Burnout is becoming an increasingly prevalent problem, especially in a field as fast-paced as software development. A programming career comes with very high demands, so most developers face it at least once in their career. Burnout is not something that happens overnight. It builds up quietly in an individual until, at some point, the pressure becomes unbearable.
Most times It’s easy to think that when you’re working remotely, you can’t get burned out. You work from home, so how could you feel the same way as people who have a hectic commute, noisy, distraction-filled office, and managers breathing down your neck?
However, with the lines between work and home life blurred together, it’s more important than ever to protect yourself from work burnout and especially while undertaking a remote software developer job. If this sounds familiar to you, continue reading to discover how to deal with burnout and prevent it.
Recognizing Symptoms of Burnout in Remote Software Developers
Burnout is a state of mental and physical exhaustion caused by overworking or extreme stress. It can have several causes, mostly stemming from a lack of proper self-care. Healthy lifestyle habits and taking good care of the body can help reduce the mental fatigue that many programmers and software developers experience.
Work from home burnout can affect various life aspects, including family, health, relationships, etc. It is crucial to spot these symptoms early enough and take all necessary recovery measures. Here are some of the key symptoms:
Lack of Motivation and Passion for Coding
Most developers usually take up a software development career because they enjoy programming. However, developers experiencing burnout view their jobs as increasingly stressful and frustrating. When the initial passion begins to fade and you dread logging on to your computer, opening your IDE, or text editor, you may be starting to burn out. This is a very common developer burnout symptom, and most times, it is the first sign of burnout.
Mental or Physical Fatigue
Working long hours continuously every day in front of a computer can be detrimental to health. It can cause muscle pain, back problems, or headaches, all of which get worse with anxiety and stress. When you feel constantly drained and lack the energy to code or even engage in other regular activities, it may be a sign of physical or mental exhaustion and burnout at its onset. Also, if you find yourself getting ill with colds and flu more often than usual, it may be a sign that tiredness/stress has weakened your immune system.
Software developers often work alone, especially when it comes to remote work. Adversely, this can impact a programmer’s social life, thereby leaving them feeling detached from both work colleagues and personal relationships. As a developer, you may feel out of your depth, overwhelmed and exhausted by your job but unable to reach out to anyone. This can lead to more feelings of self-doubt causing you to further distance yourself from other people. Social isolation translates into loneliness, which can aggravate burnout.
Reduced Work Performance
Remote software developer jobs can be intensive and highly cognitive, thereby, draining your mental battery. Working on debugging and solving a task requires a lot of critical thinking and sometimes your mind is pushed to its limit for hours spanning into weeks and months. This is fine, up to a point, but again if you’re always too exhausted to think straight or enjoy other activities asides from performing your daily work tasks, you may be approaching burnout.
Also, missing deadlines or targets that you previously used to fulfill or taking longer than usual to complete relatively simple tasks that involve familiar technologies may be a sign of burnout. When you’re unmotivated, you’re more likely to procrastinate and deliver sub-standard work.
Poor programming culture and changing habits
Having a remote software developer job can be quite demanding because it requires you to solve complex problems daily. When developers fail to manage tasks efficiently or carefully consider technical debts, eventually, issues would arise and may require twice as much time to fix. This can cause increased stress levels and manifest to burnout.
7 Tips to Prevent Burnout While Working in a Remote Software Developer Job
Knowing the signs and symptoms is critical to identify when you or a colleague might be at risk of burnout. Half the trick of preventing developer burnout symptoms is taking action and knowing when to stop. It’s knowing when to put your to-do list away, shut the laptop and come back to it tomorrow. Remember it’s okay to give yourself a break. More importantly, it’s vital, for the sake of your mental health. These 7 easy tips will help you protect your passion for coding, be more productive, and avoid burnout:
1. Establish and Maintain a Routine
As a remote software developer, you must understand your non-negotiables. It can be tough to distinguish between work and non-work time, thus, creating schedules for individual tasks and sticking to them would go a long way to balance out both work and personal activities. Organizing your workflow can also help prevent you from getting overwhelmed by multiple tasks. Ensure to set up realistic goals for each day and week. It’s absolutely important to have a hard stop. There will always be work to be done and you have to come to terms with the fact that it’s not possible to finish it all in one go. If you try, you might develop work from home burnout.
2. Set Clear Boundaries
One of the greatest challenges of working remotely in a software developer job is the almost extreme flexibility that comes with it, as this can turn out to be too much pliancy over where work ends and life begins. When you’re the sole proprietor of your time and work hours, you equally have to be more proactive about sticking to priorities and setting boundaries. At this point, finding a rhythm can come in handy. For different people, this could pass off as taking out some time to reflect and celebrate progress while planning, scheduling deliberate non-work time in between tasks, etc.
