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Curing Burnout in a Pandemic?

brsullivan profile image Braelyn ・1 min read

I am almost 2 months in to staying-at-home and social-distancing while working on the worst project of my career so far.

It's an interesting technical stack (Unity/C#) that I don't normally get to work with -- but by the time I was brought in to help, we were WAY over-budget and missing deadlines left and right. Deadlines that, in my eagerness to help, became my responsibility before I even knew what we had agreed to do.

Normally, I don't mind being the one brought in to fix a project or hammer out a challenging feature, but I hate projects with systemic issues. This project has dozens of them -- first and foremost being the lack of a PM or a BA drawing the hard lines in the sand to coach the client's expectations.

Every day feels like torture now. I'm working weekends, pulling 10-12 hour days and hating every second of it. And now, I'm learning all of my usual remedies for burnout rely very heavily on social interaction and my office buddies.

Anyone else feeling more burnt than usual because of this? How are you coping?

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Braelyn

@brsullivan

Front End Solutions Developer | Game Developer | IT Consultant | She/Her

Discussion

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Whoa! Are you my twin but from a different stack?! This exact same thing literally just happened to me a couple weeks before Shelter in Place was implemented in my state. My project is on Rails/React (well it wasn't on React yet when I joined and that was part of the problem...) and had pretty much the same problems-- no PM, over budget, under estimated, behind deadlines with more deadlines on the horizon. I was already feeling the burn out creeping before the shelter in place started, I can't imagine how this must feel for you as it's unfolding during quarantine!

First, given your project's circumstances, you'd probably be feeling some burn out regardless of the current state of the world. It's not just pulling extra hours, but the additional stress of the project being so behind and lacking structure is just a lot in general.

The first thing I had to do was to let go of feeling responsible for the project. I didn't get them into this mess, I was just brought in to help two weeks before a deadline they were going to miss. It's not on you to carry everything. You can still be a good employee without killing yourself for this project. In fact, you'd be a better employee if you took care of yourself first. It took me a while to be able to let that go, to let go of the "If I just put in more hours, this one feature could almost meet that deadline..." It's hard cause we instinctually want to help, we want our project to succeed, we want our company to look good.

When I could finally mentally let go of feeling responsible for the project/company as a whole, I was able to cut back my hours to a normal amount, which helped with the burn out feeling a lot. It's hard to maintain the mindset sometimes tho, every now and then I still get sucked up into the stress and chaos of the project. You just gotta do your best to remind yourself that you need to put taking care of you first. I wish you all the luck!