Updates & Burn Out

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Sometimes you just need to take a step back and regroup. While this page has been quiet for a long time, I have in fact been quite busy.

What Has Been Going On?

April 2020 - January 2021

My last post (second post overall) was April 2020, and it is now February 2021. Eight months ago, I was feeling really motivated about blogging my work, and I was feeling pretty good about where I was going with my Discord bot (named Orbit). Fast forward a month from that post and everything began to fall apart.

I was still actively and rapidly working on the bot, but progress was spiraling out of control. There are several reasons that led to this (design changes, technical limitations, JavaScript, etc.), but ultimately these were irrelevant. What mattered is that development was slowing and being dragged out - I found myself spinning my wheels trying to add new features before properly implementing the previous ones. In addition to becoming increasingly technically frustrating, it completely halted my momentum with blogging. This was step one of a handful that paved the way to burning out.

"There is never enough time in the waking day to possibly do everything I want to do."

The semester eventually came and went, and while it was great (all things considered - remote instruction for the first time), using Discord and Orbit was massively underwhelming. I grossly overestimated the familiarity of Discord among my students or even their desire to use it). Additionally, once students started using Orbit frequently the bugs began to surface. Nothing was catastrophically bad, but I had hoped for higher engagement in Discord and certainly had hoped for a better bot experience. The semesters are always rough between lesson plans, grading, and office hours, but then throw in bot maintenance and it was a lot more work than anticipated. This was step two on the path to burning out.

Once the semester ended, I was excited to jump into all the side projects I had abandoned and to start all the new side projects I had conjured up during the semester (my list of ideas is far too large!). There is never enough time in the waking day to possibly do everything I want to do. I have done a generally poor job of managing myself in this regard; I am usually in a constant state of context switching between tasks, never committing enough time and energy to anything to properly see things through. I found myself wanting to work on things less and less, and about a week ago I had the realization of just how burned out over software I am. I still have dozens of ideas and projects that I want to work on, but finding the motivation is harder than ever. This was the third and final step to burning out.


One of my biggest issues is wanting to not just implement some piece of software, but also the underlying framework/engine. While this might be OK for some projects, trying to implement the foundation for everything I do is a distraction at best and a massive waste of time at worst. I spend far too much time trying to make my own frameworks and engines, so much so that I completely drop the idea of what I was trying to create in the first place. Throw in trying to do this for multiple, completely unrelated projects all at once, and literally nothing gets done. Not finishing a project can be discouraging, and not finishing many projects is that many times more demotivating.

"Ideas are fun to have, but it is too easy to have too many of them."

It is 2021 - I do not need to be digging the trenches. If I want to create a video game (which I do…) then I need to spend time learning an engine and not creating the engine. Creating the engine will have its merits and I know I would learn a ton… but I do not want, nor do I have a need, to create an engine. I need to remind myself that the engine is not the goal. Ultimately even if I do create one, then I still have not created a game. Could I create a game with my new engine? Of course. But how much time have I poured into it instead of directing that time and energy into something I was initially striving for? This applies to almost every piece of code I have written outside of work since 2018. Why am I wasting all this time building tools instead of creating usable software? The world today favors creators more than ever, you just need to leverage the resources out there.

Ideas are fun to have, but it is too easy to have too many of them.

What Comes Next?

This is always the golden question and always the hardest to answer. I know that I need to identify only one or two projects to continue with, and the rest will go into the archives. The Discord bot is something I am still very much interested in pursuing and I plan on a complete overhaul to move over to discord.py. The choice to initially go with discord.js (and thus node.js) was to learn JavaScript. I am very far from proficient, but not only have I learned a good bit of it, I now know that I do not enjoy coding in it. I have also gotten into DIY electronics/microcontrollers a good bit more over the past year and would like to continue tinkering. These will likely be my focus in the future, but I still need some time away before diving back in.

For now, I would like to continue blogging about tricks and techniques I have picked up at work over the past few months. I started a new job back in October doing systems analysis for combat systems and have been waist deep in Python and the popular data science stacks (NumPy, pandas, Jupyter, Bokeh, matplotlib, etc.) and have been exploring components in the greater ecosystem (dask, numba, scikit-learn). There is an overwhelming amount of software out there on this side of the industry, but I have been enjoying becoming more acquainted with it.

Until next time - it certainly will not be another 8 months!

If you have any questions or comments, open an issue!