I won’t tell you to stop working, but I can try to help you not burn out

Self care is a problem in the tech industry. We don’t do enough of it, plain and simple. And we’re allowing the culture we’re creating to make exhaustion a badge of honor.

Our brains need time to rest and recharge, never mind our hearts and bodies. There are charts that show you how working more than 40 hours a week invokes the law of diminishing returns. People have done talks on the subject. There is solid research out there. This isn’t rocket science. We all need rest. Yes, even you.

Somewhere along the way toward the miraculous interconnected culture we have now, driving yourself to the end of your rope became a rite of passage. Very few of us in the industry haven’t had that experience of being so tired we can’t mentally process the code we’re reading anymore. It’s at that point that bugs start appearing and it’s time to take a break before we make things worse.

Where did that need for you to work so much and so hard come from in the first place? Was it bad planning? Miscommunication within the team? Unrealistic expectations for the project timeline? What was the justification for that first time you put in those long hours and when was it decided that it was the new normal?

Regardless of how it started, there’s only one person that’s going to make it stop. That’s you. Whatever company you work for, at the end of the day it’s up to you to know your limits. Even though they may truly want to see their employees happy, that company may still end up asking too much of you one day.

In response to seeing so many friends and acquaintances succumb to fatigue, I felt I had to do something, no matter how small. I had used some resources in the past that had helped me and I knew they might help my colleagues. So, I bought a domain name and made a plan.

It took a couple of days to pull selfcare.tech together, which only took that long because I ran the idea by some folks I trust and had to make adjustments. The site had a different title originally, but that was scrapped when I found out it was a name that carried a lot of baggage for some people. The design changed too when a friend pointed out that the color scheme wasn’t in a11y compliance. If you’re making something to help people, the last thing you want to do is hurt them unintentionally, right?

So what is selfcare.tech? It’s a website and twitter account meant to provide a curated selection of solid, simple resources that myself and others in our industry have used to put the breaks on and make more space to recharge. Of course you don’t have to be in tech at all to use the resources. Everyone can take some time for self care.

The site is also meant to be a living, breathing document, with more resources being added on a regular basis. I’ve made it open source and encourage those who want to try out making their first pull request to submit a link to something they’ve found useful.

My hope with the project is that helps you all carve a little time out to take care of yourselves so that you can keep creating these amazing things you’ve all built. I include myself in that. I’ve already been using quite a few of the resources on the site and every time I get a submission, I check out the link and give whatever it is a try.

It really does help me to take that walk, drink a glass of water, put down the phone and just take care of myself for a bit. I hope it helps you, too.