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Re: How do you avoid "Code Burnout"?

by svsingh (Priest)
on Jun 30, 2003 at 16:50 UTC ( #270220=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to How do you avoid "Code Burnout"?

I could just use a diversion and play chess or something, but I know in the back of my mind, I have to get back to that code sometime, so.. why not now?

For what it's worth, I had a burnout problem last year. I put in way too much time at work and it caught up with me. I took some time off and pretty much avoided touching computers. After the "so why not now" period, I actually started to enjoy being disconnected from my work. Then I started to miss working on the computer. Once I got to the point where I missed working, I knew I was ready to step back in. I just had to shake off the more recent bad associations with working and remember why I started working with computers in the first place. That re-energized me. The total process took about two weeks to get over a six month build-up/burnout.

I'll admit that I was lucky to have a manager who saw the problem and gave me some flexibility in ducking out of work for a few weeks and others may not be so fortunate. My only real advice is if you can put off that feeling of "why not now" and wait until you're exicted to get back to that code, then do it. It's hard to feel excited about something when you have to do it more than you want to.

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Re: Re: How do you avoid "Code Burnout"?
by Nuke (Scribe) on Jun 30, 2003 at 17:57 UTC

    On this note, I've got kind of a sub-topic to discuss... The software company I work for just landed a contract with a bank that is, I believe, the biggest in the world. There were some things promised that have some of us developers scrambling to impliment.(Yes, the sales rep sold a couple features that are vapor-ware. Tsk tsk.) Needless to say, this represents a sizeable chunk of money, so we're doing it.

    Last week my boss came in and announced that if we couldn't keep to our schedule, that some vacations may have to be cancelled. Ick

    I swear, I'm getting close to the burnout mentioned above. I'm not like many of the other programmers where I work who leave for the day and are done. I work at home because I enjoy my work. This is great, but when I start to burn out, my yearly 2-week vacation is what revitalizes me. I return to work full of energy, and chomping at the bit.

    My question is, how to best go about showing my boss that, in the long run, the vacations will keep us closer to being on schedule than foregoing them, and forcing us all to work long hours, eventually hating the project to the point that we desire to do the bare minimum to get it done. How do you tell management this? They're not programmers, so, I need to word this in a way they'll understand. Any help here would be appreciated.


      Sounds like you are starting in on a Death March. If you are a technical lead (or are willing to stick your neck out) Rapid Development has a number of potentially useful suggestions for how to handle projects like yours. (Its suggestions are less useful if you can't get them into the hands of someone who is part of the decision making process though.)
      tilly's suggestion of Rapid Development is a great one. What you described is pretty similar to the case study. I'd also add, that if you can't sell those ideas upstream, try to protect yourself by insisting on clear requirements from your manager and have them push that message upstream. It's bad enough when you have to work in that kind of environment. Doing it while shooting for a moving target is a huge morale killer.

      Personally, I think there's a pretty close relationship between burnout and morale/depression. When I can see the finish line, I have boundless amounts of energy. It's when I seem to take a step back for every one forward that I notice the fatigue of burnout. Once that starts, it's pretty hard to produce at my best. The longer I feel I'm running in place (or going backwards), the more burnt out I get.

      You may not be able to communicate that all the way up your management chain, but if you can get through to your manager, then it may help control the parts of the project that directly affect you.

      If this sort of thing becomes a habit in your company and you find you're getting burnt out freqently, then you have to look out for yourself and consider walking away. I did that in January. (The factors that caused the burnout in my other post just got worse in the ten months since my two week break.) The time off was great and I finally opened that copy of Teach Yourself Perl in 21 Days that was on my bookshelf for two years. Within four months, I was at a new job and that's going pretty well.

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