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Azell Lawson
Azell Lawson

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I Read An Article On Burnout, And Now I'm Scared

I decided to read "That's Not My Burnout", as someone who has recently discovered the possibility of having ADHD and/or ASD, a lot of things about myself have started to make sense. Some of those things being, hyperfixations, stimming and autistic inertia. The last one is my biggest concern. Sometimes it is hard to stop, or in this case begin. It is not possible to find motivation to do somethiing or get simple or hard tasks completed, making completing tasks a complete gamble. And as the article mentioned, a lot of people felt the same way at the height of the pandemic. Burnout was a constant for me, I dropped all of my classes, and some days did not get out of bed at all. I had zero motivation to do a single thing except wake up, eat and sleep. But there were also some days where I could do one thing from sun up to sun down. I could write or draw all day, do my nails, play video games, and on the rare occasion - clean. I am excited to learn how to code, I want to be in control of my schedule, make something I'm proud of, work from home and have a reliable paycheck for once. But the constant fear of having no motivation is intimidating. I don't know if anyone else feels this way, or if a successful developer has felt this way, and it makes me wonder how they pushed through it.

Top comments (4)

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Your career is not a sprint. Take your time. You might still get some acute burnout from time to time, but you can take steps in stopping it from turning chronic.

I think it's a deeply personal journey, but two things I'd note:

  • Learning skills in expectation management. I.e. communicating your availability proactively, etc.
  • Consistent physical activity. This book was incredibly informative to me, and is probably the biggest thing to help me avoid burnout.

Good luck, there are lots of things in this field which are deeply fun, and that can really help prevent burnout as well. But I don't want to oversimplify anything. It is certainly a challenge, not entirely in your control.

marissab profile image
Marissa B

Burnout is a wall. You don't push through it, you drive around it. Taking a break, picking a different path, switching projects, going on vacation, even changing jobs, etc.

Inevitably you're going to meet it, but you'll see it coming from miles away. Maybe the first time you'll whack into the wall, then back up and go around with a lesson learned. Then the next time you can swerve to avoid it entirely. Everyone's different. Most of what you'll see about burnout is the "hitting the wall" portion since that gets attention and clicks and shared misery. The other side "I felt burnout coming up and changed projects to avoid it" doesn't have a ton to talk folks don't write about it often.

lexlohr profile image
Alex Lohr

I was once really close to burn-out, but fortunately could pull the emergency brakes in time. It feels like normal stress, but the hard to spot difference is that it doesn't slowly vanish once you're of work. It erodes your motivation and pulls down your mood.

When you feel overly stressed, take a break, ask your colleagues for help or talk to your manager. Do it before the stress turns into burn-out. You're far less effective if you're overly stressed in any case, so better do something about it before your performance suffers.

ant_f_dev profile image
Anthony Fung

Probably the best thing to do is to pace yourself. If you work too hard, you will get mentally and physically tired. If/when that fatigue eventually catches up with you, your body will shut down to protect itself.

Try to time block your day, e.g. spend no more than 2 hours doing this, and 3 hours doing that, etc. It may be tempted to carry on, but keep in mind that it's better to come back fresh the next day than to work on through the night, take an (involuntary) extended break, and lose momentum.

You could try the pomodoro technique: it's basically working for a ~30 mins, and then taking a short break, and repeating. It's important to listen to your body: if you're tired, it could be time to rest for a while.