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While digging through some old work chat logs (from 2011, more than 10 years ago!), I found some interesting advice I was giving to some junior developers in our company about how to handle and prioritize the increasing workload (number of tasks) they were being given. I thought it might be worth sharing. The below are all messages from me, extracted from the chat logs, with a light touch of translation for those parts in italics, since like most informal discussions at offices here, a lot of it was in Taglish.

I was discussing with someone the other day

the problem of being "capable"

it's like when you're capable... the tendency is to give you the more difficult tasks

or to give you more tasks

because you're capable

then your output is still good

so you get even more tasks or more difficult ones

and so on

until you get to the point of burnout

or incompetence


anyway, the reason our burnout rate is high

we have a high level of being "capable" here, on average

law on promotions -> you get promoted to your level of incompetence

"the price for being the best is always having to be the best"

at some point, you have to decide for yourself what your limit is i guess

what is a good equilibrium for you

it isnt immediately obvious kasi that you have to manage your tasks also

some people are like keep 'em coming

i complain all the time

i dont mind having a lot of tasks, but i'm not going to promise that I can do them all on time lol

sometimes if I'm asked "can you still take this up?" i'll answer "let's try it, then i'll raise if i can't handle it"

i'm not going to say "yes" if the answer is "i'm not sure"

we just do try-catch

when everything is urgent...

if you have a lot of tasks, and all of them are urgent or high prio, you can make a list

then everytime a new thing comes in, refer to the list and ask where it should be on that priority list

you have to communicate that there's a cost everytime some new thing comes in

yeah, it's hard to talk about priorities in isolation

it should really be compared to other tasks

if they can't prioritize, that means it's up to me, even better!

i'll treat as low pri the ones I don't want to do lol

There was a follow-up comment later about how my advice was difficult to pursue because I was speaking from a position of seniority where other people were more likely to give credence to what I say, while junior developers might not have that privilege. I replied that I've been that way since I was a newbie developer, that I'm always complaining if the workload is too much. I think the main issue is that junior developers don't always feel that they have a choice in the matter, that they can push back. And while that may or may not be true, looking for a new job/position that actually respects your inputs and your limits should always be a choice that you should at least consider.

Related: Burnout

Thu, Feb. 23, 2023, 5:12 p.m. / / blog / #work-advice / Syndicated: mastodon twitter / 573 words

Last modified at: Feb. 23, 2023, 5:42 p.m. Source file

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