Coding/Learning Burnout

So about three months ago at this point I was blasting along learning Javascript, I started delving into Node and Express, I was considering starting to learn Python and either React or Vue, I was also learning to use the SquareSpace CMS for some extra income. And then I hit this wall. It wasn’t even anything specific that I encountered, like I didn’t face a bout of impostor syndrome, I just completely lost my mojo. I haven’t coded anything meaningfull since, which is really terrible feeling since I’ve been coding stuff for over a decade now.

Now I’ll think to myself “Okay you HAVE to work on something today, even if it’s a little something”. I’ll pop on codewars and grab some kata, or I’ll open up a unfinished project in my code editor, or I’ll come here to the forum, anything to get the mental juices flowing but it’s like a desert up there. What was once a fertile land of motivation and ideas is now a baron wasteland (dramatic no?) :laughing:

Seriously though, it’s bizarre. I love coding and I love learning. Maybe I just overloaded my brain? Or maybe I ran out of years of built up steam? Which is kind of a scary thought.

So my question to you lovely folk out there, is have you ever faced a burnout like this? And if so, what did you do to overcome it? And how do you keep from burning out again?

Right now I’ve taken up my old hobby of knitting to give my mind something completely different to grind on and I’m making leaps and bounds in what I can do with it. But any and all advice would be very much appreciated.

I think it’s normal. Sometimes you just need a break. I would suggest subscribing to various things like Medium authors that post projects, CodePen Spark…things like that so you have inspiration coming. You’ll come back to it if you want to, and those things will sit in your brain. I also keep lists of things I want to try. Collect code snippets, links to libraries and such that people use to do those things. then when I get a bug to try it, I devour it all at once.

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Sounds a bit like your brain needs a break from coding. Or from learning. Or from working overtime. Or from all of that.
Knitting sounds like a good solution for now.

If you want to find out if you still motivated to learn you could take lessons on other subjects that are not coding, but connected to it, like UX, e-commerce, design. Or a new subject that your are interested in. Try EdX for example.

If you can’t find any motivation to learn, than maybe it’s best if you stop doing it for a while. Keep hitting, try walking, gardening, or other things in which you use your body while giving your brain a holiday and time to recover.

The motivation will come back after a while, mine did. I’ve been switching subjects for more reasons, but overload with learning new stuff and loss of motivation was one of them.

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It’s totally normal when you get burned out while coding. Also when I was at work, I need some rest for example talking with my coworkers and drink some tea/coffee.

When I got holiday, I like to go somewhere, go to the park or buy some food (because everyone likes food :smile_cat: )

Once a week I would go to have some massage. Because sitting 40 hours a week it’s too bad for your health.

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Thanks guys for the encouragement! I think you’re all right with it being a brain overload. I love the idea of checking out Medium and CodePen Spark for new inspirations, thank you @Tirjasdyn!

@Joke great suggestion about shifting to a different but still in the same area subjects and I personally LOVE gardening (I’m super excited for warmer weather so I can start growing stuff).

@irhamputra yeah you’re absolutely right about the balance or work and breaks and food hahaha. Which I totally wasn’t doing all that much (and definitely might have contributed to the overload :sweat_smile:).

Thanks again guys, it’s comforting to know that burnout is pretty normal and I’m on the right track for getting back into things. I think when I do, I’ll make it a point to pace myself better!

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Burnout is so bothersome! It can happen when you overwork yourself on something so intensely. Knitting’s a good break, I switch between coding, crocheting, video games, and languages, but sometimes I still have a few weeks where I don’t make any progress in anything :laughing:

If you want to maintain a consistent habit, you can probably try the pomodoro technique. You dedicate 25 or 45 minutes to focus on a specific task (a code challenge/ a project/ reading documentation or articles, etc). You block yourself off from all distractions as best as you can. After your work time is up, you take a short break, like 10 or 15 minutes. For the break you step away from the computer/work.

The point of the pomodoro is to sorta force yourself to work, even if unmotivated, but only for a short time. The timer helps to put a different end goal towards your productivity. Instead of “I have to work on my project”, it becomes “I only have to code for my project for 45 minutes”.

