Avoiding BurnoutFriday, Dec 21, 2018 · 3 min read
As talked about recently in this thread, I've been experiencing major burnout over the last few weeks. This is a combination of stress from the day job coupled with wanting to push things out faster then I could on side projects. Because of this my productivity has went from an all time high to near nothing. So, I decided to take some time to reflect and also talk about how I plan to avoid this happening again.
I would like to first point out that no one else caused this to happen, this stretch of burnout is totally on me. I wanted to push myself hard to stay productive everyday, which was fine at first, then eventually turned into being unhealthy. Most days I worked my 9-5 where I was fully engaged in my work and not taking any breaks. I did this so that when I got home I had nothing to worry about and could focus on my side projects. This was my first huge mistake, because of this my work suffered and I wasn't taking the necessary time I needed to push out quality code. This meant that more stress was added on because I then had to correct that code once bugs were found. Once I got home from work I ate something as I was getting aquainted with what happend on twitter throughout the day and jumped right into banging away on my keyboard on whatever I was working on that night. This went on from around 6:00pm to the wee hours of the morning. Sounds good right? I was hustling, getting stuff done, shipping, everything a maker wants to do on the side. But if you noticed throughout that entire day I never took anytime for myself. To add to this my weekends consisted of waking up at 7:30 like normal and working until I fell asleep that night. I literally didn't do anything else but build stuff. Because of all of this accumulated, I totally burnt out.
Making for me is a hobby right now. I make very little monetary wise from it, I use it as a way to build stuff I want and to connect with other poeple building cool things. While making still remains a hobby I need to treat it as such. The highlight of that is that I do it when I can, and I do it because I want to. Before I felt the pressure to really ship, this was all self-induced. I wanted to be the person you see thats shipping something new every week. The thing I didn't realize is most of those people are making full-time or have very little other responsibilties to deal with. So with that being said I need to make sure I stay within my own scope as much as possible. I think building good habits and staying consistent are key to being a sucessful maker. But knowing when to take breaks and take some time off are just as important skills. Before I shipped something everyday for almost a month straight. In the future I plan to take a few days out of the week to work on stuff, and then other days to completely detach and take time for myself. In the past I found that approach to work better then taking a few hours each day to do relaxing and working. I want to be able to focus on one thing a day, my brain just works better that way. Another precautionary step I am going to take is planning out when I want things to get done. Before I didn't sleep until whatever task was done, and that's not the correct way to do it at all. Giving myself generous deadlines on when things need to be done and not stressing if I don't hit those on the head will be great for my mental health.
I appreciate all the support that was given to me when expressing that I was really burnt out. Knowing I have people that value mental health like that in the maker community is amazing. For the rest of the year I'm going to take it slow and get a full plan in place to start shipping again in the New Year. I'm excited to do some awesome new things next year at a pace that is sustainable for me!