Creating the space for effective work
In June 2016, my team at Dropbox were 7 months into a project that was replacing the core foundations of how sharing content works. We were about to ship this work on 5 platforms (web, Windows, macOS, iOS and Android) at once and it hadn’t quite hit me that this was a big release with some pretty hairy problems to solve and coordinate.
We were sprinting the last miles of a marathon and it felt unsustainable. I was stressed. The team was stressed. But you push through it, get that last bug fixed, and celebrate the feeling of shipping your work to millions of people. Right?
Once a project has shipped, you may find the cost of the effort hits you and you need to take a break. You’ve gone way past toughing it out and those few late nights have turned into a few-too-many. You’re tired, mentally fatigued, and the well of creativity is dry.
This is called burn out.
It’s something that happens in tech companies fairly often and maybe you’ve experienced this yourself.
So, how can we avoid it, or at least, put in some measures to reduce the likelihood of it happening? It’s worth mentioning that I’m a designer so my take on this is slanted that way but I hope it’s generic enough to be applied to other disciplines.