It's alright to take a break

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Yes, I'm here to tell you, you should take a break. Breaks are important they help us see things from a different perspective.

It doesn't mean one truth, it means take 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:

Mark Wahlberg breaking a computer

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 and it's 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, but it resulted in coming back, viewing the problem from a fresh perspective, and solving it right away.

At one stage my former boss asked me why I would walk away and I explained the process, more importantly, I told him that walking away for 5/10 minutes surely 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, just taking a short break to check Instagram for 10 minutes is also fine. 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!

Work to weekend gif

Weekend breaks to recover

I don't know about you, but I spend most of my weekends still doing some kind of developing, 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.

Even when telling myself I won't do any work you get drawn to it. You're on your phone checking your mail and some silly work emails 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 important, the goal to making them work is forcing yourself to have zero tech, what we do is we plan a day trip to a garden, picnic, hike, or whatever you like. Once you made the plan agree with your partner, kids, 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!

Holiday gif

Holidays

Finally, holiday time.

First of all, I know all to 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 important for personal growth.

When you are always 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 quite hard, they often come with much anticipation and handovers. These factors make it hard to get in the relaxed mode. Try and not to look on your devices for the first 1/2 days, by then you should be out of the work mentality.

Car doing a burnout

Longer breaks to prevent burnouts

Sometimes you might need a longer non-holiday break, often to help prevent burnout.

And yes, you can feel burnouts coming, are you feeling always 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 obvious 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 single day!

Heck, I even stopped doing overtime, tomorrow is another day.

About 2 months ago, I had three deadlines at the same time, and yes working on multiple projects is a bad idea, but 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, explain how I was feeling 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.

Sloth in space

Slowed down breaks

Continuing on the above, you might feel burnout, stress, or peer pressure but not a full one.

It might be super useful to "slow down" this means 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 it's 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.

Thank you for reading, and let's connect!

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Ayu Adiati's photo

Thanks for the reminder to take breaks once in a while, Chris Bongers 😄

Chris Bongers's photo

You're welcome, we tend to forget the importance of breaks and our mental health sometimes.

I have my Fiancé instructed to tell me to take breaks 👀

Bhargav Ponnapalli's photo

100% Chris Bongers.

Burnout is real and taking breaks is super important. I am on a much bigger break right now myself.

Small breaks help me get back focus but I needed a sabbatical to get out of burnout and thankfully I am getting better.

Thanks for this!

Chris Bongers's photo

You are so right Bhargav, and there is nothing wrong with taking a break!

It's healthy, we recover and get back with a fresh breath of energy, instead of working on 20% for a long time.