April 18, 2020

How to bring an idea to life while being burned out?


Hi there

I'm a developer, and there's this idea for a SaaS product that i have been working on. Nothing that i can bring to customers yet, but i am confident there is a market for it:

  • i've started building it because my team of 20 people needed it
  • and have since talked about it to a few other teams from other companies that were pretty excited about it

My issue is, I've been going through a burnout for the past 6 months, and can't find the energy to pursue this development without further damaging my mental health.
I have considered outsourcing, but can't settle on a proper way to go about this.

Basically: i'm mentally frozen and can't figure out how to move on with this project that i really believe in.

How would you proceed in such a case ?

I appreciate any advice, thanks !

  1. 8

    take a fucking break.


    it's entirely okay to do just that!

    1. 4

      I second this. Take a break!

      (P.S. 8bit, don't burn out on Indie Hackers. I've seen that happen a lot, too 😉)

      1. 1

        appreciate the call out here! i have a really good cadence where i can take breaks for a week at a time...

        ... so, this week i'll probably take a step back... hang out with my community and new customers that i'm onboarding this week... and then, come back next week!

        i have a pretty nice cadence that i'm building up... but, the reminder is spot-on!

    2. 1

      thanks for the reply, really appreciate it !

      1. 1

        :) of course.

      2. 1

        of course. i love it!

  2. 3

    I love that you've found something that you're passionate about!
    The fact that you are self-aware of mental health and burnout is even more impressive!
    I'll say a couple of things:

    1. Find clients that will pay when it's done - I've written about it here - https://jonathanoron.substack.com/p/sell-the-feature-before-you-build
    2. Start from a services/manual offering and then automate as you go. DO NOT build the perfect Saas and then "launch". @8bit has a GREAT post about his Notion MVP.
    3. Pace yourself - it's a marathon, not a sprint!
    4. Write openly and candidly to the community, the love and support here are rare and inspiring!

    Feel free to reach out if you need an adrenalin shot,

    1. 2

      thank you for the great advices !
      i'll definitely take a look at the content you've recommended.

  3. 3

    This is a huge problem for me too. I will work on a project really hard for 2-3 months and then have to stop because continuing with hurt my mental health. In fact, the general pattern on my github activity shows that I do a ton of work for 3 months and then take a 2-3 month break. I've always been very cyclical like that - so I definitely understand where you're coming from.

    Some of the things that I've learned that have helped me:

    • Go outside and take a walk. Get off of the computer. In fact, take 2 or 3 days away from all devices - including your phone.
    • Read a book (get your mind off of the project for a while)
    • Talk to people. There are a ton of people in this community who are willing to jump on a hangouts meeting for 30 minutes or so and just talk about struggles that you're both going through.
    • If you code in your day job, tacking on a coding side project means that you're probably coding 12+ hours a day. This is the main thing that burns me out. My life has to mean something than just coding - so I don't spend all of my time coding my side projects.

    I've realized that burnout is my body trying to tell me that I'm sick of coding. I really enjoy what I do, but I can't do it every waking hour of the day without it mentally messing with me.

    1. 2

      thank you for taking the time to answer, it means a lot
      i can definitely relate ! i see other devs i know get to this burnout stage too. don't know if it's a sectorial thing but it's kind of scary for the long run tbh

      1. 1

        Hey I weirdly enough stumbled upon a video that, I think, frames this nicely. It put things into perspective for me and I thought you might like to check it out too.


  4. 2

    In the past few months I'm not forcing myself to work anymore, nor I have a fixed work schedule.
    I just start my day and say it would be cool if I could do all those features today, if not, it's fine.

    The results? In the past 3 months I finished a complete rewrite of the front-end of my analytics app, added tons of new features, published a new landing page (still WIP, but great progress on it), create several new systems for improved customer support, email handling, payment handling and other small changes.

    Deep inside I know when I should be working and what I should be working on. Also, having customers that ask for updates and is really helpful, especially when you promised in advance that you will deliver.

    Just set a deadline, make it public and internally you will make it work. If you don't make it, don't punish yourself for it, but think why you didn't make it and what you want to acomplish by completing your goal.

    By not forcing myself to work I ended up being a lot more productive than I was, sometimes working until 5AM and being excited while working (and yes, I do get enough sleep, if I wake up at 2PM 😅).

    What else I do is just work whatever I want to work on. It's a lot better to improve a not-so-important feature than to not improve anything.
    Did I spend 30minutes to make the Buy now button look juicy and clickable? Yes I did. Does it help in any way? No. Do I regret it? No:
    userTrack analytics bounce button

    1. 2

      so your suggestion is basically "cut yourself some slack". i'll definitely try that: i've been feeling guilty on the lack of progress i've made these past months, and that definitely translates.

      nice work on the button btw.

  5. 1

    Hey, just go outsourcing. I totally feel your pain. I've been working non-stop for the last 2 years and didn't have a break. And also I had a great idea for development for IoT. So what did I do, a friend of mine recommended reading the article with tips on how to find the right developer company. It saved my time and found the company really fast.

    Also, you don't have to do all the work yourself, just hire an assistant who will help you.

    If you want to read the article, share the link here https://orangesoft.co/blog/9-tips-on-how-to-choose-the-best-app-developer

    1. 2

      Thanks for the reply.

      That is the solution I've settled upon.
      I don't like it because I've worked with contractors before, and believe it'll bite me later on, but i figure it's better than doing nothing.

      Do you mind dropping a link to what you've been working on ?
      Good luck to you

      1. 1

        Yes, I understand what you are talking about, you can trust only a few companies but sometimes you should risk. I think your emotional condition and health are more important than anything else. It's better to lose some money than your health.

        I can't share the link right now because my protect is still in development, it's kinda huge. But when everything will be done, I'll definitely share it with you. Good luck1