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Building Up Without Burning Out


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Presented at Web Unleashed 2016 in Toronto
by Alicia Sedlock,Society of Grownups

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Our industry flaunts burnout like some bizarre badge of honor. Many believe it’s the only way to prove you’re dedicated to your trade, or that advancing your technical knowledge can only be achieved by living with little sleep and ignoring other responsibilities. It’s what creates bias towards those who have families, other hobbies, or even those with mental issues who need time for self care. 

So how do you advance your development knowledge without wearing yourself out? This talk aims to guide the audience through what really matters when building technical skill. The audience will be left with a framework to help them navigate through what’s superfluous and what’s beneficial to learn without being prescriptive.


To give developers a framework for how to build their technical skill without selling their soul to development.

Target Audience

Junior and mid-level developers who are overwhelmed with how to get ahead, and those who don’t know where to concentrate their skill-learning efforts.

Five Things Audience Members Will Learn

Why the industry seems to value the overworked developer persona
Ways to notice if you’re on the cusp of burnout
How to identify which skills would benefit your growth the most
How to make space to actually practice and research upcoming development trends
The value of saying no

Published in: Internet
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Building Up Without Burning Out

  1. 1. How To Fight and Prevent Burnout Alicia Sedlock | @aliciability Web Unleashed 2016
  2. 2. – Wikipedia “Burnout is a type of psychological stress. Occupational burnout or job burnout is characterized by exhaustion, lack of enthusiasm and motivation, feelings of ineffectiveness, and also may have the dimension of frustration or cynicism, and as a result reduced efficacy within the workplace.”
  3. 3. But definitions are boring.
  4. 4. Burnout is different for everyone.
  5. 5. Burnout vs. Technical Growth
  6. 6. Expectations of technical growth • Personal projects, side things, coding all the time • Assumes the person has low number of outside priorities • Assume people will speak up when they are starting to wear thin
  7. 7. Realities of technical growth • There's not infinite time - we've got lives • It's unpaid labor • We want technical experts who are young, because tech ageism
  8. 8. Why are we seeing a public increase in burnout stories?
  9. 9. Hypothesis A The past few years have seen pushes to have more representation in technical teams. Unrepresented groups have to work twice as hard as their majority peers to be see as successful. So in order to "keep up", they are already pushing too hard.
  10. 10. Hypothesis B We expect developers to know everything about everything.
  11. 11. Hypothesis C Ageism in tech puts pressure on folks new in the industry.
  12. 12. Hypothesis D Information overload makes us thing we’re behind.
  13. 13. Stages of burnout
  14. 14. Stages of burnout • The compulsion to prove one’s self
  15. 15. Stages of burnout • Working harder
  16. 16. Stages of burnout • Neglecting their own needs
  17. 17. Stages of burnout • Displacement of conflicts
  18. 18. Stages of burnout • Revision of values
  19. 19. Stages of burnout • Denial of emerging problems
  20. 20. Stages of burnout • Withdrawal
  21. 21. Stages of burnout • Obvious behavioral changes
  22. 22. Stages of burnout • Depersonalization
  23. 23. Stages of burnout • Inner emptiness
  24. 24. Stages of burnout • Depression
  25. 25. Stages of burnout • Burnout syndrome
  26. 26. So…what do we do about it?
  27. 27. Individual
  28. 28. Say no
  29. 29. Check in on yourself
  30. 30. Learn in moderation
  31. 31. Learn to focus on extensible knowledge
  32. 32. What do people want to know you for?
  33. 33. Don't dismiss passive learning
  34. 34. Organizational
  35. 35. Take no as an answer
  36. 36. Make sure your employees are set up for success
  37. 37. Don’t neglect the importance on one-on-one meetings
  38. 38. Want your team to learn? Give them time to learn
  39. 39. Understand boundaries.
  40. 40. We all have intellectual FOMO. Let’s be honest about it.
  41. 41. If it’s not your bottom line, don’t do it.
  42. 42. Thanks @aliciability