Managing the burnout burn-down

A research-based framework for recognising and managing overwork.

Burnout is a recurring point of discussion amongst dev rel practitioners. What can we do to recognise and avoid burnout before it’s too late? Anjuan Simmons shares practical advice in this talk from DevRelCon London 2019.


  • The emotional cost in the form of burnout in the software industry is unaccounted for.

  • Burnout leads to three major consequences

    • Exhaustion

    • Cynicism and detachment

    • Sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment

  • Taking a break from social media helps. If you can't do it permanently, restrict it to whatever's important.

  • Health -- burnout takes a physical toll on the body.

    • Staying hydrated.

    • Getting enough sleep.

    • Physical activity to keep your body moving.


  • The emotional cost in the software industry is unaccounted for.

  • A lot of people forget about this emotional cost which is caused by burnout.

Causes of burnout in Tech

  • There's always new technologies and new tools and new frameworks that need to be learnt.

  • To always keep shipping -- always shipping code, values to customers and proving worth to the business.

  • Increased workload.


  • Psychological syndrome leads to three major consequences

    • Exhaustion

    • Cynicism and detachment

    • Sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment

Symptoms of Burnout

  • The ongoing feelings that today's resources aren't enough to meet tomorrow's demands.

Three Dimensions

  • Emotional Exhaustion

  • Depersonalisation

  • Reduced personal accomplishment


  • Research by Gallup shows -- out of 7.5K employees, 23% reported feeling burned out at least sometimes.

  • Another 20% reported feeling burnout very often or always.

  • 40% felt burned out sometimes.

  • Around 2/3rd of full-time workers experience burnout on the job, i.e 66%

Highly engaged workforce tend to end deal with burnout and are the first ones around you who might be planning to exit.


  • Feelings tired and having stress, elevated blood pressure and increased heart rate.

  • Progression of mood from being sad, to being terrified to having outbursts of anger.

  • Bedridden or end up in emergency rooms cause they are "too tired" and "exhauster" from burnout.

Common solutions to burnout

Corporate solutions

  • Hiring coaches to tackle burnout in employees

Individual solution

  • Escapism

    • Nice vacation -- make sure you don't make vacation into work -- trying to click best pictures everywhere.

We try to do so much work to show we are not working.

Burndown chart

  • 50 in the image is 50 units of work, units can be anything based on your work.

  • The ideal line would be a straight line where every day an equal amount of work is done and by day 10 we get it down to zero.

  • If you are working under the line, then you are burning out.

Burnout Resistant teams

How to create teams that are burnout resistant?

  • Relationships

    • Developing connections

    • Engagement between coworkers

    • Get-togethers

  • Having a gift card that requires two people to use them.

  • Getting out and meeting in person and working together.

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