Burnout is widespread among professional iOS developers. However, we don’t see enough talks, discussions, and content being created to help devs understand and prevent it.
Many iOS devs experiencing burnout are not even aware of it. Some even start to wrongly believe that “This negative state I’m constantly in is just how things are.”
As a result, they end up jeopardizing their well-being, career, and life plans.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- what are the common reasons for burnout among iOS developers
- how burnout can negatively affect your career and life plans
- actions to prevent burnout and experience a fulfilling career
Burnout was recently listed as an occupational phenomenon by the World Health Organization (WHO). It is being described as a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been managed successfully. Burnout is being characterized by exhaustion, negative feelings related to one’s job, and low productivity.
Software development is a creative and mentally draining activity, so work overload is a common theme. It’s tough to keep up with the constant challenges, demands, short deadlines, and incoming/changing requirements.
iOS developers have been sharing with us various professional challenges they face daily. We’ve repeatedly been hearing phrases such as “I’m working all the time,” “I wish I had better colleagues,” “I wish I had more time and space to deliver better results,“ “I’m not proud of the work we deliver,” “I don’t feel appreciated,” “I don’t have time to study,” “I don’t have time for anything fun...”
If not handled appropriately, those challenges can lead to burnout and negatively impact their work performance, overall career progression, and life plans. However, what many iOS devs don’t seem to understand are the root causes of their burnout.
Some of the main reasons causing stress and burnout among iOS devs are the following:
- an ever-growing backlog of tasks without clear expectations (even though the team produces a lot, they don’t feel like they ever accomplish any goals/milestones; the lack of celebrations is a clear sign)
- too much work-in-progress at the same time
- the accumulation of missed deadlines
- impossible-to-meet deadlines enforced by managers or non-devs
- shallow and cloudy requirements that are hard (or impossible) to estimate
- very long and stressful iterations; usually releasing new app versions only every 3 to 12 months
- spaghetti code and lousy architecture slowing down the team
- lack of automation in general (tests, continuous integration, continuous deployment...)
- git branches that take days, weeks, or even months to be merged (when devs attempt to merge them, the work is already out of sync causing conflicts in the code and the team)
- lack of proper and continuous training and education
- feeling intense anxiety when pushing an app to production or releasing to the App Store because of the possibility of bugs, mistakes or simply doing something wrong (e.g., releasing with the wrong dev endpoints configuration)
- fear of missing out new developments in the industry or being left behind by new technologies and platforms
- inability to see a clear career progression; “things seem fine now, but what about in five years?”
- not feeling appreciated
- working in companies that don’t offer a career plan
- bully bosses/managers/peers and hostile work environment
- switching jobs frequently
- bad dietary choices
- lack of physical exercise
Sadly, such highly stressful situations can deprive iOS developers of enjoying and appreciating their contributions and drastically minimize the rewards of their hard work.
If you can relate to the issues above, or you feel you’re struggling with similar problems, you’re not alone.
For many years we’ve been helping iOS devs achieve enriching and fulfilling careers. And burnout is one of the top factors we see destroying career plans.
In our experience, a career plan is only good if you can follow it in the long-term.
If you set a career plan, burnout and give up after six months, that was a bad—unsustainable—plan.
It may take years to recover from burnout and regain passion for your job. Without proper help, it can actually never go away. So every time devs reach burnout, there’s a huge chance it’ll set them back years in their career and life plans.
Thus, an essential element for long-term gains is a sustainable plan. In other words, you must master skills and practices that generate positive returns in the short- and long-term.
We have faced the challenges that lead to burnout, and in our experience, they are manageable and mostly preventable. In fact, solving those challenges and helping your fellow devs thrive is one of the most rewarding experiences you can go through as a professional.
For example, it’s common for developers to get stressed, even panic when they face the so-called “spaghetti” code with a massive number of dependencies and no automated tests.
Such fragile systems are quite hard to change with confidence. So ensuring that your contributions work and that no defects were introduced is, of course, extremely stressful. Moreover, short deadlines will just add extra anxiety to the mix.
It’s not easy to solve those challenges, but it’s rewarding (and much better than the alternative of just coping!).
The solution, in this example, is to design components with a low degree of coupling and write a fast, reliable, and comprehensive suite of tests.
Of course, if your peers don't follow or care for good practices as you do, you can’t do it alone. Software development is a social activity, so a healthy and sustainable operation is a team effort.
Another source of conflict and frustration in the workplace is when devs put so much effort into creating good solutions, and their peers completely nullify it with lousy changes.
That’s why excellent education, training, mentoring, high-standards, team building exercises, leadership, and a healthy team culture is so important.
It’s not easy, but it’s simple if you and your team commit to daily disciplines. In turn, it can drastically alleviate you from stress, help others along the way, and clear your path for a long-term career fulfillment.
Maybe you can’t find joy in your current work environment. If you’re working with bullies, it may be time to look for a better place. But if you like your peers, be sure it can be a rewarding experience to start leading them to a healthier, more sustainable, balanced and profitable work-life.
And if you don’t have the skills to do so, it’s time to start building them. You can either request your employer/HR for better training or use your resources to do so. Regardless, it’s essential to invest in yourself to achieve your goals and experience short- and long-term career fulfillment.
You shouldn’t feel alone if you’re experiencing burnout, stress, or anxiety. It can happen to everyone.
However, you don’t have to accept this negative state as the “norm.” If you feel like your stress and anxiety levels are getting out of control, you should seek professional help.
You can prevent burnout by building up valuable dev and leadership skills and incorporating sustainable practices and healthy habits into your daily routine.
Remember: Delivering work you’re proud of—while helping your fellow iOS devs along the way—is exceptionally rewarding.