According to Dr. Christina Maslach, burnout is “a syndrome of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and reduced personal fulfillment that can occur among individuals whose object of work is other people”. The work of developers and programmers lends itself quite well to this problem, given that they spend many hours a day in front of the computer solving complex problems, with which they can be very prone to “burning out”. Facing pressing deadlines, technical issues, errors and lofty goals can sometimes be very stressful…
Currently, there is the added factor of remote work, which has several benefits, but also presents greater opportunities for burnout, particularly when programmers tend to get sucked into their work and like to separate personal from professional time.
A study conducted in mid-2021 found that 83% of software developers felt burned out by their work, citing as the main reasons: increased workload (47%), an inefficient process (31%), and unclear goals and objectives (29%). 81% reported increased burnout due to the Covid -19 outbreak, also pointing to increased workload as a key factor.
Another survey found similar percentages: 82% of developers indicated they had experienced burnout in the last 6-8 months. In addition, 73% said that burnout was negatively affecting their productivity or personal life, and 57% that COVID-19 had made the situation worse. Furthermore, 77% indicated their management was unaware of their burnout or had not taken any action to help them manage it, and only 23% said their company had formally acknowledged burnout, as well as also other challenges, and had taken concrete measures such as additional days off and reasonable workloads, among others.
Detecting the signs
In reality, all of us have times when we are more tired or more anxious. The issue is when this begins to affect important areas of life such as family, friends, and other significant relationships, or to generate physical symptoms. In addition, people affected by burnout begin to disbelieve in their abilities. They may feel exhaustion, low motivation, and negative emotions regarding work.
Other signs of burnout can be procrastination or loss of focus, decline in typical job performance, difficulty getting started in the morning or starting new tasks, and sudden irritability. On a physical level, signs which may be present are:
- Trouble sleeping.
- Stomach aches or headaches.
These are some of the signs that indicate a person may be falling prey to burnout. And for programmers, it is key to detect them in time.
Tips for prevention
As a developer, you can take several actions to prevent burnout:
- Set daily work goals and focus on achieving them to feel accomplished.
- Take breaks and short rests regularly.
- Do small stretching routines during work breaks.
- Go outside and get some sun.
- Prioritize self-care. Outside of work hours, do activities that make you feel good (sports, readings, cultural workshops).
- Cut work at a certain time and turn off devices.
- Exercise regularly.
- Eat well.
- Get medical checkups from time to time.
- Pay attention to the furniture and other elements you use for work (find an ergonomic chair that ensures good posture, place the screen at a suitable height, etc.).
If you are a programmer and feel you could be going through a process like the one described above, it is vital that you encourage yourself to ask for help. It is also valuable to be able to count on a company that can provide you with support in these cases.