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Developer Burnout: How to Deal With It?

If a developer claimed they’ve never had a brush with burnout, it’s either they’re superhuman or they lied. But let’s be real. It’s most likely the latter. 

The dynamic world of coding chaos is never easy, especially with those impossible deadlines, poor project timeline estimates, chaotic app development plans, and miss-release schedules. A continuous case like this pushes developers to work beyond what is physically and mentally sustainable.

That’s where the developer burnout comes in.

Endless exhaustion, no productivity, constant negativism– you might think it’s just one of those days that you got super lazy.  But turns out it lasts longer than expected.

Recent Gallup surveys reveal most workers (about 76%) experience burnout. And if you’re one of them, there are some practices that can help you bring the spark back and deal with it. We’ll also include statistics from the State of Developer Wellness Report 2024 to support our points and provide additional insights into effective strategies for overcoming burnout.

How Do You Know You Have a Developer Burnout?

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Do you know that over half (54%) of developers experience occasional burnout?

It may start when you notice a decline in your enthusiasm for coding, a constant feeling of exhaustion even after a long, good night’s sleep, or a growing sense of cynicism towards your work and projects. 

In fact, over 23% of developers feel like they don’t even have a sense of purpose. Each new task feels like a huge chore, and they find it increasingly difficult to summon the motivation to tackle it.

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But how do you know that it’s not just you being lazy?

Burnout tends to persist over time. It affects your performance consistently across various tasks and projects. It can manifest physically, such as headaches, muscle tension, or even illness due to chronic stress. 

However, you might still enjoy coding. But over time, you find yourself always struggling to muster the energy to engage in it. The work feels meaningless, and every day starts to feel the same.

Meanwhile, feeling lazy might be more sporadic and not necessarily tied to specific circumstances. When you feel lazy, you might experience a temporary lack of motivation or energy, often seeking immediate gratification or avoiding tasks altogether, but without the underlying sense of constant emotional exhaustion.

Burnout typically leads to a decline in the quality of your work, as well as increased errors and difficulty concentrating. If you notice a significant drop in your performance despite your best efforts, it could be a sign of burnout rather than laziness.

How to Deal With Developer Burnout?

The best way is always to seek professional help. But, if you’re looking for immediate strategies to cope with developer burnout, these tips might be helpful to make it less painful and make everything more manageable.

Review and find the trigger

Take some time to reflect on your recent experiences at work and how they have impacted your well-being. Consider moments when you felt particularly stressed, overwhelmed, or demotivated.

The report shows that as many as 76.5% of surveyed developers make time to check on their health and well-being regularly. You can start by looking for patterns or recurring themes in your experiences.

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Are there specific tasks, projects, or situations that consistently trigger feelings of burnout? Am I feeling overwhelmed or drained? Am I giving myself enough time for self-care?

Don’t forget the internal factors. Are there any personal habits or thought patterns that might be contributing to your burnout? For example, perfectionism, over-commitment, or difficulty setting boundaries.

When you know the trigger, it will be much easier to gain a better understanding of the factors contributing to your stress and exhaustion.

Go to your safe place

Everyone has their own safe place. Some prefer to do their hobbies, while others like to talk it out to their closest friends or families.

Your safe place is a space or activity where you feel calm, relaxed, and free from stress. It’s a place where you can recharge and rejuvenate your mind and body.

Once you’ve identified your safe place or activity, prioritize making time for it regularly, especially when you’re feeling overwhelmed or burnt out. Set boundaries to protect this time and ensure that you have dedicated opportunities to recharge and take care of yourself.

Prioritize work-life balance

Developer burnout often starts when you neglect your personal needs and well-being in favor of work demands. This imbalance can lead to chronic stress, exhaustion, and feelings of disillusionment with work.

Fortunately, more and more tech companies are aware of the importance of this work-life balance and are implementing initiatives and policies to support their employees’ well-being.

The same report says that at least 77% of companies accommodate developers’ timeout requests. It’s easier for developers to take the necessary breaks and recharge.

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Establish clear boundaries between work and personal life to prevent one from encroaching on the other. Define your specific work hours and commit to unplugging from work-related tasks during personal time. 

