I experienced my first major case of burnout this week. All the signs were there but I didn't notice until my supervisor asked me if I'm doing OK. I tend to think I am a rather productive person in general. My schedule of late has been split between piano lessons, work, and learning new things on the side. The only problem was that aside from work, nothing else was fit into a rigid time schedule.
I would typically wake up, make a pot of coffee and get to work. I choose not to eat lunch because my productivity dips so hard after a meal(red flag #1), so normally I would take a break for lunch, but I would spend it on YouTube or Netflix or something else behind a screen(red flag #2).
Once I'm done with work it would be a toss up between learning a new technology or piano practice.(red flag #3, lack of a rigid schedule.) and then once I finish whichever task I choose, then I'd make supper, watch something and sleep.
My supervisor pointed out that my code quality has been going down of late and for me that was weird, because I thought I was doing a good job, but in hindsight, I started to realize that small bugs would really get to me. I'd make small errors and get really frustrated which led to more errors and just spiral out of control. This made work to become more of a chore than the enjoyable job I know it to be. I should have seen the signs, but it's easy not to when you're in it.
So I took a couple days off and started trying to figure out where it all went wrong. Spoiler alert, I had no schedule. I had a gray mix of things I tend to do, but no specific format. However, I now work on a very rigid schedule, and it has honestly helped me. I schedule my sleep, my gaming time, work hours, piano lessons etc etc. I also make sure to eat more regularly(We joke about being powered by coffee, but coffee is not food.). Doesn't have to be a full blown meal, but at least have a salad or something. Similarly, less screen time is important. Taking time away from being behind a screen is why I decided to pick up piano. As a gamer and a programmer, there are days I spend >12 hours behind a screen and the migraines that follow are not fun. Repetition may seem dull, but it helps the mind adjust accordingly. Predictability in my schedule is what I am after for now. Plus, I added in a run every morning to see the sun and at least grab some fresh air. I feel way better this week than I did last week, and my quality of work is back up to par.