6 Ways to Overcome Developer Burnout


We all know how it feels to be tired from work. You’ve had a few late nights, you’re feeling the pressure of a deadline, or you’re a little under the weather. You can’t wait for the weekend to arrive so you can unwind before doing it all over again. 

But burnout is different. It isn’t simply being tired. It’s complete emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. A weekend off won’t solve it.

Burnout is common in the software and IT industry. Developers will work on intense projects for lengthy periods, meeting tight deadlines, and working long hours. This is especially true for remote workers, who pull long shifts and don’t really stick to a remote working playbook to manage their time.They are constantly faced with new content and will be under huge amounts of pressure from managers to meet expectations. 

Some of these projects can seem impossible to complete or have deadlines that simply aren’t manageable. Because of this, developers might underplay their stress levels or neglect their own needs. 

It’s important to prioritize your health and wellbeing as a developer. Here are six ways to overcome developer burnout. 

1. Learn to say no

In acting, people study the art of improvisation. This is when one actor creates a scenario, and the other actors jump in without knowing what’s happening or planning anything. The key is to always say “yes, and…” to keep the action flowing. 

However, as a developer trying to overcome burnout, you need to do the opposite. Learn to say no – full stop. If you accept every single project sent your way, you will become overwhelmed. While you might feel guilty saying no and want to be seen as a reliable employee, you need to put your own needs first. A good manager will recognize employees who are realistic about their capacity. 

Being freelance is a little different. You want to take on lots of projects so your clients are happy with your services and give you the chance to use referral marketing. But you still need to learn to turn down work. No freelancer can take on everything. 

Ask yourself this: Can I feasibly get all this done, without damaging my own health and wellbeing? If the honest answer is no, then you need to say no. 

2. Organize your workload

It’s easy to say yes to lots of projects if you haven’t organized your workload effectively. You’re not thinking about the future or considering other pressures you might have going on over the next few months.

So, it’s important to learn how to learn how to organize your workload and plan the upcoming months. Use an online calendar to organize projects and route phone calls with a multi line telephone system. If you’re freelance, don’t forget to consider any events or challenges approaching in your personal life, too.

In general, before you say yes to a project, take the time to think about the way your next few months are looking. If they’re busy and hectic, now may not be the time to take on a high-pressure project. 

3. Take breaks

Whether you work in an office or remotely, staring at a screen all day isn’t great for your health. Research has found that conditions such as nearsightedness (myopia) can become more likely when we spend too long looking at screens. 

As a developer, you’ll spend hours looking at intense code. You might also spend time attending online meetings or doing your admin. This amount of screentime could not only strain your eyes, but will also increase your stress levels. So, make sure that you take a break every hour to walk around and get away from those screens. 

4. Exercise and sleep

Burnout regularly occurs when people don’t get enough sleep. When you’re in the middle of a challenging project with a tight deadline, it can be easy to work long hours and overlook the amount of sleep you need. 

You might find yourself going to bed late and getting up early to get everything done. However, you can’t do your work effectively on a few hours’ sleep every night. The best call center software isn’t developed on three hours of sleep. So, make sure you get a minimum of 6 hours every night. Use call record software to ensure your sleep isn’t disturbed, and avoid caffeine after 2pm. 

Exercising will also help to reduce burnout. While you might feel tired after a day of working, you’ll be tired mentally – not physically. Exercise will wear your body out and help you to get a good night’s sleep. Plus, you’ll experience endorphins and strengthen your immune system. 

5. Learn something new

It can be easy to get into a rut when you’re doing lots of similar projects. Your brain isn’t excited about the work you’re doing anymore, and work feels monotonous. 

However, when you continue to challenge yourself and take on work that excites you, you’ll feel more enthusiastic about your working day. So, make sure you take the time to keep learning and engaging. Dedicate 20% of your time to learning new software or building your own project.

As a freelancer, taking a course in marketing and using an infographic maker could help to expand your network and develop your brand, for example. Alternatively, depending on your line of work, there are great new Generally, there are many coding resources that are worth checking out, too. 

Venture beyond your comfort zone to develop your skills, meet new people, and feel excited about your future. 

6. Time off

Everyone needs to take time off, whatever the industry. But, as a developer, taking time off is particularly important. Coding can take over your life. You practically live, breathe, and eat code. This means your brain works overtime and it needs a rest.

So, make sure you take time off. If you work in a company, take all the leave you’re entitled to. If you’re freelance, make sure you book weeks off in advance. Go on vacation. See your family and friends. Have some duvet days. 

So… Be kind

The way you treat yourself as a developer matters. To overcome burnout, you will need to be kind to yourself. Say no, take breaks, and learn to relax. Burnout isn’t something to be taken lightly.

About the author:

John Allen, Director, Global SEO at RingCentral, a global UCaaS, VoIP and omnichannel contact center solutions provider. He has over 14 years of experience and an extensive background in building and optimizing digital marketing programs. He has written for websites such as UserTesting and IndustryTap.

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