Feeling overwhelmed and like a phony Chill out!

Published on 29 August 2013

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the amount of new technology which is coming out all the time? The new framework to do this, and the new improved way of doing that. The new blog posts about this and that, the never ending Pluralsight courses by John Sonmez? It can be too much!

Recently I’ve been feeling this way as well as losing the motivation I use to have to code. I’ve not lost the joy of coding or problem solving but the combination of being overwhelmed by all the bleeding edge technology and information coming out of the developer community and in contrast the recurring day to day coding on brownfield code bases running VS2010 (and every so often VS2005) can get you down.

Recently I’ve got to a point in my life/career where I feel like a bit of a phoney. I’ve worked very hard to get where I am today and at only 30 years old I potentially still get seen by some as the opinionated upstart when I’m not. I know I have a lot more to learn but I think everyone does whether that’s new processes in your day to day life, understanding ways of doing tasks in new positions etc. You should always be learning and adapting.

The realisation of trying to learn everything is just not practical. Reading code is a great way to learn new techniques which you can apply to your day to day developer life but learning the ins and outs of every framework is just not possible. The other aspect of learning is you can run through a Pluralsight course on this or that but if you’re not using it every day all day at work or at least a couple of hours in the evenings each week on a personal project you’ll very quickly forget it. This, I think, is my main frustration.

So as I see it there are a couple of ways to solve this issue which range from minor to life changing. You can ignore all new technology, carry on with your day to day life, not do anything outside of work; essentially put your head in the sand. This will however leave your skills becoming slowly stagnant and make future career progression hard. On the complete other end of the scale you can move jobs, go and work for a company where they are using the latest and greatest, always starting new greenfield projects, this will help improve your skill set and keep it up to date but that will impact your life completely which isn’t always the answer either. Changing jobs, whether forced through redundancy or by choice, is a big change!

So what can you do? Learn every 3rd new technology which appears on the Pluralsight new course listing? This isn’t practical. Maybe try and influence technology at work? Spend time during the day (lunch time, 30mins before heading home) reviewing new technology? Both of these are possible but will depend on personal situation.

I’ve been thinking over this conundrum recently, and the near future birth of my first child has helped my thinking on this subject, the biggest issue is I’ve been putting too much pressure on myself. Too much pressure to learn new technologies, too much pressure to read every blog post about every technology. Also when I do look at a technology and write pet/personal projects such thoughts as “it needs to be production ready code straight away”, “you need to get it done now”, “it needs to be perfect first time” aren’t the thoughts which will aid motivation but in fact demotivate.

So if you find yourself in a similar situation as I have recently and don’t know what the answer is then use the realisation that has only hit home to me recently; chill out! Don’t put yourself under unrequired pressure. Yes, continue to read blog posts. Yes, continue to play with new technologies as/when you can … just don’t pressure yourself into having to do it all the time as it can be harmful as well as beneficial.