100 Days of Code: Day 82
100 Days of Code, Round 1
Goals For Today:
After 81 days of coding anywhere from 3-10 hours per day, with only two full days off, I finally remembered what “burnt out” feels like. I don’t mean the normal, “Ugh, I am tired and just not feeling it today.” No, what I am referring to is that feeling of “OK, I’ve had enough. I can’t do this anymore!”
Fortunately for me, I have experienced this a few other times, so I know firsthand what works for me to get past it. Since I have already completed my coding for the day (more on that in a bit), I figured I would share my technique for resetting and getting past the burn out. Now, this is what works for me but it may not necessarily work the exact same way for you. You need to be willing to listen to what your mind and body are telling you and adjust as you see fit.
Step 1. Think About Why You’re Feeling Burnt Out
If you’re feeling burnt out, there is a good chance you already know what you have been doing in the days/weeks leading up to feeling that way.
Maybe you’ve been working harder than usual at your job or you’ve been putting in more time and effort at the gym. It could be that you have spent a lot of time with other people and not enough time re-energizing on your own (yes, I am talking to you, fellow introverts).
If you aren’t sure why you’re feeling this way, you may need to take a few minutes to stop and think about what’s been going on in your life recently. Perhaps it’s not just one thing but a combination of several different things all weighing you down at one time.
My problem is I haven’t given myself enough time off from this challenge. You may recall that I took two days off this month. What you probably don’t realize is that I spent 10 hours coding on the days surrounding those days off, just so I wouldn’t feel bad about doing it. Even now, a small part of me feels like I have to justify wanting or needing a break, like there is something inherently wrong not working myself into the ground.
Step 2. What Are Your Immediate Options?
Now that you have pinpointed the reasons you’re feeling burnt out, it’s time to think about what you can immediately do to make a change. The ‘immediate’ part is important. The longer you wait to make a change, the more difficult it’s going to be. You will become even more burnt out and eventually you might even get to the point where you aren’t even looking for solutions anymore but instead are content with the idea of giving up completely.
You’ll cancel your membership at the gym and never go back. Or quit your job and drop out of school. Then you will have to move out of your house into the little cardboard box behind the dumpster at McD’s. Ok, that may be a little extreme, but you get the point.
So, what are your immediate options?
- If you’re burnt out from going to the gym, can you cut it down to going only a few times a week?
- If you’re working too many hours, can you talk to your boss about cutting back or having a coworker help out with some of your responsibilities?
For me, not coding was not an immediate option because I don’t want to fall behind and taking a spontaneous day off would likely have that effect. My best option for immediate change was to limit myself to the absolute bare minimum. That is 1 hour of coding every day. Then, with the time that I had remaining, I would start to plan out the rest of the challenge and work on some other things that need to be done this week. In that way, I am not wasting my time but rather moving my responsibilities around so I can take it easy now and really focus once I am feeling better.
Side note: I really enjoy planning, in case you didn’t already know. It helps me to clear my head and reduce my anxiety. For me, planning is something that is productive but also enjoyable, not just another source of stress. If you don’t enjoy planning, you might want to find something else that you do enjoy. Go clean out your inbox or work on the novel you’ve been putting off for months.
Step 3. Make The Changes & Re-Evaluate
Nothing will change if you change nothing. Now is the time to take action and make the changes that you need to make. This part can sometimes feel a little scary, especially if you’re stressed about falling behind. But remember, it’s better to take a step back now than to wait and burn to a crisp.
Once you make the changes, you may be surprised by how quickly you begin to feel better.
Earlier today, I set my timer for exactly 60 minutes and focused on React and Redux for that entire period. When the timer went off, I stopped and closed every tab that was open, just to make sure I wasn’t tempted to do more.
I’d be lying if I said I feel completely better already. I don’t. I still feel tired and frustrated and not at all ready to get back to my normal schedule. However, I do feel a little bit better. Just the act of giving myself a little bit of time to stop and breathe has helped tremendously.
So, does this mean that I’m going to get back to my normal schedule tomorrow? Nope. I’m listening to what my mind and body are telling me and I’m going to wait one more day. Tomorrow I will, once again, do the bare minimum, then re-evaluate where I’m at.
Step 4. Don’t Mistake Discomfort For Still Feeling Burnt Out
There comes a point in time, usually after a few days of taking it easy, that I have to start asking myself if I am still feeling burnt out or if I’m just uncomfortable with the thought of feeling that way again. I don’t like feeling like this. No one does. But I also don’t like the idea of giving up or doing only the bare minimum forever. It’s just not in my nature!
Because of this, I like to incorporate some sort of time limit or restriction whenever I put myself in time-out. In my experience, there has never been a time when I gave myself so much of a break that I was completely rejuvenated. In order for that to happen, I’d have to be willing to wait weeks or maybe even months before resuming my normal schedule. That’s not feasible.
In this instance, I have given myself two full days of doing the minimum before I get back to business. Like I said, I know I won’t be 100%, but my immediate solution can’t be a permanent one. To combat this, I am also going to enforce a 2 hour maximum on Saturday and Sunday (each day). That way I can give myself more time to recover without immediately burning out again.
That brings me to my last step…
Step 5. Don’t Stop Listening To Yourself
Sounds self-explanatory, right? This is probably the simplest step, but it’s also the one that I sometimes ignore, to my own detriment. I follow the first four steps and feel like I am back in the swing of things when BAM! there I am again, completely burnt out and wondering where it all went wrong. At some point, I stopped listening to myself and started ignoring what was going on.
So, yeah… Don’t do that.