Yes, I'm here to tell you that you should take a break. Breaks are necessary. They help us see things from a different perspective.
It doesn't mean one truth. It means taking enough time for that moment in time to feel like a break.
I hope that makes sense, but we will be going through some examples and their importance.
In this article:
- Small breaks to solve issues
- Weekend breaks to recover
- Longer breaks to prevent burnouts
- Slowed down breaks
Small breaks to solve issues
I think it's fair to say we have all been here, staring at the screen for 3 hours, hoping your brain will solve that one pesky bug.
It just doesn't want to be solved, driving you insane. Your posture sucks, your brain hurts, and it almost feels like you can't be taken seriously as a developer anymore.
However, 🛑 Stop for a second, walk away from the computer, but more importantly, from the situation.
Try not to think about that stupid bug and take a short walk.
I used to take 5/10 minutes walks when this happened, and at first, people in the office would always think that's weird. Still, it returned, viewed the problem from a fresh perspective, and solved it right away.
At one stage, my former boss asked me why I would walk away. I explained the process. More importantly, I told him that walking away for 5/10 minutes was more important than me viewing my screen for 3 hours, and he agreed.
More and more people started to use this method, and it worked. Less stress, more effective bug solving.
Sidenote: You don't always have to go for a walk. Taking a short break to check Instagram for 10 minutes is also acceptable. Yes, people will think it's silly, but it's resetting your mind.
Just don't spend more time on these breaks than actually working!
Weekend breaks to recover
I don't know about you, but I spend most of my weekends still developing and solving problems in my head. Being reminded of that pesky bug that's waiting for me on Monday.
And it sucks! We only get 2/7 days off, and even on those 2 days, we struggle with this stuff in our head.
You get drawn to it even when telling yourself I won't do any work. You're on your phone checking your mail, and some silly work email pops up. You just can't help my note it. And there your brain goes, down the rabbit hole of problem-solving already.
That is when weekend breaks are essential. The goal of making them work is forcing yourself to have zero techs. We plan a day trip to a garden, picnic, hike, or whatever you like. Once you made the plan agree with your partner, kids, and friends that no technology is allowed.
You will see within 30 minutes that everyone is more aware of the actual outing and will be grateful for this time off.
If you want to take this next level, go and try remote camping, where you just don't have an option to check your phone or laptop!
Finally, holiday time.
First of all, I know many tech people who don't even take holidays, and I was one of them.
You always think, but there is so much work, or, I don't even need a holiday.
But you do! Holidays are good to recover from stress and essential for personal growth.
When you are constantly pushing yourself, making your brain work at 100% capacity, you can't really grow as a person.
It's much like muscles overtraining them won't make them grow. They need rest to actually recover and grow bigger.
And yes, holidays are pretty hard. They often come with much anticipation and handovers. These factors make it hard to get into the relaxed mode. Try not to look on your devices for the first 1/2 days. By then, you should be out of the work mentality.
Longer breaks to prevent burnout
Sometimes you might need a more extended non-holiday break, often to help prevent burnout.
And yes, you can feel burnout coming. Are you constantly grumpy when people even ask you how your day was yesterday? If you want coffee or tea?
There you go, burnout of some kind upcoming.
But those are obviously quite extreme. Other signs I personally experiences are;
- Headaches (very mild, but always there)
- Feeling super slow in your work
- Can't even do simple tasks
- Angry at everything and everyone
- Quickly annoyed
Burnouts in tech are a huge issue, and luckily I see more and more companies fighting against it.
It's not cool to be pressured into doing "free" overtime every day!
Heck, I even stopped doing overtime. Tomorrow is another day.
About 2 months ago, I had three deadlines simultaneously, and yes, working on multiple projects is a bad idea. Still, we don't have a choice sometimes. I felt the burnout coming, couldn't concentrate, was stressed out and angry at my Fiancé.
I felt like an asshole but decided to call my boss and explain how I felt, and he didn't hesitate to give me "unlimited" time to recover.
I know you don't always have this option, so perhaps talk if you can re-arrange your holiday for this period.
Or even talk to the team to see if the workload can be re-arranged.
Slowed down breaks
Continuing on the above, you might feel burnout, stress, or peer pressure but not a full one.
It might be super helpful to "slow down" by working half days for a while.
Or working 3 days a week, you will be astonished how much even 1 extra weekend day can be.
It creates space to recover and reset your brain by breaking its routine.
Share your story
I don't think there can ever be enough stories on this topic. Please feel free to share your story and ways of coping with breaks.