I think this happens to all of us. The bar is set high, so you give up your time. You don’t have to be a developer to experience this. Combating burnout can take time, but it’s also a skill you need to learn. You can learn when you’re starting to take a dive into the depths of burnout and hopefully catch yourself before it happens.

Independent? Find Someone to Work With

I’m an independent developer. That means I’m working from home alone the majority of my day. This makes me highly productive with a significant drop in distractions, but you’re also sacrificing the interactions you would have with coworkers. Things like going out to lunch every day, helping each other solve problems, and brainstorming together.

I’ve been working on FeedForward.io lately to combat this feeling. We’re curating thought provoking information together so that we can discuss it and learn from each other. Sites like Hacker News can provide an incredible amount of important criticism, but often it’s presented in a manner that makes it feel like a battleground rather than constructive criticism. Starting a podcast to discuss our favorite article(s) each week is another thing that has helped immensely. It’s essentially a digital mastermind group:

A small club of like-minded advanced talents who meet periodically for mutual brainstorming/accountability sessions.

We were informally doing this bi-weekly meeting for dinner to discuss random topics and philosophies. After trading a bunch of emails and needing to do something new, I sat down one night and built the first version of FeedForward.io. So far it’s turned out better than I could have planned. If you’d like to get involved, please check it out and then email me.

Work On Something New Just For Fun

Building FeedForward.io has been immensely fun, but I’ve also been cleaning up and working on some gems that I maintain on Github. I don’t need any new functionality on these, but I’m sure that improving them will help other people.

I actually started most of these projects believing that I probably wouldn’t learn anything from them and I was wrong each time. There are always challenges you will come across and those are the interesting things. Those will rejuvenate you.

SimpleCalendar started out as a me being annoyed with the other calendar gems out there. I just wanted something simple, so I built it. It’s been interesting to work on, not because it’s a calendar, but because I’m learning how to better document and write more flexible libraries for other people to use. I recently released a new version that works with not only ActiveRecord, but Mongoid, any other ORM, or just plain Ruby classes because of a feature request.

It was fun because I am helping people directly. Knowing I’m helping people is something that can quickly revive my waining motivation. It can be something as simple as a 15 minute thing and I’ll feel instantly refreshed.

Simply Getting Away For A Bit

This tactic I’m a bit on the fence about. If you can truly escape for a few days, then it can be immensely helpful to do just that. On the other hand, chances are if you’re feeling burnt out or stressed because of lots of work, it’s just putting off the problem. In the end, leaving for a couple days might just be making you worry and get further behind.

Shorter breaks, however, I always find helpful. Take a walk for at least half an hour. Take a drive or go out to dinner somewhere. You can go with friends, but going alone I find even more helpful. I have no choice but to think and be retrospective about what’s causing stress. Use that time to figure out what’s the problem and potential solutions. If your work is flexible, try working from a different coffee shop than you’re used to. Work from the library. You need a change of location sometimes to revert your mindset.


Burn out sucks, but it’s bound to happen. Make sure you’ve got some tricks up your sleeve for combating burnout. You can’t accomplish anything if you can’t work.

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