March 25, 2020

Working as an IT project manager I communicate with developers every day. Communication is what I like a lot, so in addition to discussing project tasks, I often ask my colleagues how they are, if they like working on the project, if they enjoy their work with us. It is very important for me to understand if the programmer is satisfied with the project, if the tasks set are interesting for him, and if he likes working in our team.

One of the common phenomenon in working as a developer is emotional burnout. Professional "burnout" is common in any field, but in IT it is particularly common. By "burnout" I mean a state of emotional deadlock, when a developer does not know what to do, what the further steps are, there appears a certain desire to quit the job and leave this industry. This situation usually occurs when a developer faces complex tasks that he cannot solve on his own. In such case the developer spends a lot of time on solving the tasks, the time is spent inefficiently, and as a result – the code is bad and most likely is impossible to use.

In my opinion there are several reasons for the developer burnout:

1) Being in a rush

This may sound strange, or even unexpected, but very often the cause of emotional burnout is a rush. The developer faces some task he needs to solve. He begins to solve it, spends quite a lot of time, but cannot solve the task. Time goes by, the developer understands he needs to move on to the next task, but the current one is still not solved. The developer begins to get nervous, hurries to finish this task. Because he understands he needs to catch up with the time he starts to lack. And here comes this vicious circle. Being in a rush, getting irritated, unresolved task, deadlock!


2) The task it too difficult to solve. The developer does not know how to solve it

A situation like this can occur with a developer of any level, even with a senior.

Considering my long experience in communicating with developers - experienced team leaders, as well as junior developers, I want to give some practical advice that can help you to avoid your professional "burnout" or to get out of it in time.

How to avoid developer burnout - 10 simple tips

Simple Tips for Developers How to Avoid Burnout

1. Do not rush

If you can't solve the task and you have spent a lot of time on it - just stop. Do not rush to quickly solve it. Rush won't help, it will harm.


2. Take a break

This advice is very effective. You must understand here that taking a break does not mean viewing Facebook or Instagram feed on your phone. Take a break from everything. Try to distract yourself from the process of work and just sit quietly, doing nothing. For 10, 15, 20 minutes. Look out the window, remember some pleasant moments from life, try to meditate.


3. Switch your attention

In your daily work, learn to switch your attention for a short period of time to the things that you will definitely succeed in. Drink tea or coffee with chocolate chip cookies. Or drink a bottle of cola. If things like that make you feel better, get you on a positive mood and you know for sure that you can definitely drink tea or coffee, do it. Besides tea or coffee, I can also recommend you to tidy up your working place. You can organize things around you so that the surrounding area pleases your eye.

If the steps have been taken and you have felt relaxed for a few moments, you can get back to work. Surely good emotions will bring new ideas for productive work.


4. Switch to simple tasks

Usually, the developer has several tasks in the project. Start a new working day or second half of the day with a simple task that you will definitely solve.


5. Change your pace of work

If you are used to solving the tasks quickly, try to convince yourself to set a slower work pace. And vice versa. If you are used to working slowly, then switch to a simple task and try to solve it quickly.


6. Ask for help from your colleagues.

Yes, and there is nothing wrong with that. If you can't solve the task, and you don't know how to solve it, ask for help from your colleagues. I am sure there are always people at work who can help you to solve the task. I noticed – a little piece of advice is enough sometimes to solve a very difficult task.


7. Work 8 hours a day

Work no more than 8 hours a day, and relax on the weekend. It is common knowledge that human brain works effectively for no more than 8 hours a day, and it should rest on the weekends.


8. Hobbies

You should have a few hobbies that make you feel relaxed. For some people it is jogging in the park or training in the gym. The others will enjoy going out for a movie with friends, and there are those who will just spend time with their children playing a game and enjoy the process! Plan something nice at the end of the day or week, and do this on regular basis.


9. Vacation

You need to take a vacation at least once in six months. You should take about 7 to 10 days of vacation just to change the circumstances around you, for example you can plan to go on an interesting trip to a new place. Sounds very trivially, but it is true. Changing the environment around you helps to restart yourself, get an emotional recharge and can get you tuned in to a new wave. This new wave can take you out of despondency and fatigue.


10. Tell the truth

If you do not like the project, the tasks, the code, etc. - please do not be afraid to tell this to the manager, director, employer. And do not wait long. If you are working on a project that you really don't like, this is a direct and quick way to "burnout". Describe your emotions to your manager. You should first figure out for yourself, and then explain in a conversation with the management the reasons why you do not like the project or the tasks. As soon as you talk these reasons through in a conversation, you will feel relieved. Besides as a result you can be offered another project or other tasks to work on.


I hope the tips above will help you enjoy programming and work in a stress-free environment which you set yourself.

Natalia Khizhevskaya