Burnout in tech, and why you could be part of the problem.

A 2 minute read, written by Chris Annetts on 6 February 2017.

We all feel overwhelmed from time to time, and in a psychologically exhausting World of 24-hour iOS notifications and 15-man group chats, it’s to be expected. But what happens when every day feels insurmountable?

A sense of helplessness, a drop in your usual productivity, or an chronic lack of energy are just a few symptoms of burnout; an emotional, mental, and physical state of exhaustion, caused by a prolonged exposure to stress.

Worryingly, there are a number of reasons why those in tech are at an increased risk:

  • Unless we setup our tools (email, Slack etc) appropriately, we’re on call 24/7
  • We change jobs more than most industries, which means another new boss/team to impress
  • Many of us are freelancers, and without a large dose of self-discipline, working hours become open-ended
  • Those of us in offices often take our work home
  • “Our product is finally getting some traction”
  • “Our product isn’t getting traction”
  • “We’ve landed our first big account”
  • “We haven’t won any big accounts yet”

When you pander to a client, a stakeholder, or a superior, by pushing yourself to meet an unreasonable target, you’re creating unrealistic exceptions of not only yourself, but for your peers.

When you say yes to an unfair timescale, you’re perpetuating the notion that such a request is reasonable. Slave-driving seniors are arseholes, and the longer we allow them to be arseholes, they will be.

New research from Australian National University suggests that working beyond 39 hours puts us at risk of developing mental health problems. Every single one of us should be able to do our job without risking our psychological wellbeing.

We have an obligation, not only to ourselves, but to every single person in the tech industry. Until we all do our bit, the cycle of acceptance will continue.