Admitting you are burned out is the first step. For the last seven years I feel like I've had my nose to the grindstone trying to be the best software engineer that I could be. I was late getting into the field so I felt like I had a lot to catch up on and overall I'm happy with where I'm at. I can truly say that I enjoyed all of the extra time and effort I put in during that time, so it's hard to explain the feeling of tiredness and lack of motivation when it came to putting in that effort over the last couple of months.
I didn't want to admit that I was feeling burned out from the blog posts and little side projects that I've enjoyed so much over the last several years. I thought that I was determined enough to power through and keep at it. Surely the feeling would go away. Unfortunately, I was wrong. I was burned out or at the very least on the verge of it. I felt great at work every day, but when it came to opening my laptop at night and finding that drive to keep cracking on blog posts or side projects I just didn't have it.
It took me a while to admit that I was burned out, but the admission was the key for me to begin to fight back.
What to do when you feel burned out. Once I realized that I was feeling burned out the next step was figuring out how to combat it. For me, this meant taking a complete step back from what I was burned out from. I stopped working on development side projects and dev-focused blog posts. While this might sound relaxing, it definitely took a mindset shift to understand that I wasn't being lazy and that the break wasn't permanent.
Ultimately, I do all of this extra stuff because I enjoy it. I have no real obligation to continue writing posts, but I want to because I know how it helps me organize my thoughts and also helps others on their development journeys. I think it's important to take a step back and consider the reasons causing burnout. They'll be different for everyone, but understanding the underlying cause can be really helpful in getting beyond it.
I think there were a lot of factors at play for my own personal burnout. I'm in the middle of transitioning from IC to engineering management, which is challenging and mentally taxing during the day. I also haven't really taken any breaks longer than a few days over the last few years. I was overdue for a change of pace. Luckily for me, I was able to fill the time with other things that I enjoy like reading and learning more about golf.
If you're feeling burned out (or starting to feel it), I'd recommend leaning into other hobbies or interests. Stepping away for a while and letting your mind take a break from whatever is burning you out can be really beneficial. You may find yourself eager to learn new things or re-energized to get back to it.