Programming as a Job and a Hobby
Jeremy Woertink Aug 18
It's really easy to get burned out. This isn't just a programming thing, it's a anything thing. You can get burnt out on eating at a restaurant, playing a game, watching a show, or working in any industry.
"Burn out" is just where you get bored, or tired of something to the point where a thing you once loved, you're not starting to resent and hate.
When I first started programming, I was so overwhelmed by it all. It took some time, but once I started to get it, it was a blast. I was finally in a state where people were constantly coming up to me for help because I could create the product of their imagination.
I got so in to programming, that when I would open my browser, my first page would be Github. I would always excited to see what new PRs were submitted. What new commits fixed bugs I was having on different libraries. It was amazing to see how others attacked problems.
After working a full day building websites, I'd be sitting there watching TV, and I would be so bored. I would end up grabbing my laptop, and start writing some code.
Breaking the Mundane
Since I was doing web development during the day, and had nothing better to do during the night, I decided that programming completely different things during my free time would be a great way to change it up. I started working on some video games in both 2D and 3D. It was a completely different game (pun not intended). I was now writing code in ways I never needed to before. I was applying new concepts, and learning that I suck at math.
By working on something completely outside of what I normally work on, I was able to get out of the rut and tunnel vision I had from my normal day to day business. I did this for a while, but eventually that led me to another burn out. I sucked at making games, and was bored of making websites, so now was time to try mobile apps! A new language to write in, and some new experiences would be super helpful.
Eventually I started to get burn out again. This time, however, not from the coding. This time it was more from the culture. There felt like a new shift in the culture, and I noticed a lot of devs started to fall in to the Grumpy dev category. All of a sudden I was being graded on how I wrote my code regardless of if it worked fine or not. It wasn't "hip", or using the latest cutting edge styles and design patterns. I was being mocked on open source work where I contributed to things in my free time for my own personal enjoyment. This wasn't just me.
I was in a spot now where going to programming meetups weren't fun because I couldn't really get along with other developers. My point of view on different subject matter (programming related or not) weren't in alignment with the rest. It was almost like a LIVE reddit comment thread. If you've never spent any amount of time on reddit reading through the comments, it's basically like an organism. At one point reddit loves Elon Musk, next minute it's an all out hate fest, and if you don't align with the reddit sentiment, you're downvoted in to oblivion. (Elon being an example, but this goes for tons of topics).
Recently I decided to start writing these blog posts because I felt like I may be at the end of my programming road. It doesn't really bring me as much joy as it once did, so I'd like to pass along my own personal experiences and knowledge before that happens. Even recently, I had written a blog post detailing some of the work I do for a particular client of mine, and how this work can be challenging. Waking up to people telling me my post is crap, and I'm admitting to money laundering and fraud is not a great way to start a work day. I didn't have the energy to sit there and fight with each individual person across 20 different mediums how nothing I'm doing is illegal, so I removed the post.
Seriously, at this point, running a taco truck sounds way more fun (and I've always wanted to do it).
So if you're burned out to this level, how do you get back? How do you find your way back in to the passion, and motivation to build and create?
- Get a different job? Maybe working in a new environment will help that
- Take a vacation! Sometimes that's just not possible, but get out of the house.
- Try a new side project. This could help with some additional income, and a new challenge. Unless you're already backlogged with side work.
- Try programming in a new OS environment. Always use Mac? Try Windows! No seriously, a different OS is going to teach you a lot of new things and break you out of your comfort zone.
- Have a hobby outside of programming? Try mixing in some code. I'm a musician, so I do have some code related to music.
- Korean Spa! For real though, if you haven't been to one, DO IT! They're amazing.
- Meetup groups not programming related. Like a hiking group or something. They learn that you're a programmer, and then start asking you crazy questions about it. Though, you'll get the "I have the next billion dollar idea" speech every time.
- Step away for a while. Just like _why or Ryan B. did, they took some time away, then came back under the radar.
Have an idea that works for you? Comment below to help others break out of the burn out.