A good developer takes a break before they get burned out. When a developer gets burned out, it takes them longer to recover than taking periodic breaks.

Taking a break is very important to a developer. It’s one of the reasons that I took a break from blogging for a few days. I was starting to get burned out writing blog articles every day, so I’m cutting back to around one a week.

The key to taking the breaks at the right time is knowing the symptoms of getting burned out.

A few of the symptoms I get when I have a burnout pending are as follows:

  • High Anxiety
  • Tired
  • Hard time getting to sleep
  • Lack of hunger
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • De-motivation

My number one sign that I need a break is anxiety. When I start to get anxious, I have to take a break. Sometimes I’m lucky and an hour break will cut it, but other times I need to take the rest of the day off.

The closer I get to being burned out, the less productive I am and the more time I need to take on a break to recover.

Fairly recently, I got entirely burned out. It took me 2 entire weekends to recover, with a rather unproductive week in between the 2 weekends. I got burned out because I took on too much at once. I had NYU, Rietta, a new workout program, a blog that I was committed to doing daily blog posts for, and trying to maintain a social life.

With the couple day break from blogging and the break from working out today, I’m finally feeling fairly recharged.

A few of the things that I like to do when taking a break from development is:

  • Unplug from technology: turn off the computer and do anything that doesn’t include staring at a screen.
  • Going out with friends: whether it’s gaming or having a few beers (drink responsibly), just going out and socializing can help, so long as you’re not an extreme introvert
  • Napping: Sometimes you get extra burned out simply because you’re tired
  • Get Active: In my most recent case, activity definitely wasn’t the issue, but sometimes going for a walk, run, or workout can really take the mind off of the mental fatigue and assist in a full burnout recovery.
  • Meditation: Sometimes meditation can really help some people. I’m a big fan of listening to binaural beats and zoning out for a little bit.
  • Code on a personal project: Sometimes the stress of the project is getting to you, and you need to positively reinforce code in general, with an easy going personal project.
  • Do something you enjoy: Doing something you enjoy is almost guaranteed to take your mind off of your burnout and get you recharged.
  • Talk to somebody: If a burnout has been going on for an extended period of time, it could be a sign of depression. At some point, it makes sense to talk to somebody, whether it be friends/family or a professional.

Overall, the end game is to never get into a full burnout state. My hope is that you can utilize some of the tricks to catch a pending burnout, and tricks to recover/recharge.