Game Dev Burnout – 5 Signs You Might Need A Break
Burnout is a massive problem in any tech related industry but especially game development we’re going to talk about five signs that you might be getting burned out coming up. What’s up guys, Tim Ruswick here and today we’re talking about burnout. If you’re new to the channel we always post videos like this daily about motivation marketing and game development so if that’s something you want to hear about please hit subscribe and click on the bell to make sure you get notified when we post new videos. But today specifically we’re going to talk about five signs that you need a break because you might be might be getting burnt out.
For me I’ve been burnt out multiple times a lot of it has been you know because I’m so obsessive and I work on things way too long and way too much and then I get burnout. And I’ve noticed there are some actual physical symptoms physical and mental symptoms to when I’m getting burnt out. And I want to share some of those with you guys today because I think they’re really important.
So the first one that I think is the most imperative rising level of anxiety anxiety can be caused by a lot of stuff right. It can be caused by stress, can be caused by relationships, can be caused by a lot of external factors. But I’ve noticed specifically like when I’m starting to get burnt out I just I have more and more anxiety about my project. When I’m thinking about it when I’m like I have to get to work on it when I wake up in the morning it’s just like this rising level of anxiety.
And at first I didn’t notice that I didn’t even really realize that I had anxiety, I just felt like I was I don’t know stressed or like somehow less prepared for the day or I didn’t feel like doing much but when I finally identified it as like anxiety it helps a lot because it helped me see and after I went through a couple these cycles of burnout I could see very clearly that okay my any levels are rising this could be a sign that I could get burned out you know so anxiety is number one.
Number two is lack of productivity. I noticed a lot when I’m on the verge of burning out when I’m super obsessive about a game, I start being less and less productive. And that this can take a range of different forms. One it can be actually sitting down to work in the game and just kind of ignoring it and up on YouTube or whatever. It could be just actually working on the game but just you can’t get your your brain in it you can’t get focused.
Like that to me is help has worked a lot or has happened a lot when I’m just working on the game it’s just I can’t get any code written like it just it doesn’t it doesn’t work and then I’ll write a piece and I’ll get rid of it. And it’s just I noticed this now as a symptom that things might be going bad like I might need to break right. I didn’t notice it at first and I would and then I would feel guilty that I spent six hours sitting down didn’t get anything done I’ll be angry at myself and then that would rise my level of anxiety and the whole loop would start over again.
So watch out for that if you feel like you’re getting less and less productive pay attention to how you feel pay attention you might need to break you know. So number three, pessimism. So I like to think of myself as a super positive person I generally am I have a very positive outlook on the world.
I think you know competition is a good thing I think I can work with all different people I think I’d love to collaborate and work and build something awesome with a bunch of people, but when I start to get pessimistic I know something’s up. So for me it might be well you know no one’s really gonna buy this game anyway. Or I really you know this guy can’t help me why should I talk to him.
Or whatever like these pessimistic feelings these feelings of dread these feelings of like shit’s not going to work or what am I doing why am I even doing this I don’t feel worthy. All that stuff that could be a sign of burning out. So if you feel that way again kind of like pay attention to what you’re thinking what you’re feeling why you’re feeling that way because for me this is a big sign of burning out. Four, and this is kind of related to the previous three, insomnia.
So whenever my anxiety levels go up my sleep goes down. So I think insomnia is a direct result of probably the anxiety but I also noticed that when I when I stopped sleeping good. Because usually I’m pretty deep sleeper I can sleep straight through for eight to nine hours every night under normal stress conditions. So when I stopped being able to sleep and I stopped being able to get to sleep when I lay in lay in bed three four or five hours without going to sleep just awake staring at the ceiling thinking I know something’s up.
Something is bothering me. And I need to get to the center of that because I need my sleep and I need my life under control. And for a while again I didn’t even notice that I didn’t pay attention to when I didn’t have a good night’s sleep I would just wake up the day next day and be like oh I didn’t sleep that great you know and I would just go on with my day and then it would happen again and it happened again. But pay attention to that.
One of the things I’ve done is like I keep a journal every day I write down all of the stuff that I do and the way that I feel and things that I did and you know my goals and that stuff. Actually in the Enjoy Game Dev Conference that I just attended with Chris de Leon which is awesome by the way, there’s a speaker that gave a presentation and she recommended that you do a thought journal, and I asked what was the difference between a thoughtful in a regular journal, and she said to separate out thoughts from feelings and I thought that was really an interesting point because I never actually recorded my thoughts I recorded like my feelings.
And I think feelings are important too, but thoughts I think it maybe help you identify pessimism and and that kind of thing. And also if you’re looping negative thoughts right like, there’s no point in doing that so so getting to the root cause of that can be really important. But keeping a journal keeping track of like how well you slept in and all that stuff can be really important because then you learn if you’re on a cycle if you’re doing a pattern. It also made me pay attention to how while I was sleeping. My anxiety levels and that kind of thing stuff that I never paid attention to before I pay attention to now because I had to write it down.
So it helped me kind of figure out when I was on the verge of burn out. Number five, I think this was probably the biggest symptom for me and I think it is a result of all of these things combined and that is avoidance. So when I’m on the verge of being burnt out or or I’m burnt out, I avoid my computer like I literally do not want to sit at my computer I will do everything in my power to not sit at my computer. I will set up meetings I will go hang out I’ve driven hundreds of miles on trips to go places I’ve played video games I’ve even I’ve legit done this, I’ve even like went in the living room or something and just sat sat there.
Don’t bring my phone don’t bring anything I sat on my phone for like six hours before and living room too or on the porch or something. But like I know something’s wrong when I’m in those modes where I’m just in avoidance mode I do not want to deal with it. And that is a big major factor of I might be on the verge of burnout for me. But also I think it’s the result of like this anxiety this insomnia this pessimism this lack of productivity, like all those things combined turns into this avoidance for me and I just want to avoid this completely, I don’t want to deal with it.
Now those are the five signs you need to break. But I have noticed that I talked about this in my burnout video which I’ll link but once you’re in burnout it’s too late man you just you got to take a break, you got it you gotta back off. But avoiding burnout can be done. When I’m in this mode and I’m not quite burnt out yet but I feel it coming on, taking a week or a couple weeks off seeing things even I like to change scenery I like to like go places where I can’t bring my computer because you know especially if the computer is a point of anxiety at that point go places where I can’t bring my computer where— if I can go to a place that it’s completely new to me I’ve never been there I got to figure out how to navigate everything that I experience is new every person that I mean is new that tends to help me and rejuvenate me a little bit.
Experiences that take me out of my head really help really well so like I went camping with a bunch of friends which is really helpful because you know I can’t when I’m with a bunch of people and we’re all hanging out like it’s hard for me to go internal when you know I’m constantly being forced to interact and do stuff.
So those are like five things that five signs I think you need to break a couple reasons maybe help you get out of it. Check out my burnout video if you want to figure out ways to avoid it and go through all that but like I said it’s it’s really hard to get past once you’re in it. So if you guys have any tips on burnout or anything like that how you’ve overcome it or how you’ve got away from it, please leave them below I love to hear you guys tips as always this is a discussion, it’s not a dictation so I want to hear from you guys. But until next time once again I’m Tim Ruswick and I’ll see you next time.