Understand which tasks and activities are most important to you and allocate your time and energy accordingly. Communicate these boundaries to colleagues and supervisors to ensure they are respected.

Learn to say “no”

Some developers struggle with people-pleasing tendencies, feeling obligated to say “yes” to every request or task that comes their way. This behavior can stem from a desire to be liked, a fear of disappointing others, or a belief that saying “no” is selfish or unprofessional. If you say yes to everything you’ve been asked for, then get ready to feel overworked— just like one-third of other developers.

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Remember, you’re a developer, not a superhero. You have limits and boundaries that need to be respected, both by yourself and by others. Constantly saying “yes” to everything can lead to burnout and undermine your ability to perform at your best.

Learning to say “no” is not about being selfish or uncooperative. It means filtering which tasks you really have to do and which ones are not even your responsibilities. All of this is for the sake of your well-being and effectiveness.

Work smarter, not harder

Writing good code takes time and a lot of thinking. Contrary to popular stereotypes, effective developers are not the ones who live and breathe code, stay awake all night to resolve bugs, and memorize their code extensively.

An effective developer works smartly. They focus on solving the right problems in the right way. So, working harder doesn’t always equate to working smarter. Use tools that can streamline the whole process and eliminate those mundane, repetitive tasks.

For example, using version control systems like Git allows developers to manage code changes efficiently, collaborate seamlessly with team members, and track project history effectively. 

Integrated development environments (IDEs) such as Visual Studio Code or IntelliJ IDEA offer features like code completion, syntax highlighting, and debugging tools that improve productivity and accuracy.

Wrapping Up

Developer burnout is real. All those lines of code mean nothing if the developers behind them are exhausted, demotivated, and struggling to maintain their passion for their work. 

Like the small beetles of life, the small symptoms of burnout can continually become stronger and stronger if we don’t interrupt them. By catching the mild feelings, we give ourselves the time for preventive action. If you want to delve deeper into developer burnout and see the statistics firsthand, download the State of Developer Wellness Report 2024.

Andre Oentoro is the founder of Breadnbeyond, an award-winning explainer video company. He helps businesses increase conversion rates, close more sales, and get positive ROI from explainer videos (in that order). Find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.
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The Essential Soft Skills for Developers

When it comes to developers, technical skills aren’t the only thing that matters. In order to survive in the workforce, they must equip themselves with soft skills to avoid miscommunication and gain credibility.

According to a research report, 85% of career success stems from proficient soft skills and people skills. In contrast, hard skills, such as technical expertise and knowledge, contribute only 15% to overall career success.

So, whether you’re a fresh-grad developer or a seasoned one, having well-developed soft skills is necessary. We’ve listed eight essential soft skills for developers to help you improve your professional career.

#1. Analytical Problem Solving

Analytical problem-solving skills are fundamental soft skills for developers, as you will encounter complex technical challenges regularly. This skill helps you break down intricate problems into smaller, more manageable tasks.

Managing your problems helps you quickly identify patterns, root causes, and potential solutions. This skill enables you to navigate through coding errors, optimize algorithms, and design efficient software architectures.

To grow analytics problem-solving skills, experiences play crucial roles. You can engage in activities like participating in coding competitions, solving algorithm puzzles, practicing systematic techniques, or discussing cases with experts.

Collaborating with peers on challenging projects and seeking mentorship from experienced developers give valuable knowledge and perspectives. So, the key is to gain insights and enrich your experience.

#2. Attention to Detail

Minor errors or oversights in code can lead to significant issues, such as software bugs or security vulnerabilities. That’s why attention to detail is necessary to ensure accuracy. Besides, this skill enhances the reliability and maintainability of your code. 

When you review code and documentation meticulously, you can catch and rectify errors before they impact the functionality of your software. You can avoid unnecessary mistakes and build credibility as a developer.

To cultivate attention to detail, you can adopt practices such as code reviews and writing comprehensive unit tests. You’re also allowed to utilize code analysis tools to identify potential issues. Using tech helps you be more efficient while keeping your work perfect.

#3. Effective Time Management

As developers, you work with deadlines. What’s more challenging is that you work in a fast-paced working environment. You’ll easily get stressed and behind deadlines without proper time management skills.

