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The burnout, how do you deal with it?

DeChamp
Just a coder and a dad. I love my family and I love to code!!!! started coding at 11, so I have 25 years under my belt. Still love learning about it every day. Black lives matter!
・2 min read

TL;DR

feeling overwhelmed today, how do you tend to deal with your days you feel burned out.

The gist

Somedays, you wake up and you just feel it. Today is that day for me. I woke up to an email from a client, requesting some changes to her online application form. This thing is pretty large. The changes, not that big of a deal.

I just started thinking of how annoying it's going to be to change this stuff. I mean I wrote it in symphony 3 forms, so it's done proper. It's just that now I have to change the entity model, the twig templates, migrate the database changes.... uggg!!

I love object oriented software, but sometimes I just hate it. Sometimes, I just want to go back to the old days of 1 liner changes, where it would write to flat files. As simple as a 2 minute change to add/remove features.

Sure it was easy to break, but it was also easy to fix!

The problem isn't OOP. The problem is, that I then started to think about how I could refactor the entire form to be React/API and make the api store json docs, so they could be modified without a huge headache. Using the json-schema on the front end for the fields.

But how much work would that be?! And what if they never change a thing on the form again? How much time would I have wasted for no benefit.

Would I use PHP or node for the backend? Convert the Mysql to postgres or elasticsearch (nope, that is super over kill).

Next thing I know, I'm annoyed, and I feel like I know to many things on "how it should be", but there is never enough time in the day. And anytime you're certain, you built it the best way possible, 6 months down the road, you are annoyed with yourself for not doing it X, Y, Z...

Also part of me feels like the "you have to do it this way, because everyone is in agreement" is bullshit. That is because the other part of me is "everyone over complicated things. Sometime, simple is better". An internal war. If the software end results are the exact same, and fully tested, is one really better than that other? Well how easy is it to maintain? :/

So today, I just feel the burn, and it's not fun. Luckily I know these only last a few hours or a day at max. I code literally everyday. I just have to let the annoyance pass.

So whats your story and how do you deal with it?

--DeChamp

Discussion (5)

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xngwng profile image
Xing Wang

Hm.., if I may, I think the issue you mentioned boiled down to these three things:

  1. Random tasks that seems to come up all the time: First thing in the morning, make a list of tasks I want to finish today. Then I feel less stressed about random stuff that come up, because I ask is it more important than the things that I already decided to do today.

  2. Technical Debt: feeling stressed about endless amount of technical debt. Know it always exists no matter how big the company, and think about if that debt really matters at this stage? Is it impacting performance? It is impacting users? Not all technical debt impact users. Not all software is designed perfectly from scratch. All engineers will look back and say they would have designed things if they know what they know now, but many businesses still run fine.

  3. Decision Paralysis regarding tech or tool choices: I think it is like Occam's Razer, try to pick the one you know most and best, unless you are sure it won't do the job. Try to avoid grass is always greener problem.

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dechamp profile image
DeChamp Author

You did a good job at boiling it down. You're right, it's best to have a task list. I've never been the best at keeping these, but when I do it always helps.

Tech debt is definitely a given. I know it's there, and this isn't even tech debt compared to a lot of project I work on in my profession. This is great code on my part. I just think I let the morning overwhelm me and as you said, the random task got in the way.

It probably would only take me 15 minutes to update the entire thing, but I think part of the frustration was I did not do my duty and my test are not 100% coverage, so I knew I was regretting the testing of the form to come ahead.

I will keep your statement in mind next time I get feeling overwhelmed on picking the right tool for the job. Sure it's fun to think of what cool tech could I used, or how could I do this better? But it's only appropriate to do that when it's for fun, not for existing work.

Thank you for your response.

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bgadrian profile image
Adrian B.G. • Edited

My guess is that you focus on the wrong things, most burnouts I've seen at peers (I never had one, by applying some simple rules) and colleagues (product/services providers, non-technical) involved money. When you work for money you handle the tasks as a burden, when you code for your side-projects you should get energized.

an email from a client, requesting some changes to her online application form.

I think you didn't got down by technical and implementation reasons, but rather for not doing what you like and/or when you like it.

My story ..

I for one quit doing side-projects a long time ago, I thought (and I was right) that the burden of dealing with the end users, their lack of knowledge and professionalism and so on did not worth it on the long run.

My sanity is worth more then some extra cash. Also by using that extra time on learning I took my career to the next level each couple of years. I could learn what I liked, I could brake things and didn't pay for the damage if it occurred and so on.

So how do I keep the burnout away, a few simple rules I have:

  • no payed side-projects
  • lots of breaks (during the week, outdoor sports, swimming, walking ...)
  • holidays that does not involve any technology
  • do what you like (I'm blessed that this also pays the bills)
  • master the schedule, not vice-versa. I should lay the terms when I do what and where (outside of work ofc)
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dechamp profile image
DeChamp Author

Thank you for your response.

I do feel like you are partially right on the part where you say that I'm focused on the wrong parts. I specifically cut out all clients, except this one. She pays well and normally doesn't request to many changes.

The other night I did free work on the layout, because it was fun. Then today when she asked for the changes on the form, I was annoyed. You nailed it with the fact that it is because it's not a fun thing I want to do, but a work item.

I'm not practicing most of your items, but I think I need to start doing so. These specifically.

  • lots of breaks (during the week, outdoor sports, swimming, walking ...)
  • holidays that does not involve any technology
  • master the schedule, not vice-versa. I should lay the terms when I do what and where (outside of work ofc)

I appreciate you taking the time to respond.

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mortoray profile image
edA‑qa mort‑ora‑y

Exercise. Simple answer to stress related problems.

Whenever I'm just not feeling like working, or a problem is running me in circles, I'll go do some physical activity. I have biking, walking, yoga, and weight lifting as stand-bys. Instead of wasting time before I screen I'll go do some sports.

This both improves my physical condition and brings my mental condition back to a calm state. From here I'm a bit refreshed and willing to tackle the problem again.

I think if you keep the stress down on a continue basis, the long-term burn-out feeling may not come. Of course, once at the burn-out level, I don't have a good idea how to fix it -- I'm addressing mine by major career changes.