Avoiding Burnout in a Tech Role

Avoiding Burnout in a Tech Role

On the list of occupational hazards for IT professionals, burnout often occupies the top rung. Working long and/or odd hours is something of a badge of honor in tech, and the repetitive nature of many roles can come to make you resent what you once loved. Here are some thoughts on avoiding – or dealing with – burnout in a tech job.

See burnout coming. Have simple tasks become harder? Do you find yourself short-tempered with clients or co-workers? Outside of work, have your sleeping or eating habits changed for the worse? These are all potential signs of burnout, and as with most things, the sooner you recognize the problem, the better.

Take a step back. A look at the bigger picture can help to change your perspective. Are you in the first year of a new job, or deep into a major project that has a finish line? Know that there’s a next step and remember your ‘why.’ There are reasons you chose this field. Your current situation will change, but those reasons will still be there. Step out of the weeds and consider your longer view.

Take care of yourself. As noted, long hours are a constant state of affairs in the tech world. But if you’re subsisting on work alone, and thinking about it even when you’re not working, you’re a prime candidate for burnout. Take time to eat right, exercise and do things you know are good for your physical and mental well-being.

Treat yourself. Every day. Find a way to reward yourself for another good day’s work. It doesn’t have to be anything big, but you need to consciously block out time to make sure it happens. This can be as simple as enjoying a favorite meal or making time to read.

Keep learning. Repetitive drudgery is a key factor in burnout, and if you feel like you’re jumping on the same hamster wheel every single day, it’s very difficult to stay motivated. Continue to sharpen your professional axe … work on that next certification or teach yourself a new skill. Focusing on a new challenge will alleviate that same-old, same-old feeling.

Stay connected. Tech roles have always been largely individual pursuits. Add to that the enforced isolation of the pandemic and you have a recipe for burnout. We all need our tribes, whether family, friends, co-workers or all of the above. Make yourself available to your loved ones, and make the effort to stay connected with the people you can’t see in person. A Zoom meeting is better than no meeting at all.

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