Consider practicing prioritizing your tasks to meet project deadlines. Also, effective time management during work hours helps you balance multiple tasks and maintain productivity. Most importantly, you can avoid procrastination and deliver high-quality work timely. 

You can improve time management skills using productivity techniques such as performing deep work, creating prioritized to-do lists and setting realistic goals and deadlines. Use project management tools like Kanban boards or task trackers to effectively organize their work and track progress.

#4. Clear Communication

As a developer, you will discuss projects, technical concepts, and problems with your teammates. You may also need to present your ideas and concepts to clients and stakeholders. If you can’t communicate effectively, it may lead to miscommunication and misinterpretation. 

Understandably, developing communication skills is challenging. However, you can improve this skill by practicing active listening and using plain language to explain complex concepts. 

Break down your ideas or concepts so that others easily understand your messages. You can provide concise and coherent explanations in meetings, emails, and documentation. 

In addition, consider seeking feedback from your colleagues. If possible, try participating in communication workshops or training programs to refine your communication skills and build rapport with your teammates.

#5. Collaborative Teamwork

You’ll often find group projects that require you to communicate with teammates. For example, in collaborative coding, you will work with work partners, app designers, product managers, testers, and other stakeholders. 

When a collaboration project occurs, make sure you respect others’ opinions even though they may be against your ideas. Show mutual support and consider putting away your personal feelings to achieve greater job satisfaction and project success.

To improve your collaborative teamwork skills, try to actively participate in team meetings, contribute ideas and insights, and respect the opinions of your teammates. With good relationships with your colleagues, you can feel a sense of belonging in the office.

#6. Critical Thinking

Developing critical thinking can take time and vary differently among people. This skill is crucial for developers to evaluate and analyze complex problems. Along with that, critical thinking is also helpful for you to assess different solutions and make informed decisions.

Acts like questioning assumptions, examining evidence, and considering alternative perspectives are parts of critical thinking. These acts will guide you to make well-reasoned conclusions and mitigate issues.

You can engage in code review sessions, brainstorming discussions, and problem-solving workshops with your peers. You can also cultivate a habit of asking probing questions and seeking diverse viewpoints to enhance your analytical reasoning abilities.

#7. Data Security Awareness

Data breaches and cyber threats are prevalent today, so building security awareness is essential for developers. This skill allows you to understand and mitigate risks related to protecting sensitive information within software systems. 

Online security is important in safeguarding user data and maintaining the integrity and confidentiality of systems. You can implement appropriate security measures When you know common security vulnerabilities, such as injection attacks, cross-site scripting, and insecure authentication mechanisms.

Additionally, staying informed about industry best practices, emerging security threats, and regulatory requirements helps you address security concerns in software projects. Training programs, security workshops, and certifications in cybersecurity can also equip you with security-related knowledge and skills.

#8. Ethical Conduct

Ethical conduct refers to upholding integrity, honesty, and responsibility in your professional practices and interactions. Meanwhile, developers often face ethical dilemmas related to issues such as user privacy, data ownership, and algorithmic bias. 

Adhering to ethical principles and values helps you ensure that your decisions and actions prioritize the well-being and rights of users, stakeholders, and society. But what can be included in ethical conduct?

Typically, it involves considering the potential impacts of technology on individuals and communities. Moreover, it means respecting diversity and inclusivity, as well as promoting transparency and accountability in software development processes. 

Engaging in ethical discussions and debates is one of the best ways to grow this skill. You can seek guidance from professionals, ethical frameworks, and codes of conduct while reflecting on the ethical implications of your work.

Conclusion

Writing code isn’t the only job of developers. Even though you’ll spend a lot of time in front of computers, you’ll still need to communicate with others and yourself. Understanding how to behave really does matter for your career success.

In conclusion, soft skills for developers are essential to thrive in the ever-changing and collaborative field of software development. From problem-solving to ethical behavior, each skill plays a vital role in working effectively, communicating clearly, and ensuring project success.

Andre Oentoro is the founder of Breadnbeyond, an award-winning explainer video company. He helps businesses increase conversion rates, close more sales, and get positive ROI from explainer videos (in that order).