  • Take regular breaks & holidays.
  • Only code on weekdays and use the weekends to relax.
  • Enjoy all victories no matter how small.
  • Communicate with friends & family on how I feel.
  • Participate in fun, less work related coding projects.
  • Try different things. Recently I have been doing some laboring that makes me realize my job isn't all that bad.
  • Believe in myself and that I can achieve anything that I set out to do (cringy I know).

That is all, thank you for reading my small story on how I beat developer burnout. I hope you can use this to prevent burnout in your career.

My name is Tyler Potts. I like to code.

This is my first post, feel free to criticize and provide feedback.

* I use the term "code" but this can be anything inside the development ecosystem.

Posted on by:

tyler_potts_ profile

Tyler Potts ✌️

@tyler_potts_

Hello. My name is Tyler, I'm a developer from the UK, based in Northamptonshire. I develop websites, apps and in my spare time video games.

Discussion

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What a wonderful honest post! I love stuff like this, and definitely don't think this is talked about in the tech world enough. Possibly because so many companies have adopted a 'churn and burn' mentality.

 

Thank you and yes a lot of companies are the same and are not bothered about an employee's mental state.

 

Thanks for sharing your experiences - I can definitely relate to some of it. I think your tip to participate in fun coding projects is a good one. For me, learning about languages or frameworks I don't use at work is often more fun than trying a new project in something I'm already familiar with. A positive side effect is that sometimes I can bring this new knowledge back to work and help solve problems in a way I wouldn't have thought of before!

 

That is awesome, it's exactly how I feel. Fun projects always help.

 

Fully agree! + the same story, and my receipt is to leave company with "performance" corporate culture (salary does not matter), work on interesting projects with inspiration and , have hobby, ride bike, do not drink alcohol, take care about my 7 cats 😺

 

Nice, I don't drink either. I also have 8 kittens right now. A litter. 😁

 

“Personally, I started to burn out because I was determined to code all the time, I thought that the more I code the better I'll be and the more I'd want to do development. I was completely wrong. The more I coded the worse I got.” - exactly this!

Your list of solutions is solid. I’d add active, intentional relaxation.

For those interested I blog on this topic at codingmindfully.com.

 

Thanks dude your post was what inspired me to write this. 😁

 
 

Great post! Some other tips, that work for me, is to have at least 30 mins of exercise (running, soccer, whatever) and to turn off any distractors (tv, phone notification even music) when I work, in my case I've detected that having multiple things walks you to a quicker burnout.

 

That is an awesome tip about exercise it really does help clear your mind. 😁

 

Definitely feel like putting in some time to relax helps you power through some code later. Our mind will tell you its time for a break, we should listen :)

 

Yes, a little relaxation can help stimulate the brain back in to high gear

 

I wonder how were you let to code all the time? You make it sound like a personal choice, but in a team setting coding has a goal, and that goal needs to be reached in a limited time. Maybe you didn't get enough attention, or the goals were ambiguous?

I also found coding sustainable by following a focus-relax pattern, vs monothonic churning. Recently I'm writing actionable advice in my book Programming Without Anxiety if you are interested.

 
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I wouldn't say coding something quickly, it was the feeling of accomplishing something I thought was hard that made me start enjoying it again 😁

 

You know you've burned out when you can no longer type a working for loop or when you find yourself discussing with clients about project specifications in your sleep.