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Lee Brandt's Blog You're only as smart as your last line of code

I consider myself extremely fortunate. I go to work everyday and do something I LOVE to do and I get paid quite well for it. Everyone should be that lucky. But about once a year I go through what I call, "Code Burn Out". I still enjoy what I do, I just don't come home and work on my own stuff. I don't spend all my time reading about software development and practicing to make myself better. I spend very little time on Twitter, and I don't even get on my computer very much afterboredom normal working hours.

Now you may say, "That's good. You should do that all the time. That's a great way to create a work-life balance and not get burnt out in the first place."

The thing is, programming was a hobby of mine long before it became my profession. I've tried other hobbies and haven't found any others that really stimulate me like software development. I just know I will hit a "slump" about once a year. It usually lasts for about 2-3 weeks. The problem is, this year it lasted for a month and a half.

Of course, I did have extra busy year. I got the chance to travel and speak quite a bit (Thanks to all who allowed me to speak at their events) and helping to run my local user group and organizing the first (ever I think) Kansas City Day of Dot Net. Maybe that's why it lasted so much longer this year. But after about 3 weeks I started to try to think of ways to break out of that funk. I finally did it, and wanted to share in case someone else can benefit. There are several things you can do to get those development "juices" flowing again.

Buy A New Piece Of Hardware

I bought a second monitor. I had dual 24" monitors for about 4 months until one of the monitors started flaking out. Of course, the 90-day warranty was expired, so I just started using one monitor at home. Granted it's a BIG monitor, so I wasn't TOO upset by it. But I recen5tly went and got a second monitor to bring back the duals and it has definitely gotten my spirits up.

Build Something Small, But Challenging

Nothing breeds enthusiasm like success. If you find TDD challenging, test-drive out a calculator app, or a simple website. If you find expression trees challenging, try building a small app that pieces together expression trees. Make sure it is something you can build in a weekend or two and make sure you have plenty of help resources.

Find A Beta (or Alpha) Technology And Give It A Go

If you are the type that likes learning without a net, picking up some Beta or Alpha software that you can try out and learn about can really build that 'Espirit De Code'. This approach can have multiple benefits. Not only will you break out of your funk, but you may be able to help others learn about that technology once it goes live. You also get to submit bug reports and help the developers of the software you are using and possibly even shape the direction of that software. How cool is that?

Get By With A Little Help From Your Friends

Finally, you can just talk to your colleagues about things you're mutually interested in. I work with a guy who is passionate about ALM and Lean software development, and I am too. So talking with him about new techniques, ways to implement lean process in life as well as software really gets both of us going. That kind of interaction can not only kindle passion in your OWN development, but others' lives as well.

Posted on Wednesday, December 30, 2009 10:16 PM | Back to top

Comments on this post: How To Recover From Developer Burn Out

# re: How To Recover From Developer Burn Out
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You forgot "Mentor somebody" and "Get involved (or start) a user's group."
Left by Jim on Dec 31, 2009 7:17 AM

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