Blaze Through These 5 Tips for Avoiding Burn Out

April 20, 2017

"Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty..." - Theodore Roosevelt

"Ugh, I hate this project..." - Me

Project burn out is a real issue. Work on something long enough, and you're bound to feel that creeping feeling of fatigue and loss of interest. That once-bright flame of excitement you held at the beginning of the project has slowly faded into a nagging annoyance. Thoughts of all the tedious details still left to do only make one want to abandon the project altogether. Here are a few tips to help manage and boost morale, and give your lagging enthusiasm a needed jolt:

Full disclosure: I'm a developer, so most of these tricks are tailored to digital projects. However, many of these can be adapted relatively easily for analog applications.

1. Review and polish what you have

I do a lot of programming. Whenever I feel burnt out by a project, I'll go back through the code I've already written, polishing and reviewing it. This helps me feel on top of the project and helps remind me of how much I've already accomplished. It can also help revitalize me and remind me of the goal I'm working towards. Oftentimes, I'll feel burnt out because I know that the project isn't "absolutely structured perfectly" or there are a lot of quick-fixes and inefficient code. Smoothing these areas over can have a tremendous impact on my resolve for the project.

2. Write out all the requirements for the project

On paper, write out a high-level outline or overview of the project, specifically with a strong final goal. Then, cut the project down to whatever you need to get to that goal within a week (or by the end of the weekend, end of the day, etc.) It might not be the final version of what you want, but the value of having a rough product you can play with is a huge moral booster.

3. Work on the fun part of the project

If you feel you're getting weighed down by tedious little details, jump to the fun part and work on that for a little bit. Then go back to the other parts later.

4. Show a valued friend or family member

This works great especially if it's a personal project. Showing off what you're building can inject some excitement back into the original idea of the project. Plus they might give some great insight to help simplify the idea, or give it a new perspective that pivots the original idea.

5. Take a break

This is a very important step. If you've been working on the project regularly, take a break. Whatever length of time feels appropriate, just long enough to let you mind focus on other things. Go to a museum, take a vacation, or just walk around the block. Whatever helps your mind relax a little and recharge.

These are some tricks I use, but there are certainly many more. Everyone is different, so play around and see what works best for you. To end as I started, I'll leave you with of my favorite quotes:

"It's not a sprint, it's a marathon" - Unknown