What do you do when you're burned out?

What do you do when you're burned out?
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Right now, I feel incredibly burned out. I can’t really bring myself to work on my projects or even lessons and end up simply staring at my code, sometimes for literal hours on end, scrolling through it repeatedly. My job involves programming (though not quite related to FCC - I’m looking at micro controllers there) and I just have lost all passion on both this site and at work to the point I am considering changing my major to something non programming related, or maybe even moving away from STEM altogether simply because I can’t get myself to think.

I do believe you can put enough effort into anything and you’ll eventually get good at it, but the previous interest and fascination with coding has just seemed to vanish, maybe I’ll just come back to it as a hobby in a few months. I’ve tried to simply not touch anything coding related for a weekend to get myself a break but it is a little bit difficult when I ultimately go back to work every Monday, we’ll see how I feel after a long Thanksgiving break.

Still, has anyone pulled themselves out of burnout like this, or is coding as a career just not for everyone? Regardless of what answers I get, I hope there are some good tips for myself or others who might be in a similar situation, I haven’t yet found anything that works for me other than occasionally brute-forcing myself to move on with a project.

What generally works for me is picking up an activity that is completely non-technical on the side, such as volunteering at a local non-profit or getting involved in the community in some way. Are there any organizations you could join to help get your mind of coding and recharge for a few hours a day?

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I always get home after dark during the colder months and live in a somewhat dead part of the city, so there is not a lot I feel safe doing outside of the house until summer rolls around again when there’s light. I’ve been heading down to a nearby state park on weekends to go on walks however, so I might look for volunteer opportunities around there now that you mention it - participating in an activity where I can get some sense of accomplishment like that may be just the right thing. I’ll definitely try that, thanks.

I’ve been a gamer most of my life and use that as an outlet that is basically 100% unrelated to programming/coding. It also fed and still feeds my competitiveness, and grit I leverage when debugging issues.

Usually a weekend doing whatever with friends and family is enough to not feel burnt out. I have gotten pretty close to that when I was doing side projects the moment I got home from work. The pace is simply not sustainable.

I personally find myself thinking about my side project(s) often, but don’t have a change to work on them. I only work on them when I want, and when I can, if not then its no big deal.

I can’t really bring myself to work on my projects or even lessons and end up simply staring at my code, sometimes for literal hours on end, scrolling through it repeatedly.

Then don’t do it, don’t force yourself to do it, don’t read it, don’t open it, don’t even try. Do something else. Your right in that if you put in enough effort you can get where you want to go, but not all effort is the same. 20 minutes of focused work can be more effective than 20 hours of unfocused work.


The best mindset is one where you are curious and filled with energy. If aren’t in that state, you can’t “will” yourself to being curious, or filled with energy. If your lacking those two you need to find “a muse”, and rest. “The muse” is was makes you curious, and is very dependent on you. Energy is simple in that if your tired, you wont have the drive to do anything. Rest, balance out your life to get more.

There was an article I read that talked about why working so hard makes no sense. You work so you can have free time, but most people work so hard they are too tired to enjoy free time, so whats the point?. You can still work hard, but always save some in the tank for yourself. Learn something new, different, something you thought is cool, or something totally random with that energy.

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This is a very good point to make, I will keep that in mind going forward. I never really thought about how much time I was wasting that I could have been using for any number of things, now that I think back on it, so that’s a good point of view to look at things from.

I’ll take a little break and drop all side projects (temporarily at least). I guess by forcing myself to try and work I’ve made the problem harder for myself to work through. I’ll take your advice and find something else to do that I do have energy for and interest in, then come back once I’ve gotten everything back together with a new sense of interest, keeping this in mind:

I appreciate your comment :slightly_smiling_face:

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Using a Pomodoro technique to study is quite effective. It involves focusing on a task without any distractions for a short time e.g 20-25mins. Then have a short break, eg. 5min. Repeating focusing and having a break for four times makes one Pomodoro. One set is probably enough for a day, especially when you’re working as well. Keeping the task small would help focus better. Breaks are important as they give the brain a rest from focusing and time to process what we’ve learnt. Using the break to reward yourself is a great way to keep motivated and feel happy with what we’ve done so far. Exercising, socialising, doing some relaxing activities are great choices as they make us feel happy.

I agree with that wholeheartedly. If you can not focus at all and you have no motivation, that’s a sign from your mind and body that you need to be doing something else. While it’s important to be disciplined, you really can’t force yourself to be productive all the time. When you do, you end up where you are currently.

Sounds like you really need to find a balance in your life. Probably only you can figure out what it is you need to pull your mind away from work and into another state. For me personally, it’s social contact. I recover most easily when I am in the presence of people I love and who are important to me. Just shooting the breeze, getting a drink, talking about nothing. I also love going to the movies.

Do you have something like that? Maybe a hobby or something else that is completely unrelated to productivity? If so, it might be good to spend more time doing it. If not, it might be time to get one.

Hope this helps!

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