Burning Out

I haven’t burned out, but I’ve been close. There was a time a few years back when I was working a lot, traveling a lot, trying to watch activities with my kids, making time for my wife, and more. While I have had stretches were I feel like that (like the last month), usually I have calm periods that balance my out. Across about 18 months, I realized I hadn’t gotten enough breaks and worked with my boss to lighten the load.

During the last 18 months under the pandemic, I’ve had a few busy times, and some stress, but overall, I’ve managed to cope well. My coping tips have helped, and I’ve made a conscious effort to demand less of myself and slow down. It helps that I work for a UK company that values balance and tries to ensure employees work hard, but not too hard. While I  sometimes struggle and get very busy, I do get to balance that out and relax at times.

That hasn’t been the case for everyone this past year. There is a blog about developer burnout, noting that a lot of developers shouldered a larger workload during the pandemic. I think the move to remote work is stressful, and it can be hard to adjust to expectations, or know what we should expect. There is often a feeling when you work remotely that you need to do more, because no one else can see how hard you are working. There is also a temptation to take some of the time that you used to spend commuting and get a few “extra” things done each day.

Many managers also haven’t known how to adapt to remote work and can add to stress with either more work, higher expectations, or a lack of awareness of how employees feel. They may unknowingly, or purposefully, make things worse. Add to all of this the challenges of managing kids, juggling noise in your workspace, and finding space to work with others in the house. It’s no wonder many people felt some burnout in the last year.

The article gives some stages of burnout, a way to measure yourself, and some strategies for coping. While a lot of these may feel like common sense, when we are overwhelmed and busy, we often forget common sense. It’s easy to dismiss the effectiveness of simple strategies. It’s also easy to underestimate just how much better you will feel by taking even small steps to combat burnout. Even things you think might make a tiny difference can help.

I know there are some very poor work environments and awful managers. If you are in these situations, I’d urge you to look hard to find a new position somewhere, anywhere. Even another bad job will give you a change of scenery and can help in the short term. Even in the poor jobs, however, I’ve often had others that felt the same way in my team or in a related team. Talking, sharing, and bonding with others in a similar situation can help, if for no other reason than you can share, vent, and empathize with each other.

Burnout is a real problem among technology workers. It’s not a personal failure, but it is something that you have to recognize in your situation. It is also important to make changes and find ways to reduce the stress of your situation over time. There aren’t usually quick fixes, but there are ways to change your life to better handle the situation.

If you are struggling, please reach out to friends, family, or others and get help. Things can get better.

Steve Jones

Listen to the podcast at Libsyn, Stitcher, Spotify, or iTunes.

About way0utwest

Editor, SQLServerCentral
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