Skip to main content

Neuroscience: Burn-out Visible in the Brains of Patients

I just found this on Hacker News: Burn-out visible in the brains of patients. Since I've suffered from burnout for about a decade, this comes as no surprise to me.

Try to do pushups until you can't do any more. Now, wait a minute, and then do 50 more pushups. That's the best way I can explain what burnout feels like--my brain just feels like jello a lot of times.

I'm sure a lot of other programmers have to deal with this just like I do.

Comments

Donovan Preston said…
Yep. It sucks.
Sam Rushing said…
I find that's the best time to take a break and kill some zombies.
jjinux said…
Hey, Donovan. When I saw you at PyCon, your burnout was palpable. That's really a shame since you're such a creative guy.

Kind of like you, Sam ;)
Dan G Swindles said…
Not sure if you'll ever see this as its an old post, but your description of how a burnout feels is the closest to mine I've ever heard/read - 'how you feel after you've worked out too hard (and you come home and turn white)'.

You mentioned you've been burnt out for ten years, you've have no improvement? I've been burnt out for close to 2 years, I'm getting better, but very slowly
jjinux said…
Dan, I'm still listening ;)

Now that I think about it, I've suffered from burnout since high school. I'm always a little burned out, but if I work too hard, it gets much worse--just like working out. If I actually take off multiple days in a row completely away from the computer, technical books, etc., I become like a coding version of superman for a day or two.

I've talked to a lot of people about their burnout experiences. I've heard of guys who took 6 months to 2 years away from programming, and that really helped. Since I can't afford to do that (I have 6 kids to feed), my approach is to continually mix it up.

Strangely enough, I get more burned out if I stop reading technical books for more than a few weeks and only do work stuff. If I'm always slowly learning something programming related in my spare time (e.g. Scala, Scheme, etc.), it helps keep me excited. In a certain sense, it's my sense of curiosity and need for order (clean code) that drive me when I program, so anything that contradicts those two things leads to burnout.

I actually have a long list of things that I do to help counter burnout. Here are a few of them:

1. I *do not* work on Sundays.

2. I keep a TODO file of everything I need to do. Sometimes I'm too burned out to fit the bigger picture of what I need to do in my head, but if I mechanically follow what the TODO file says, I can usually get some stuff done.

3. Exercise helps. I don't do that enough, unfortunately.

4. Users groups, conferences, etc. help refresh me (I'm an extrovert).

Best of luck!

Popular posts from this blog

Ubuntu 20.04 on a 2015 15" MacBook Pro

I decided to give Ubuntu 20.04 a try on my 2015 15" MacBook Pro. I didn't actually install it; I just live booted from a USB thumb drive which was enough to try out everything I wanted. In summary, it's not perfect, and issues with my camera would prevent me from switching, but given the right hardware, I think it's a really viable option. The first thing I wanted to try was what would happen if I plugged in a non-HiDPI screen given that my laptop has a HiDPI screen. Without sub-pixel scaling, whatever scale rate I picked for one screen would apply to the other. However, once I turned on sub-pixel scaling, I was able to pick different scale rates for the internal and external displays. That looked ok. I tried plugging in and unplugging multiple times, and it didn't crash. I doubt it'd work with my Thunderbolt display at work, but it worked fine for my HDMI displays at home. I even plugged it into my TV, and it stuck to the 100% scaling I picked for the othe

ERNOS: Erlang Networked Operating System

I've been reading Dreaming in Code lately, and I really like it. If you're not a dreamer, you may safely skip the rest of this post ;) In Chapter 10, "Engineers and Artists", Alan Kay, John Backus, and Jaron Lanier really got me thinking. I've also been thinking a lot about Minix 3 , Erlang , and the original Lisp machine . The ideas are beginning to synthesize into something cohesive--more than just the sum of their parts. Now, I'm sure that many of these ideas have already been envisioned within Tunes.org , LLVM , Microsoft's Singularity project, or in some other place that I haven't managed to discover or fully read, but I'm going to blog them anyway. Rather than wax philosophical, let me just dump out some ideas: Start with Minix 3. It's a new microkernel, and it's meant for real use, unlike the original Minix. "This new OS is extremely small, with the part that runs in kernel mode under 4000 lines of executable code.&quo

Haskell or Erlang?

I've coded in both Erlang and Haskell. Erlang is practical, efficient, and useful. It's got a wonderful niche in the distributed world, and it has some real success stories such as CouchDB and jabber.org. Haskell is elegant and beautiful. It's been successful in various programming language competitions. I have some experience in both, but I'm thinking it's time to really commit to learning one of them on a professional level. They both have good books out now, and it's probably time I read one of those books cover to cover. My question is which? Back in 2000, Perl had established a real niche for systems administration, CGI, and text processing. The syntax wasn't exactly beautiful (unless you're into that sort of thing), but it was popular and mature. Python hadn't really become popular, nor did it really have a strong niche (at least as far as I could see). I went with Python because of its elegance, but since then, I've coded both p