Bouncing Back: How to get out of a slump as a developer

#Bouncing #slump #developer

Throughout the year there are weeks where I find myself in a creative block. I am not able to focus on working on my side projects, creating online content, or even my hobbies.


I get the motivation to open my laptop, but I feel like I have lost the fire to produce anything creative. I stare at the screen waiting for that spark, that I thought I had for the task at hand. Next, self doubt starts to creep in and questions start popping in my head:

“Am I ever good enough for this?”

“Do I enjoy this?”

“Is this a waste of time?”

“Should I be pivoting into something else?”

Self-reflection is good, but these were thoughts that made me get into an analysis paralysis. No progress was being made.

I start losing momentum on all my side projects and once I gather myself out of this block, I have to spend some time regaining the inertia. Some side projects that I had made good progress on, now due to the time sensitivity of it, have become obsolete. I did not enjoy seeing this happen.

So, I decided to create a system to prevent myself from falling into this slump. Think of these as checkups you conduct on yourself. Once a week I ask myself the following questions and depending on my answer proceeded accordingly. With the help of these, I have been able to avoid a block or burnout.

1. Am I setting realistic goals?


As developers, a lot of us have those eureka moments. We think of this great project idea and we get busy working at it. The first few lines of codes are like a shot of adrenaline, we are excited and we see our vision slowly coming together.

But as the project continues, this invigorating feeling starts wearing off. Our progress is not as visible as it was in the early phases and we start asking yourself if there is even progress being made. If unfortunate enough, we sometimes lose all the steam we had and don’t even finish the side project to see our vision become reality.

To avoid this, make sure to break down your goals into smaller subgoals with predefined success. This will make your progress more tangible and boost motivation.

2. Am I taking care of myself physically and mentally?


Sometimes we tie our worth to the progress of our project. We decide to spend sleepless nights coding, start losing track of our meals, and slowly stop taking care of ourselves.

This is an unfortunate reality a lot of developers have faced or are currently going through. However, regardless of how much progress your project is making, this lifestyle is not sustainable and will slowly and surely become a big hindrance on not just your project’s life cycle but your personal lifecycle as well.

So, it is very important for you to take care of yourself. Here are some sub-checks for self-care:

  • Have I been hydrating myself?
  • Have I been eating healthy meals?
  • Have I been taking care of my personal hygiene?
  • How clutter free is my living / working area?
  • Have I been taking time out for physical activities?
  • Have I been taking time out for my relationships?

Making sure to have a balanced lifestyle is key to not falling into the endless pitfall of slumps.

3. Am I continuously learning and challenging myself?

Another big reason for getting into a slump is not feeling challenged enough. As we grow into our role, the amount and type of effort we put to achieve success does not provide the same output.

If you are not familiar with “Laws of Diminishing Returns”, it explains how after a certain point the amount of effort and time you put into something won’t provide the same return, and after a certain point the return might even start being a negative net return.

Laws of Diminishing Returns

So, to avoid this state, make sure you are performing self audits on your side projects and knowledge portfolios. Here are some sub checks for audits:

  • Do I know exactly what my side projects are trying to achieve?
  • Am I continuously learning and improving my skills?
  • Are my side projects in line with my long-term goals?
  • Am I connecting and sharing knowledge with others in my field?
  • Is the effort I’m putting into side projects worthwhile in terms of results?

4. Am I recognizing and celebrating my achievements?


One of the worst things for your progress is not knowing that you are making them. You have invested time and effort into your side projects, so make sure you are taking the time to recognize your success.

This will not only keep you motivated to stay on track but also makes the process worthwhile. Because if you are not enjoying the process, then it will not be sustainable.

In conclusion, don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s all about how you bounce back, and you will, that’s for sure. By following these checks, you can ensure that you don’t fall into a slump.