Burnout — Looking back…..

This post was originally written back in 2010….I’ve been a developer for 8+ years now, and this still stands…..although it has been superseded by this post….. but nothing has changed……

I’ve been a web developer for over 3 years now (professionally), and a lot longer if you go back to when I first ever started to code (anything). It’s not a job for me, it’s a hobby and a passion, and something that I never want to stop doing. But still, every now and again, I get “Project Burnout”, where I just lose the concentration on a single piece of work, for varying reasons.

This hasn’t happened for months now, but following on from an article I’ve just read, I thought I’d do a little post….!

So, I’ve tried to identify the reasons for burnout in web development, so I can try to reduce the likelihood of this happening in future projects I develop on, and if it does happen, try to establish likely causes and get round them:

  • Lack of information — there is nothing more frustrating that not knowing exactly what needs doing before starting. Going in “blind” can have such a negative effect before you’ve really hit the code.
  • Long projects — Occasionally, projects over run, and keep slipping further and further past the original deadline. Eventually, something has to give; and normally, its the developers willingness to continue working on the project until things are tidied up. Slippage causes upset and frustration for everyone, and that’s not a good mindset to be working in.
  • Disruptions — Unavoidable, of course. But if they are kept to a minimum, we can hopefully minimise number 2!
  • Paired Programming — It’s inevitable that a developer will always think their work can be better. That’s just us. So the longer a single developer spends on a piece of work, the more chance there is of them re-factoring when its not really needed. Introducing paired programming may not be the most cost effective method in the short term, but in the long run, it can have a massive improvement on the code produced, and the attitude of the developers involved.
  • Let the developers have creative freedom — Again, 99% of developers will want to do things in the “coolest” way possible, using the latest technologies. This might add time to a project, but it could also increase the drive of the developer throughout.

Of course, the points above are based on my own personal opinions on what could cause burnout, from experience throughout my career, and in no way a criticism or reflection of my current employers development methods / teams, because, they are awesome. I’m extremely lucky with my current job, in that we are actively encouraged to use latest technologies, work together and such.

Many people think that a web developers job is easy and relaxed. 
 Especially when they see staff rooms with games consoles etc for the staff to use.

The Psychological effects of immense concentration for long periods of time are huge, and personally, I think web developers are high-level risks for burn out, which is exactly why they need that environment to just get away from it all.

(This blog post was inspired from a Wikipedia article relating to the Psychological effects of Burnout)


Originally published at www.lifeinpixels.co.uk on August 31, 2015.

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