Girl with a book over her face

A Coding Student's Guide to Avoiding Burnout

Software development is a world well known to create burnout in people who aren’t careful about how well they take care of themselves. Whether it’s the fault of the employer or the employee, we need to do a much better job of helping developers avoid burnout. Students are no exception. Sometimes all you want to do is jump in and work hard without thinking about managing your health and your well-being. Having a coding student’s guide to avoiding burnout; however, can make a big difference in how long you’ll actually want to keep studying and even whether or not you’ll finish.

Following the few recommendations here can also make your web development journey a lot less stressful, and a lot more enjoyable. Remember that coding should be a part of your life, not the entire thing. Some may disagree, and fewer still may actually thrive when they devote every waking hour to coding. For the vast majority of us, avoiding burnout is something that requires putting development into the correct perspective in our lives. Here are a few suggestions for you to try.

Set your expectations early

Make sure you know what you expect to get out of your coding education, but also remind yourself that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. When you understand the pacing that this will require, you’re more likely to allow yourself the time to take breaks and decompress when you really need it.

Coding will be there when you get back.

Create a great environment

Working in an environment that’s comfortable and fun to be in can make a huge difference in how you feel after a long session of writing code. If you can make it as relaxing and enjoyable as possible, it’ll take less out of you each time you find yourself in a long session.

Utilize your network

A good group of supportive friends can help in several ways. When you’re working, taking a few minutes to share a joke, ask for help on a tough problem, or just Slack the latest emoji you’ve uploaded can create a moment of levity that releases a little stress and helps get you through the day.

Aside from friends in your coding world, remember to take time with friends in the real world. Get away from your computer screen and grab some food, watch a show, or play a game. Make sure to get outside with other humans as well.

Time management

Be sure to notice how long you’ve been coding. Often, if you stop for the day when you already know what code you’re going to write next, the following session is that much easier to get into. Don’t be afraid to stop and “break the flow” you’re in. It’ll come back.

Taking breaks

In regards to time management, breaks are everything. As I mentioned above with utilizing your network, getting out for meals and for short outings, such as a coffee break, can be instrumental to a productive day. Often, once you’ve stepped away and cleared your mind, a solution to a problem may come easier once you’re back at it.

But this also applies to your normal workflow as well. Try to break it up as much as you can, and as regularly as possible. If you haven’t worked with the Pomodoro method, definitely give it a try. It just breaks up the day into chunks of time that also include breaks. For instance, you may work through one-hour long Pomodoros where you have 50 minutes of work and 10 minutes of rest. Each break gives you time to stretch, grab a drink, whatever you need to do. Highly recommended.

Lastly, remember to pay close attention to yourself while you’re on this learning path. Sometimes burnout can sneak up on you. If you’re following the above recommendations, taking breaks, managing your time, and connecting with others often, it’s much easier to avoid burnout. However, you’re the only one who can feel it coming on. If you do, take a longer break and see how you feel after a week or so. If you feel better about things after stepping away for a while, take note and allow yourself those kinds of breaks as often as you need them.

But, be honest with yourself if you’re still feeling unmotivated after a longer break. Coding will always be here. Your health and your happiness is something to guard very closely.