How to Fix Burnout as a Developer?


Hey guys, I have been coding for the last 3 years and I really like my job as a "Junior Software Developer".

1st year: I was super enthusiastic. I used to code at work, help fix bugs of colleagues, and also work on a few side projects.

2nd year: I did the same but without building any side projects.

This year: I want to code but my body isn't allowing me to.

What are the few tricks you do to avoid this burnout? Any advice?

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Kleo Petrov's photo

I've experienced severe burnouts several times and had the same symptoms as you. First and foremost, it's essential to understand and find the cause of it. Burnouts are an emotional and physical state, which are caused by prolonged or repeated stress. My first suggestion to you is to find the source - is it the work environment, is it because you are feeling overwhelmed, or is it because of a personal matter? Whatever it is, it's crucial to identify it as soon as possible.

Take your time off

The next thing you can do is to take some time away from the computer. It was already proposed by many, and this is no coincidence. We are living in a fast, everchanging world, where a work-centric life full of overtimes is becoming the de facto way of living. Many find themselves in a vicious cycle of monotony, which is another reason for burnout. Step back for a while and try something different - try traveling, start reading non-tech books, find a hobby, or take a few days off and do nothing. You will return a changed man!

Exercising as a mean for coping with burnouts

Healthy body healthy mind

Exercising can improve your mood, confidence, and well-being. It can also help you cope with burnouts. It can boost your energy, sharpen your focus, and relax your body and mind. Meditation is also an alternative that can work for you. Whatever you choose, make sure you are consistent. The results will come soon enough.

Start small, iterate more

If you still can't find the motivation to work on your side projects, try to split your work into small, deliverable chunks that you can deliver in minimal time. Try to maximize the feel of accomplishment by successfully achieving short, but meaningful work. That dopamine rush of shipping can drastically increase the feeling of making progress.

Hipkiss's photo

I've experienced this first hand. It's not fun and it really does have a significant impact on oneself. You need to reset and let it go for a while. Otherwise you'll keep riding this line of cant be bothered and i hate myself for not doing more. Burnout is a serious thing and should be considered carefully.

I seriously suggest you take some time off, do what you can at work but don't do anything at home - play some games, spend time with loved ones and friends, some something physical.

You could also just explore the community for new libraries, methodology and just general discussions (hashnode is great for all this :P). And don't implement them just read and find something that excites you. But wait a few weeks or maybe even a few months until you've recovered from your burnout. It ended up taking me about 9 months to recover mine but it sometimes still lurks in the background so it's important to recognise when you feel like your having a kind of mini-burnout and adjust your behaviour accordingly.

I really hope you find your passion again and become stronger for it. Hope this helped :).

Sandeep Panda's photo

First of all make sure you are fit. If possible, spend some time walking, running and exercising. Take a small break from work and go back to that tech or tool that you've always found interesting, but never got a chance to build anything meaningful. Do some cool experiments, side projects, show it to others and discuss. This is a slight change from routine, but you will definitely feel good. I recently did something similar. I always wanted to experiment with Cloudflare Workers, but never got a chance because of busy schedule. So, I took some time out over the weekends and built a fun side project:

I also wrote about it:

Try it out and let me know if it worked for you. 😀

Gergely Polonkai's photo

Do a check-up with yourself every now and then.

Do i like this job? If not, is it the actual work, the people around me, both, or something completely different? If your job is not the thing you like to do, or it is too demanding, or outright toxic, resign as soon as possible. Workplace problems, especially psychical ones, are the primary reasons of burnout.

Should i really work on this side project? Is it actually important, or is it just a form of procrastination? Most side projects are started only as a way to procrastinate on something, usually on solving the above workplace problems. Such side projects are the ones you never finish. If this is the case, abandon that project, and go back to your original problem, otherwise you divide your remaining energy between meaningless things.

Is my social life OK? Do i meet people who charge me and not discharge me in meatspace? Meeting real people charges everyone regardless of being introverted or extroverted. The only difference is the types of relationships you form. My sister can charge in any group of people as she’s an extrovert; i, on the other hand, need meanungful chat with close friends to achieve this. If you meet people only in the cyberspace, it requires some form of concentration, even if it’s just waiting for the notification sound from your phone. Also, during meatspace events, try avoiding your phone as much as possible. If you are not waiting for a truly important call or message, you should even mute it.

The usual cause of burnout is a job you don’t like and the lack of social interactions. Get well soon!

Gaponenko Andrei's photo

You probably need to take a break. How much is really depends on your circumstances, but it's the best way to recover, like Hipkiss already said. Personally I think it's also important to identify the exact reasons that caused the burn-out to avoid them further down the road. It can be frequent overtime, lack of rest or social communication, frustration with your existing codebase or colleagues - you name it.

Try to identify what is bothering you and what gives you motivation. Perhaps you simply need a vacation. Or perhaps you need to quit your job altogether and enjoy your life in other ways for several months. After all, it's not really healthy for both mind and body to forget about everything but programming.

maxdevjs's photo

I do not canonically meditate daily anymore. But, for some reason, meditating, exercising, and just living allowed me to develop a kind of room among myself and incoming stuff. This allows me to foresee (more like forefeel) with a generally very clear and wide margin eventual negative situations. Including burnout.

I believe we all have this kind of routines in our code, sometimes commented out. Things that helped me to scatter the fog, or edit my source code, have been:

  • exercise (possibly outdoors)
    • not weight lifting, but body weight exercises
    • a lighter movement kind of training, especially things like movement to life kind
    • martial arts (not random ones, personally I find much more effective for this goal Silat and Systema: some "families" of those styles are heavily centered in self-knowledge)
    • dynamic stretching, very important to disperse building up tension
    • meditation (more as a life style, than a daily specific duty)
  • general stuff
    • cut time from duties to do things that are appealing, before are not anymore
    • some adrenalin rush
    • cold exposure!
    • what more...

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