It is also important to note that temptations to take on new projects may arise, especially if they look interesting, pay well, or could advance your career. But if you’re already swamped, you’re doing no one any favors by accepting more work. Indeed remote software developer jobs offer flexibility, and you need to truly appreciate the work-life balance that comes with it.
3. Participate in physical activity and wellness
Regular physical activities can help you better deal with stress. It is also a great way to keep your mind busy and off work. Getting enough sleep restores well-being and it’s directly linked to productivity. A healthy mind and body won’t get burned out as easily and you’re almost guaranteed to perform better than you would if you neglect these things. Throughout the day, try to get as much sunlight as possible. You can consider working near a window and trying to get outside to stretch your legs every day. Even by just walking around your block or garden, you will actually gain time by coming back feeling more refreshed and therefore being more effective.
4. Take regular breaks
Sitting 8-10 hours throughout the day in front of the computer without any break won’t help you in being productive. Use the little moments of free time throughout the day to your advantage by engaging in activities – do some jumping jacks, a walk outside, or meditate. Making time for multiple scheduled breaks from coding during the day is essential to increase productivity and reduce stress levels. Planning these breaks will help you develop the discipline to actually sign off when the time comes. Taking a regular break can do wonders in coding especially when you are indulged in debugging a project. Even if your daily routine is working well for you, don’t forget to take longer vacations (without your computer!) to really destress and get away from programming for a while.
5. Develop an off-screen hobby
Hobbies are a great way for unwinding down. It is crucial to have a hobby that allows you to unwind at the end of the day; such as reading, playing games, watching anime or movies, etc, All of this helps to relieve the daily stress, but specifically, it is even more rewarding to pick up a few off-screen hobbies. These hobbies are not only easy on your eyes but are also quite relaxing. What’s more, is that by getting away from your laptop or phone you also eliminate the accidental work quickies of checking and responding to emails, and a few hours later you’re practically working on your day off or while taking a break.
6. Practice healthy habits
Applying healthy living habits helps with both preventing burnout and alleviating it. If you’re able to eat well and get enough sleep and exercise, you’ll be able to start each day fresh enough to tackle your daily tasks even during the hectic periods. When you feel like you’re already burning out, you can do a lot to maintain stability by reestablishing a healthy sleep cycle and taking short exercise breaks during your work. Also, if you expect too much from yourself and always want to give 110%, you’re setting yourself up for dissatisfaction. Don’t beat yourself up if you perform a little less optimally on certain days. Find time to get back on track and generally maintain the overall high quality of your work.
7. Make time for human interaction
Burnout is always a tough situation. A challenging aspect of remote work is the lack of sufficient human contact to provide a morale boost during difficult periods. When you’re in work mode, it’s easy to forget to set time aside for friends and family. To avoid this, try to schedule social events ahead of time as they will help you disconnect from work and add more meaning to your life. It is often very easy to underestimate how much this helps. The most helpful person to speak to or engage with during such burnout periods will be different depending on your situation. Some ideas you can try is to talk to your manager, colleagues, non-work friends, or family.
It is also important to try and cultivate friendships outside your job (and even outside the industry as a whole) if you don’t already. One of the most helpful things for burnout is a change of context to distract you from your professional life’s fatigue, and healthy social time with friends is unbeatable in terms of grounding you in the bigger picture.
Now that you know more about remote software developer burnout, you should strive to be more mindful about your well-being at work, and keep an eye out for potential burnout symptoms. Generally establishing healthy routines and boundaries, along with prioritizing your wellness, health, and both personal and professional relationships, you’ll learn to manage and overcome burnout which will help you become happier and more productive in your remote software developer job.
Essentially, find a job you enjoy doing at a company that respects you. If you enjoy your work and get a sense of accomplishment out of it, even longer working hours become less of a problem. With platforms like turing.com, you’ll truly enjoy remote work and all its benefits (flexible schedule, no commuting, ability to work from anywhere, and more) without the downside. Turing ensures the well-being of remote software developers is taken seriously. From regular engagement sessions to fun challenges, competitions, hackathons, and more. Having a Turing job allows you to gain sufficient work-life balance, engage in non-work activities, rest, and receive high compensation. If you want to be considered for a remote software developer job to enjoy these benefits, sign up for Turing jobs!
Joy is a professional content writer with experience developing meaningful, well-articulated content across various verticals including B2B, B2C, website content, social media, and more. She is an avid learner and a technology enthusiast with interests spanning across books, environment, and arts.
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