Quitting At Work, and Normalizing Burnout Conversations

We should empower ourselves to express feelings of burnout, and permanently retire beliefs that equate burnout with being unfit for the job.

Quitting At Work, and Normalizing Burnout Conversations
Photo by Elisa Ventur / Unsplash

I Quit A Work Project... And I Felt like Sh*t

Several months ago, I took on a large project at work. In summary, my task was to:

  • Migrate the data within ~25 columns from one table, and split them between 2 new tables. There were over 650,000 discrete records that would be affected.
  • Update all related business logic within dozens of files in the backend, so that they read from the 2 new tables, no longer the old.
  • Update all related tests.

Huge task. But I was excited; I had several team members available to help if I got stuck, so I believed I would just advance systematically through each part of the project.

Things Get Messy

I was wrong. Even though I divided the work into parts and sections that made sense implementation-wise, I ended up with an enormous pull-request that had over 100 commits, 77 changed files and 60+ comments.

So many parts of the app were broken. So I put my head down and fixed each break, only to have other parts break in turn. I kept going, but by this time, I was not enjoying the process anymore. I ran out of bandwidth for my other responsibilities (like reviewing my teammates’ work, or fulfilling open source duty). This one project consumed me.