Burning Out

  • Comments posted to this topic are about the item Burning Out

  • Just finished two intense projects running in parallel over 18 months with lots of new (and interesting) features plus evil (is there another kind?) data migration. My brain is drained. I'm avoiding do much for a little while. Sorry.

    At this point I know I've got to get my two brain cells to re-group...

  • Burnout can equally occur if one is not busy enough and does not feel useful.

    Ive been in both situations. Ive done the consultancy thing and although I learned more there than any other job since, it was always a baptism of fire, jump in, paid by the hour so expected to know everything, if you dont, work late until you figure it out. I couldn't keep that up long term, perhaps thats just a reflection of my personality.

    Ive had other jobs since where the workload is pretty light in comparison. Not too many databases, schedules are not so tight, and days are easy. Life is prioritized over work in a big way, which is a massive plus. Its great for a time but after a while I felt like I wasn't contributing enough. I've been back to my managers a number of times to get more responsibilities allocated and often i was given stuff just to "keep me busy" as it was put.

    I burnt out big time late last year in this role too, I felt i was only doing busy work to keep me from being idle but not work of real value. This was worse than being too busy and overworked. I was anxious all the time, i was not sleeping, i was not eating, my health suffered. I was not present when at home so my family suffered.


    • This reply was modified 5 years, 2 months ago by  winston Smith.
  • Over 42 yeas in IT I worked in shops from four to one hundred thirty people.  The largest contributor to individual 'burn-out' was the advent of non-technical 'project managers' in the larger organizations who were supposed to handle the interface to other parts of companies and to set expectations on delivery and quality of our work.  Between the pressure of unrealistic goals and 'delivery at the expense of quality', we were under ongoing pressure to get new things out the door while constantly dealing with defects which took time but were never fixed due to timidity on project manager's part to implement fixes to existing systems.  This created an ever-increasing workload and distraction as problems were added to problems.   Unfortunately, the folks who were the best at all aspects of IT tended to move on to other positions and those who were not the best became more and more frustrated.  So both the satisfaction of delivery quality and the satisfaction of repairing problems were lost for all.

    Disaster Recovery = Backup ( Backup ( Your Backup ) )

  • In the early stage of developing on a new project, when I'm learning and creating, I don't mind working late and putting in more hours. In fact, I get a sense of euphoria from it; sort of like returning from the gym after putting in a long exercise. However, working off hours on a production issue, especially on occasions where I wasn't expecting to fire up the PC after getting home, that can be a drag.

    "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Instead, seek what they sought." - Matsuo Basho

  • Our local large medical group has had signs posted for the past two years that they are going through modifications to their systems and asking for consideration.  During this week's visit the nurses were having to ask for and re-enter lots of our history and data which was apparently missing from their records and not available.   The doctor involved with us has announced that he is moving on to another organization and will be too far away to continue our care.  Apparently IT issues can contribute to job burn-out even outside our IT organizations.

    • This reply was modified 5 years, 2 months ago by  skeleton567.

    Disaster Recovery = Backup ( Backup ( Your Backup ) )

  • Here are some of my thoughts here:

    * Burnout is for real and needs to be actively managed - most people can do this as it is a learnable skill and not a biological phenomenon.

    * Work-to-Live vs Live-to-Work - a colleague from another country told me this in response. Most people say we work to live implying that our health and well-being are priority to getting more work done. Yet I like to couple that with "live to work" because it helps to be intrinsically driven to do your work. With all the hours we clock during our lives at work, assuming that the paycheck is all the same, then why would you voluntarily take a role which you are not crazy about?

    * The work will never be finished. It is like playing pinball - if you do well you earn the right to keep playing. Young people often need to learn this as they age and have more responsibilities outside of work. Older people who don't learn this lesson end up having extra hardship outside of their work.

    * Since people in our positions are relatively high paid we are expected to put in hours. You're not going to make 100k+ by only working 37.5 hours a week.

    * It is all about balance. Each of us must make the decision of where that lies for them. There is no single right answer

  • I'm one who has a very long commute. However, I don't tend to work more than 40 hours a week. For more reasons than I know, everyone (developers, DBAs, etc.) are all hourly employees. And the State does not want to pay overtime. So, I don't tend to get burn out, due to overwork.

    However, I have had some burn out due to not being able to do anything. I know what has to happen, I know how to do it. But I've got to wait for someone else to do something, which I haven't the privilege to do. Sometimes, that means just sitting, doing nothing, until whoever is free to do what I can't due to my lack of privileges. That tends to leave me with the same feelings as burn out.

    Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.

  • Thanks for all the responses. What I would add here is that burning out isn't just hours. It isn't just overwork or long commutes or travel. It's a combination of things, but it's also attitude. Lean to control what you can, let go what you cannot, and differentiate between the two.

    Easy to say, hard to do, but take control of your career in some way. That might be learning to let go of things that you can't change.

  • Re: work-to-live v live-to-work

    Many other countries have driven people, they make advances, they do creative things. They learn that their knowledge and skill isn't necessarily related to hours put in. Certainly they work many hours at times, but they do often know that 60+hours a week isn't sustainable for most people, and it doesn't equate to better quality of anything. For the majority of people.

    Work-to-live also implies getting away from the stress/pressure/problems of work and spending time elsewhere.

    Live-to-work is often a symptom in the US (though other places) of placing more emphasis and value on work than the rest of life. Making a good living, or even a highly paid one seems to somehow equate to hours worked in the US as a rule, but that's not really something that makes sense. You can charge more by providing more value, not just providing more hours.

  • There is an old European joke that the French work to live, but the Germans live to work.  Jokes aside, you are absolutely right about letting work take over your life.  I think that especially true in IT and systems, where we get the best ideas and solutions when we aren't in front of our computers.

    I work on emergency services systems and I'm the key person for the products I work on; so I'm always on call for complete systems failures.  We haven't had one of those in quite a while, thank all that is good and pure!  The support team has my cell phone and only calls me when it's a real emergency.  I don't ever look at work email in non-work hours.  I trust the support team to accurately assess if they really need me or if it can wait for the next office hours.

    Having a team you can trust to call you if you really need to know and working with them to ensure that understand what it means is the most import way to get some control over your life.

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