It doesn’t matter where you are or how you work – the threat of being burnt out by your job is very real. One day you’re happily hacking away at your IDE, and the next everything has lost its luster and you just lose all drive.
What’s worse, burnout can sometimes set in without warning, triggered by a variety of reasons. Thankfully, there are definite things you can do to avoid this scenario. And here are the five most important tips for this:
Setting Clear Goals
Goal-setting is a very important part of any kind of work. Working without well-defined goals leads to exhaustion faster, simply because the person doing the tasks sees no clear end in sight. When you work just for work’s sake, over time it begins to feel like a hamster wheel of chores just waiting to greet you every day.
Aside from setting work-related goals, it’s also important to look at the goal of this work. For example, you can set a simple “launch the beta at the end of the month” as your goal, but you can also look at the bigger picture.
If what you’re working on is a piece of a bigger project, for example, you can instead count down to that project’s completion. Alternatively, you can look at the effects of your work when setting your goals, such as “ensure a clean, well-organized codebase for future developers”.
Doing these serves to greatly improve both efficiency and morale, by giving you an accurate picture of the work, what needs to be done, and how much is left to be done. If you can pace yourself this way, it’s much less likely for you to suffer the effects of burnout.
It’s not the deep, productive work that often gets a person burnt out. Instead, it’s the shallow repetitive work that, while equally important, often get people calling for a time out.
The definition of “shallow repetitive work” can change from industry to industry. As an example, many people consider crunching away at spreadsheets to generate reports a type of shallow work. The data these tasks produce serve as the foundation of bigger decisions, but simply put, there’s nothing much to enjoy about copy-pasting formula after formula and adjusting graph after graph.
In these cases, the best course of action is to avoid doing these repetitive tasks at all by leveraging automation. Automation can be done through technology (such as advanced formula, macros, and VBA for spreadsheets) or through outsourcing the process.
In the world of software, hunting for bugs can be considered “shallow repetitive work”. Repeatedly going through smoke tests can be draining, especially when you need to do it within a set deadline. Thankfully, there are several solutions to outsource software QA tests so that it can be done faster, while maintaining accuracy in the findings.
Such software testing services can be easily fitted into any development workflow, making them a valuable asset in both accelerating the process and reducing burnout for those in the trenches.
Managing Your Workflow
Software developers are well-known for being very organized with their workflow. However, there’s more to the process than following steps, or partaking in scrum meetings.
You also need to manage your individual workflow by setting up priority lists and taking care of time management. These are especially important skills in crunch time scenarios, when work piles up higher as deadlines draw near — the perfect scenario for a burn out.
It would also help greatly to set up personal goals. While work is simply work for many, understanding how your personal motivations tie up with your daily tasks can help give you that much-needed mental and emotional boost in critical moments.
Taking a Break
This is by far the most important tip that most people out there, especially the workaholics, fail to follow. For many, taking a break is not an option simply because they fear it will slow down the development of the project.
But taking a break every now and then does wonders to refresh the mind and prevent burnout and breakdown. It also helps with peace of mind if you know that other parts of your development pipeline are still at work even when you’re resting, such as the case when you outsource to software testing services.
Talking It Out
At the very least, cultivate a strong culture of communication with your colleagues so that you can air out any issues you may be having, before they contribute to your burnout. Most of all burnout cases can be prevented if you have someone to share the issue with. Ideally, those who hear your problems can help offer solutions. At the very least, they can lend a sympathetic ear, which also helps give a psychological boost.
Put all these together, and you can keep burnout at bay — and with that, you can shine even brighter in your tasks!