Recently, I had to recover from my own bout of burnout because I was trying to do too much. What started as me trying to learn a couple of new technologies turned into me travelling around and speaking about them which is really cool! But then it started to snowball. I was working on something tech-related for 16+ hours a day and at first it was great.
I've learned a lot really fast, but here I am about as burnt out as a piece of toast. So I closed the laptop for a few weeks after work and started focusing on my other hobbies. Now that I've leveled back out and forced myself to stay on a normal schedule, I can remember why I spend time on stuff that's outside of tech.
This round of burnout was completely my fault. Any of my hobbies that weren't tech-related kept getting pushed to the back-burner until they disappeared. I know a lot of tech people who have a similar obsessive tick where they start playing with a new code toy and don't do anything else. That's what non-tech hobbies help break up. Doing something like learning an instrument will take all of your tech energy and focus it on something else.
When you do that, you give yourself time to digest all of the things you've been working on. We all know about walking away from a bug after a certain amount of time. The same thing applies to the industry in general. Sometimes you need to completely disconnect from all things tech. Spend some time thinking about and working on other things in your free time so that you don't burnout in your career.
The internet helps us all live in our own little bubbles so it's easy to get disconnected from the world. When you shake up your routine and put the computer to sleep, it unplugs you from your usual bubble. Do you know what the current things in your hobbies are? We spend so much time focusing on our tech skillsets that we forget about the other areas we love!
When you stay current in areas outside of tech, it helps you whenever you do refocus on tech. Now you have more ideas to reference when you run into problems anywhere. Plus it makes it easier to strike up a conversations with different people because you have a wider range of things to talk about. Once you've taken a deep dive into several other areas, you come back up with more tools you can use.
Tech is life for a lot of us. There are open-source projects to contribute to, new programming languages to learn, and other new toys coming out all the time. It's easy to get wrapped up in this because there are so many things you can experiment with and it's not always for your career. Many of us made tech a huge part of our lives because it's actually really fun.
That's why you have to step away. Looking at different things in the same field limits your exposure to all of the other wonderful things out here. Taking a break from tech to go paint a picture or to try new recipes just makes life more interesting. It's like you get to relieve a pressure that you didn't know was building. You'll get to laugh and be frustrated in different ways and that's part of what makes life so great.
Getting out of your normal meetup and conference circuit will not only give you new connections, but you'll get to meet people you might not normally talk to. It's always good to talk to people who are interested in the other things you enjoy. Giving your tech group a break to hang out with your baker friends will expose you to things you didn't know existed, like these competitions.
Have you ever been to a baking competition? It has the same level of intensity as a hackathon and you get to eat everything when it's over. Just like you learn from people in tech, take the time to learn from people outside of tech. They know things you would never learn from the tech community. If you listen closely, you'll be able to translate their expertise into something you can use in tech that no one else has thought of.
Everybody has stuff they liked to do as a kid that they gave up for reasons they no longer remember. Don't let that keep happening. Your career is important, but it's not more important than you. One of the things that helps make tech better is when people bring in their unique experiences. That's why your hobbies are so important.
They're a reflection of who you are and what you like to do. Losing track of your hobbies because you're focused on being great in tech is like losing a part of yourself. You were somebody before you entered tech and you shouldn't lose sight of who that was. That's how you avoid burnout and how you keep yourself sane.
There's an immense pressure on software engineers and people who work in tech to always keep their skills up to date. We're supposed to keep track of what changes are happening in our tech stacks while making sure we're learning the newest technologies and best practices. It's so easy to lose yourself in this shuffle to stay current. That's why you have to fight for your hobbies.
Give yourself a cutoff time for doing tech projects after work and do something else. It doesn't mean you're lazy or that you don't want to advance your career. It means that you understand how to set boundaries and you know when it's time for you to take a break. Don't wait for burnout to happen before you pick up an old hobby. Do those hobbies with the same passion you have for tech and you'll start to notice a difference in how you approach everything.
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