I do this to help manage my productivity fatigue.

(I sadly can’t link yet) I recommend the youtuber Thomas Frank (aka CollegeInfoGeek). He has great videos about productivity and organization, including a few about burnout.

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Honestly, resting and taking a break is not wasted time. It gives your brain time to process all the stuff you fed to it, and somehow organize it and make it see the big picture.

And SLEEP! Don’t forget sleep!

I see some of the new learners here just going 100mph every waking second of their life. If they’re not coding, they’re listening to podcasts. If they’re not listening to podcasts, they’re reading. If not reading, watching some Udemy or Youtube video. Cycle and repeat. Oh my goodness.

And doing the whole thing scattershot! This and that technology, this and that language, this and that software… All at the same time!.. you’re gonna and burn out - guaranteed.

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There is a reason for that? you have a deadline or something similar?

I ask, because set the default mode to crunch can be problematic[0][1].

Cheers and happy coding :slight_smile:


[0] How to avoid burn out

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63UOLVP4dYk

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About one and half months ago I had the same kinda burnout too; I felt terrible at the beginning and tried to fight it. But turns out the best remedy was just listen to myself. Don’t wanna code anymore? Fine, don’t do it then. Don’t want to think about anything that was even remotely close to coding? No biggie, just don’t. Not making any progress? So what? Not learning that new thing everyone is talking about? Who cares?

If you’ve been working hard in the past few months, odds are that you worked too hard and the burnout is your brain’s cry for help. In my case, the burnout occurred after 10 months of very intensive coding study. I was completely spent. But after not thinking about coding at all for about two weeks, everything just went back to normal again. I got back to blasting through tutorials and building things just the way I did before the burnout.

So my advice is to just let it happen. The burnout will eventually go away once you give your mind the break it needs and deserves. I use my burnout experience to remind myself the importance of taking a break and relaxing.

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Sort of, but it’s more of a deadline with myself. Mainly to be more job ready either via freelancing (which I do off and on now) or at a position with a company.
Basically that thought process is just me pushing myself to code something after not doing anything for so long. It’s undo pressure to get back on the horse as it were.

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Nice to meet a fellow yarn enthusiast! I totally hear you with switching between activities and I do much of the same stuff you do but change languages for gardening lol.

I did start utilizing a pomodoro technique with a split of 45/15 I just didn’t make it a habit. I’d either keep working past the 45 minutes or keep chilling past the 15 :laughing: Or I’d forget to reset my timer. That being said I think you’re on the money there and I’ll be more diligent with using it when I get back to coding.

I will totally check out CollegeInfoGeek thanks for the recommendation!

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@owel I totally hear you on that. I think it’s my own brain punishing me for stopping/slowing down you know? It’s amazing how much pressure we can put on ourselves either knowingly or unknowingly. It’s this mentality to GET IT DONE YESTERDAY. Like every second you’re not honing your code skills the job market is shrinking or that great freelance client is picking someone else because you didn’t quite fit their bill.

So you think to yourself “well wouldn’t it be way more efficient if I learned multiple things at once? I used to do that everyday in school.” and then you pile like 30 different (maybe even only semi-related) subjects on yourself. You’re right it can get completely scattershot to the point where you can’t see the path anymore.

I think at this point my mind is sending me on forced leave :laughing:


@meowjaja Yep it seems to be the exact same thing that’s happening to me. Including the fighting against it part. You’re absolutely right about listening to yourself, I hardly do that. And I realize I haven’t been doing it even now.

There’s a lot of unnecessary guilt I seem to be throwing on myself for stalling out. I really need to heed your advice of ignoring it and instead enjoying my little brain vacation lol. Keep reminding myself I’ll get back into the groove when I’m ready.

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This is a familiar scenario…and i thing that “sweet, initial, great expectations…” of the end results of beginning something new, which eventually exhausts and mind feels tired. I have observed that everyday one has varying potential and being in sync with that can help do away with such burnouts…
I think u should make use of this opportunity in connecting with yourself by doing something related to coding everyday with the state the mind is in…

Cheers!
Abhi

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