The job description of a developer goes beyond writing codes. We also look after databases and monitor sever-based systems; these are time demanding tasks that most of us have little to no private life. Although it looks like we have our lives after work but in reality our job goes beyond office hours. Most of us have an IT setup in our homes where we spend the supposed free time working tirelessly on virtualizing servers, programming language, designing theories or testing out new database. We virtually do nothing else than stare at the computer day and night. No wonder burnout is common amongst dedicated programmers even at young age.
Developer’s burnout is basically that point in a programmer’s career where he gets exhausted and wishes to do just about anything other than his job. Yes I love my job, but there are times I wish I was not a programmer.
Causes of Burnout
Burn out is caused by several reasons but the most common of these reasons is prolonged state of intense stress from a ‘death march task’ ( a high-stake task that requires large amount of personal sacrifice and seem impossible to complete). It tends to grow gradually; one step at a time till you lost all of the passion you have for your job and start contemplating on quitting. Some other causes of burnout include;
- Doing same task over and over without a break, from month to month and year to year. This can become very tiresome and boring leading to lost of passion and zealousness for your job.
- Mental fatigue can also be a cause as programming is highly cognitive, stressful and intense.
- Working constantly to tight deadlines is another reason for burnout. Everything is a rush. As programmers, we often have more than one deadlines approaching and all you can think of is how to quickly finish up so you beat the deadline. This is unhealthy and can lead to a mental breakdown
- Working long hours on end for months or maybe years. Work tends to invade our private lives, no night rest or weekend breaks. This eventually leads to overbearing stress that makes you seek anything but your job.
How to Avoid Burnout
- Do not Overwork: The first and most important tip on overcoming burnout is ‘do not overwork’. Avoid it like a plague. Generally, productivity decreases as the time spent on a task increases. Why then do we spend all those hours overworking our brains? You end up doing more harm than good. Quit overworking.
- Pomodoro Technique: This involves taking a break at intervals while working, say 25 minutes of focused work then 5 minutes of rest. By doing so, you ease yourself of built up tension and become more productive even.
- Exercises: Yes the job is tasking and demanding but you do not have to stay glued to your computer all day. Do a work out, it must not necessarily involve going to the gym. You could do pushups, sit ups, weight lifting, take a walk, anything, just stay active and keep moving.
- As programmers it helps to take a break from work and experiment or play on other work related stuffs that does not involve fear of failure. You end up learning something new and resting at same time.
- You could also attend conferences and meetups. You gain a lot by just listening to other programmers talk. Hearing others experiences helps motivate you and increases your focus on your job.
- Endeavour to take breaks and indulge in other passions. Programming is not your only passion; indulge in others so you do not get bored of work.
- Working on same tech or project over and over can become tiring and boring, as such, take up new projects, anything to help rejuvenate you.
Leading a healthy work life as programmers takes a lot of commitment and conscious efforts. I advice we quit this cult of ‘overworking’. Not spending all day on coding and work related things does not make you the least dedicated in your organization. Let’s strive to strike a balance between our work and our private life. Truth is, when you involve yourself in other activities you learn better from real life and incorporate these experiences into your inventions. Don not kill your passion for coding by overworking yourself. Say no to over working, eat and sleep well, lead a healthy life style and you will have no burn out experience.