Nowadays any profession is prone to burnout and for web developers stress and feeling overworked are sadly too often a familiar reality. That being said, at the beginning of a brand new year, the idea of burnout might not seem like a reality that you will hopefully have to deal with any time soon!
As the saying goes, “Prevention is better than a cure” and it is therefore much better to look at practical ways that will help you to prevent physical and/or mental collapse. So, without further ado, here are eight great tips for web developers to prevent stress and feeling overworked.
1. Turn down work
Web developers many times get approached (or rather cornered) by a family member or friend asking them to just design a simple website for their new charity or business venture quickly. When this happens, know that it is not a sin if you decide not to offer your web design services to loved ones all the time (even more so if it would be free of charge) .
So, if you find it difficult to say “No”, make a point of it this year to decline a new project politely when you already know that you are spread too thinly at work. Then, make sure that you actually do something with that time that you have “saved” (even if it is simply to indulge). Mastering the art of declining work is key if you want to survive in this taxing industry.
2. Step away from your computer screen
It is really important that you should put aside some time that you can remove yourself from your work. As a matter of fact, this is so important that it is something that you should schedule every day. After all, there has to be a very good reason why lunch breaks are actually a legal requirement in most areas.
During your lunch break (perhaps you are in a fortunate position to get an entire hour), you should pause what you were busy designing so that you can give new strength to your body and mind. This means that you will be able return to your work desk with more oomph. A win-win situation for your employer, client and yourself!
Web developers many times find themselves working unconventional hours. So, it does not necessarily mean that you have to claim your break when everyone else usually takes their lunch break. The most important thing is that you do in fact see to it that you take an hour off every single day simply to refill your own glass.
During this free time you can go for a light stroll (if you find going to the gym relaxing you can even do that), join a buddy for a cup of coffee or catch up on some light reading (listening to an e-book counts too).
3. Take things slower
Let us be honest, the best holiday does not necessarily mean that your life was any less fast-paced. So, make the necessary arrangements that allow you simply to take some time off designing. If a two-week long holiday is not possible, there are many ways that meditation can help web developers to reach optimal performance at work. In short, to make sure that the periods during which you operate at a slower pace are truly restorative, you will have to avoid your mobile devices (or at least only allow yourself to check your inbox at certain set times).
4. Jazz up your usual routine
There are certain phases of any design project that can become rather boring. So, to combat monotony, you can from time to time change the way that you usually go about your workday. For example, why not hold a group discussion with other web developers to generate new designs together?
5. Find an alternative office space
If your work situation allows it, it can be beneficial if you work remotely from time to time. If heavy traffic was not already enough, web developers can find it challenging to interact with all the different characters at work and, on top of that, deal with office politics. After all, web design often calls for a peaceful work environment. In addition, you might find yourself in a position where you are not the most productive (or creative) between traditional work hours.
If you work for a web design agency, why not ask your boss if can you instead work from home from time to time? When you can work in an environment that matches your routine – a place where you will not get distracted – you will feel more on top of things. Even if you can only trade sitting in traffic for sitting at one of your favourite spots for a couple of days per month, you will feel less stressed and overworked.
6. Take part in a development challenge
As web developers, it is easy to stick to what you feel comfortable with. However, at times you will need a distraction from the regular and conventional. One of the best ways to do that is to busy yourself with an interesting development challenge.
Development challenges many times have a theme and then you will get asked to develope something specific once a day for a set period. You can relax as it is only for fun – it will not add to your stress! It simply gives you the chance to put your creativity to the test where you for a change do not have to follow a client’s terms and conditions which can be restrictive.
Another activity that can help web developers to prevent burnout is to experiment with something that might not be part of their work per se, but that still deals with website design. For example, you can play around with cool gadgets or sign up for a painting class. Basically, the idea is to find an activity (not linked to possible monetary gain or pressure) that allows you to let your creativity run wild. In addition to expanding the skills that you require for your current job, it might just help you to discover other fields that could become your new career in the distant future.
7. Join Networks
All web developers should have a reliable group of fellow developers. At some stage you might just feel the need to blow off some steam (after all, some clients are more challenging than others) and then it can be truly worthwhile to share your experience with a fellow designer who could offer you a different way of looking at the situation.
Luckily you have a number of options. You can become a member of a professional organisation, attend a conference or join groups on Facebook where you can take part in chats. If you prefer one-to-one conversation, simply identify someone who you view as a mentor and meet him/her regularly for a drink (or two). According to Magicdust, veteran web developers in Sydney, networking with other developers not only keeps your knowledge and focus current but it is also an incredibly effect way to progress your career.
The challenge is not to allow these conversations (whether online or in person) to turn into an event where you just end up complaining about trivial matters. Instead, try to chat about the important website features that website developers should include in their designs.
Once you have identified your network, remember to grow your network. Every week or month set aside a couple of hours to listen to what your fellow web developers are busy with and share some of your issues and how you have managed to solve them.
8. Make your physical well-being a priority
Even though web developers know this mantra, a series of tight deadlines many times mean that they drink way too many cups of coffee. Combine that with working into the wee hours of the morning and burnout all of a sudden becomes an actual reality.
This type of lifestyle is not sustainable and there will come a time that your body will take a stand. As a matter of fact, when you get sick you will just end up feeling more overrun and anxious that you will not be able to complete everything.
There are many strategies that web developers can apply to ensure success, however, at the end of the day if they do not know which actionable steps they can take to prevent burnout, they (let alone their website designs) will not be of much use to their clients.
So, this year make sure that you do in fact spend enough time away from your laptop screen (and smartphone for that matter) and catch up with your loved ones (and not by chatting online). Also, go outside and exercise! Well, at least give it a try this year… As they say there is no time like the present!