Burnout in Software Development

Software development is a demanding job. It bridges the gap between highly technical and creative fields, and to succeed, you have to excel at both. Pair the demands with tight deadlines and impatient clients, and you’ve got the perfect conditions for professional burnout.

Burnout in software development manifests in several ways, especially a drop in work performance, lack of motivation as well as greener pasture syndrome. Developers, after all, can — and do work wherever they want, but jumping ship is not always the solution to burnout. There are ways that organizations can help avert the worst effects of burnout, but part of it is also a personal mindset and some strategies to stave off burnout. Here are some of the ways to keep burnout at bay or turn it around if you find yourself questioning your career choice.

Causes of Burnout – What’s Behind It?

There are many causes for burnout. Company culture, tone-deaf management or mismatched personal and professional goals can all have an effect. Not all of them have to be about you, but if you identify with just one, you may feel burned out.

Toxic work environment

It may be because of your working environment and atmosphere. We often don’t realize how much the people we work with affect productivity in the workplace. We compare ourselves to others, their achievements, which makes us feel inadequate. We no longer like our ideas, we envy what others have come up with. It does not have to be that your team is malicious, it’s possible that you do not see the help offered to you, or you do not want to use it. It’s very important that people employed in the company where you work have good contact with each other and motivate each other. Don’t act as competitors, but as a team.

Making too much of yourself

Have you stopped feeling competent in your software development skills? Low assessment of your own achievements and inability to perform the duties that have not been difficult for you so far say that something disturbing is happening. The reason may be that the job you once loved does not give you the same satisfaction today. You’re probably making too much of yourself. Are you a perfectionist? In this case, it may lead to exhaustion and burnout.

Having no limits

Another reason for burnout can be overloading yourself with too many responsibilities. You think you can do a lot more, but your body and mind don’t agree. The work of a software developer is very demanding. It is nothing like normal work performed in an imposed hourly system. There you could have a series of returnable quarters to perform. Our job is different every day and requires a lot of commitment to be the best in our profession. This is why you feel that you have stopped developing in your job. The longer you experience burnout, the worse it gets.

Burnout in Software Development 1

Common Symptoms of Burnout

Among common burnout signs there are:

  • Lower work quality
  • Concentration problems
  • Irritability
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Interpersonal conflicts
  • Insomnia
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Feeling isolated
  • Negative attitude towards work
  • Losing a sense of self-worth
  • Avoiding contact with people
  • Fantasizing about quitting your job
  • Being afraid of Monday, waiting for Friday
  • You don’t feel like you are developing and making progress
  • You can’t remember the last time you achieved something
  • Your coworkers give you a wide berth 

Remember that you don’t need to have all the symptoms to experience burnout. Yet, if you have noticed some of these signs, it is possible that you are facing this phenomenon. It is not a feeling that you can’t diminish or eliminate entirely. If you feel this is affecting the quality of your work, don’t underestimate your symptoms and try to work on them. Determine what is the most onerous for you. What keeps you from getting job satisfaction?

How To Avoid Burnout

Set clear boundaries and realistic goals. Don’t expect the impossible from yourself. Adjust your personal expectations to avoid dissatisfaction when you start to feel burned out. Don’t forget that you’re only human and not a robot. You can’t be too hard on yourself. You can also test your limits and see how much work you can realistically do. That’s what you expect from yourself. Thanks to this, you can recognize symptoms and avoid the onset of professional burnout.

In the work of a software developer, you should work on your creativity systematically. Training your mind to always run at top speed is always associated with systematic and constant training. 

It is important to separate work from private life. Only an appropriate balance between professional and personal life can save you from the unpleasant consequences of this state. Keep a diary where you will write down how you spend your time so you can see exactly what you are spending your hours on.

Think about your values. Have your values changed since you started working in this company? 

  • While a career change can be difficult, it can sometimes turn out to be beneficial
  • Think about development opportunities outside the workplace. Be aware of your life goals and remember to update your skills
Burnout in Software Development 2

A greater dose of positive emotions means greater creativity. Positive emotions will open your awareness to a wider range of thoughts and behaviors. People who, based on their experience, perceive their effectiveness as high, experience less stress in difficult situations.

Start working on your reactions in difficult situations. Controlling your emotions is a key part of working with others. Remember that no one has a life without challenges or difficult situations. Getting back into balance at work is highly recommended. It is worth limiting the pace of work and duties, setting the framework and rules of work.

How To Deal With Burnout if it’s Already Happened

If you’re at a stage where you’ve already burned out, don’t break down. There are still ways to manage it.

Work on your self-esteem and confidence. Start by appreciating yourself from noticing your achievements and self-awareness. A bad attitude towards work can sometimes be due to your attitude towards yourself, so start enjoying what you do. Start naming your achievements and successes, and you’ll begin to recognize them and appreciate them more. It will turn out that you are not as unfounded as you thought.

Stop multitasking. Focus on one task, not several things at once. We often think that we can divide our attention and do several things at once, but this is rarely the case. This illusion can be deceptive and short-sighted. 

  • Focus on short bursts of deep work on one task before moving to a different one
  • Consider similar projects you have done in the past and their duration. It is also worth considering time for other projects that you are working on simultaneously.

If bad relationships with the people you work with make you feel unwell, report it and try to find a solution together. It’s worth getting along with each other and making the time spent together. Toxic working conditions are not conducive to performing even the smallest activities. Let alone the work of a software developer. 

Burnout in Software Development 3

One of the first things you can do to improve burnout is to try to work with your direct manager to try to reformat your work or delegate some of your workload. It’s not always clear to project managers or supervisors that their reports are overwhelmed. Sometimes you just have to be transparent and set clear boundaries. Of course, that vulnerability can be risky in a toxic work environment. Depending on how your organization responds to professional burnout, it may be time to update your CV and move on. 

More and more organizations recognize the damage burnout can cause. Not only for employee wellbeing but also the bottom line. It’s expensive to lose productivity and to constantly recruit.  


Burnout is an insidious process of gradual mental and physical exhaustion. While it doesn’t show up overnight and it’s hard to diagnose at first, there are many things we can do to combat it. You should start using them to prevent further symptoms from appearing. Think about what’s causing your burnout and take steps to cut the triggers. 

Don’t underestimate even the slightest signs so as not to develop this condition. If you feel that something is not as it should be, this is a signal for you to try to locate the problem and fix it. It’s hard to find the perfect balance. It is enough not to exaggerate and common sense, but surprisingly, we often miss it. There is no escape from burnout, so things won’t get better if you don’t make changes. Be proactive with making constant changes to your lifestyle.

Slow down a little and let yourself rest for a moment. But only for a moment!

Let's chat!

Burnout in Software Development: What’s Behind it and How to Fight it - marcel-100px Hi, I’m Marcin, COO of Applandeo

Are you looking for a tech partner? Searching for a new job? Or do you simply have any feedback that you'd like to share with our team? Whatever brings you to us, we'll do our best to help you. Don't hesitate and drop us a message!

Drop a message
Burnout in Software Development: What’s Behind it and How to Fight it - Start-a-project