I love being a web designer and I’m incredibly thankful that I decided to join this industry many years ago. Still, despite my love of this profession, there have been a number of times during my career when my passion has waned and I’ve found myself simply going through the motions instead of fully applying myself to my work. This scenario is likely familiar to many of my fellow web designers. It is called burnout.
Burnout is a very real challenge that we face as web professionals. The same processes that help us complete projects successfully can also contribute to us falling into a routine and hitting autopilot on our work. Sometimes, an overload of work can force you to fall into a routine and become a production line in order to meet deadlines. Other times, a lack of variety and excitement can lead to apathy with burnout not far behind.
Whenever I have started to experience burnout in my career, thankfully I have recognized the situation and been able to work to resolve the problem. In this article, I will share some of what I have found helpful in rekindling my passion for web design.
Talk To Your Peers
If anyone can understand your feelings of burnout, it is fellow web professionals. They have likely experienced something very similar and they may be able to give you advice on how to handle the situation. Sometimes, simply talking to others is the catalyst you need to break out of a funk and get excited about your work again.
Attending a web conference is one of the best ways to meet and interact with other web professionals. Listening to presentations from some of our industry’s best and brightest, and then being able to discuss that content with fellow attendees at lunch or at an after-conference party, always gets my creative energies flowing. I have never returned to the office after a conference and not been full of fresh ideas and excited to get back to work! Of course, conferences do not happen all the time, nor are they inexpensive to attend.
If you cannot go to a conference for one reason or another, then local meet-ups are another way you can connect with your peers.
If there are no groups that meet currently in your area then consider organizing a new group by reaching out to some other designers or agencies, choosing a time and place to meet, and starting a meet-up group yourself.
Take A Break
I remember speaking with a web designer I had collaborated with on a few projects about a sabbatical that he took a while back. He had felt himself burning out and decided that he wanted to take six months totally away from his job. Now, few of us can just walk away from our work for half a year, but he planned it out and made preparations so that he could make it happen. He looked hard at his budget and made some changes so he could save some money and give himself a cushion that would allow him to go without any income during his time off. He admitted to me that it was difficult, but workable, and he did take that time off after about a year of working and saving.
During his sabbatical, he surfed, he read books (not ones about web design), took a cooking class, and, above all, he stayed away from work. No checking emails or calling into the office. He truly took time away, and he said that it was wonderful – not only the time during this sabbatical, but also the moment when he returned to work. He was full of new ideas, refreshed and invigorated. He also reported to me that he had a new outlook on his work and on potential burnout. Having taken the steps to make his sabbatical happen, he now knew that should he ever hit that wall of burnout again, he could find a way to take some significant time off to get back on track.
If you are experiencing burnout, be sure to use your vacation time effectively. If that time is not enough, consider taking a more significant break. It may not be easy to manage, but with some proper planning, you can find a way to make it work.
About six years ago, I began teaching website design and front-end development at my state university. When I took the position, I thought that it would be a refreshing change of pace that would allow me to share my knowledge and experience in a whole new way. The reality of what I got out of the experience far exceeded my expectations going in.
For me, teaching helped me remember the energy I had when I first started in this industry. It’s easy to let the weight of project deadlines, client problems, and the day-to-day challenges of the job drown the sense of enthusiasm and excitement you had when you were working on websites in the early days of your career. I see that energy in my students and it is infectious. You can’t help but have it seep back into your work as well!
f you cannot find a position teaching at a school, you can still be a mentor to new web professionals. Consider adding an internship program at your company and allow those web designers just entering the industry to benefit from your years of experience, while you benefit from their enthusiasm for their newly chosen profession!
Take On A Passion Project
Few of us in the web industry truly get to choose the projects that we work on. If you work for an agency, you have to work on the projects that the agency closes and which are assigned to you. If you are an in-house resource, you work on the projects that your company needs completed. Even if you run your own company, you still have bills to pay and, sometimes, you take the projects that you have to – and it is not always the work that you’d like to be doing.
My first job in the web industry was working for a company that made websites for small real estate companies. That is all we did. Day in and day out, I worked on real estate sites. As you can imagine, it became pretty monotonous pretty quickly.
Do Some Good
While projects you have a personal attachment to can absolutely help rekindle your passion for web design, so can working on projects that help make a real, positive difference in people’s lives. Putting your skills to use in the service of a non-profit organization is a wonderful way to do this.
Think about the charitable organizations in your area that could use some web design assistance. While large, well-established (and well-funded) charities likely have marketing teams and budgets, smaller organizations, like animal shelters or church groups, probably do not. Those are groups where your work can really make a difference and where you can apply your passion for your profession to affect positive change in your community.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 pound sirloin steak
- 35-40 ounces DeLallo Vodka Sauce (it’s about 1½ jars)
- 2-3 large zucchini (or you could use regular pasta, but zucchini is so good!)
- Heat the butter in a large heavy duty skillet over medium low heat until lightly browned but not black (this just adds flavor to the steak).
- Cut the steak into bite sized pieces. Turn the heat up (higher heat is good!) and add the steak to the butter in the skillet. Let the steak sit in the pan for about a minute without stirring – this helps it get a nice sear on one side, like you see in the picture. Flip the steak pieces and cook for another minute or two, until both sides are well-seared. This should only take 2-3 minutes – because of the size of the steak pieces, you really only need to sear the outside and the insides will continue to cook just enough once you remove from the pan.
- Remove the skillet from heat, transfer the steak to a bowl, and wipe the skillet with a paper towel to remove excess grease. Add the sauce to the pan. Stir in the steak and simmer for 5-10 minutes while you prepare the zucchini noodles or pasta.
- Spiralize or cut the zucchini into noodles, or cook the pasta, depending on what you’re using. Top with the sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan and parsley. Serve immediately.
Zucchini noodles are notorious for getting watery once you add sauce to them, but I haven’t had any problems as long as I eat this right away. The leftovers will get some excess moisture, but you can either just stir it up like in the last picture, or store the noodles and sauce separately.