Experiencing Developer Burnout? Here Are 8 Ways to Stay Motivated

As a developer, you have a stimulating job: building complex systems, solving challenging problems, helping bring ideas to life. But even the most exciting jobs can feel monotonous and discouraging on occasion—and one of those occasions is a recession. 

If you’re feeling worn down or unmotivated, don’t worry. You’re not lazy, you’re not having a crisis, and you don’t need to switch careers. You just need to find new ways to break up your routine and stay motivated. Here are 8 ideas.

     1. Keep learning

It’s easy to get stuck in the same old routine, especially if you’re working on a certain type of project for a long time. Learning new things helps break up the monotony, plus it gives you a new edge you can bring into your work.

Are you a front-end developer who’s curious about the skills required for back-end? Would you like to learn more about design principles? Maybe you’ve always wanted to build an app? Now is the time to learn, then put your newfound knowledge into practice. 

     2. Take breaks and vacations

Short breaks throughout the workday can increase productivity and help you stay motivated for longer. So whether it’s a walk, a quick chore, or a dance break, find active ways to break up the work day.

If you feel like the whole month has been one long, monotonous work day, it may be time for a getaway. If money is tight, there’s no need to go on a grand tour of Europe: just head to the coast or the woods for a weekend. Go camping, stay with a friend, or rent an Airbnb. After your vacation, you’ll be ready to dive back in with renewed energy and motivation.

     3. Find other ways to be creative

Being creative in one area helps open up your mind in other areas. For example, taking a break from a challenging development project to sketch for a few minutes may help you see the problem with fresh eyes. 

Research shows that crafting and creating art actually helps with anxiety, depression, and stress. So take up a pencil, paintbrush, pottery kit, or scrapbook, and let your creative juices flow! Don’t stress about the final product; just enjoy yourself.

Not feeling artistic? Creative activities can include things like gardening, renovating, experimenting in the kitchen, or planning your next trip. Or, maybe you have a pet coding project you’d like to work on. The possibilities are endless.

     4. Stay active

Mental health is closely tied to physical health, and staying active will help keep you energized and motivated no matter what you’re working on. Going for a walk, run, or bike ride first thing in the morning can set your mood for the whole day, and exercising daily helps with your sleep patterns, which can throw off your motivation if they become irregular.

     5. Find your flow time

When are you typically most productive? Early morning? Just before lunch? Evening? Most people have certain times of day—often called flow times—when they feel most alert and motivated. Maximizing that time can help you stay driven and get more done. For example, you might try scheduling especially challenging work for that time.

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     6. Say no

Burnout is a leading killer of motivation, especially for developers. And the fastest way to burn out is by taking on more than you can handle. While you may not always have the option of saying no at work, you can set boundaries and prioritize. Try not to take on more than you know you can handle, whether that’s a new client, a share of your coworker’s load, or a lightning-fast deadline. 

     7. Join a community

Joining a community of developers can help remind you why you chose this field in the first place: something that’s easy to lose sight of as the work piles up and you find yourself losing steam. GitHub and Stack Overflow are just a couple examples of online communities for developers—you may want to shop around until you find your people.

     8. Find what motivates you

Is it the thrill of solving a complex problem? The excitement of learning something new? Maybe it’s just sampling some new food on your lunch break. Find something that makes you excited to get out of bed every day, then make it a more regular part of your life.

Burnout can be a beast, but before you do something drastic like quitting your job and moving to a remote Tibetan monastery, give these tips a try. You may find they’re just what you need.

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