Burnout Presentation Slides

Recently I have delivering a presentation about the 12-stages of burnout at a few conferences and it seems to have been really useful to people. The presentation talks through the progressively worse stages and how to identify the symptoms and protect against them spiralling out of control. A bunch of folks have asked for the slides so I wanted to put them online. You can grab them here.

Also, a few weeks back I recorded a video going through the different stages with my ultra-low-tech approach to slides. You can watch it here – this should give you a gist of the talk and the core information in it.

Remember, the solution to burnout is to keep an eye out for each other in our communities. I got your back, dude!

  • http://identi.ca/notice/7175706 Jono Bacon (jonobacon) ‘s status on Wednesday, 29-Jul-09 00:47:29 UTC – Identi.ca

    […] Slides and video from my burnout presentation : http://www.jonobacon.org/2009/07/29/burnout-presentation-slides/ […]

  • Hans

    Very cool you bring this out in the open! Having suffered myself from a burnout, overcoming the shame and disbelieve anything could ever change is whats keeping allot of people at the bottom. If you feel your going out of control, don’t get it let worse and realize there is problem you can’t possible handle solely yourself. Seek help, talk to your friends, your doctor and step back for a while. Programming, hacking, etc should be fun, not a way to cannibalize yourself!

  • http://geekosophical.net Melissa

    One important thing I think you are missing there is “permission”.

    Permission to make mistakes. Permission to ask for help. Permission to prioritise work below family. Permission to be sick. Permission to take breaks.

    It is often not enough to assume that these sorts of permissions might be obvious or implied. Granting yourself permission is hard.

    Often you need to explicitly be given permission and it is important to know when to give it.

  • http://www.geekosophical.net/?p=306 Permissions » philosophical geekess

    […] thing I think his presentation is missing is Permissions. As I have commented on his latest blog post: One important thing I think you are missing there is […]

  • jono

    Thanks for the great input, Melissa. I think you are absolutely right.

    At the Community Leadership Summit we had interesting conversation about encouraging an atmosphere in which people can make mistakes and learn and rectify those mistakes. It affects all of us and I am certainly included and I think your comments on permissions reflect that sentiment.



  • http://q-funk.iki.fi Martin-Éric

    I think that too often, the expectations on newcomers are unrealistic, which easily leads to overly zealous admission processes that wear newcomers out and kill their enthusiasm for further involvement.

    The strongest example I can think is the Debian New Maintainer process. While one cannot deny the usefulness of the knowledge acquired through this rite of passage, the sheer amount and difficulty level of the tasks someone is expected to complete, at a stage where they cannot possibly have yet encountered every packaging situation or repository interaction case imaginable, is enough to discourage all but the utmost motivated people who truly intend on making a career in software development. Meanwhile, for average hobbyists who simply are keen on maintaining a few packages that nobody else could be bothered with packaging, NM is overkill and a very real deterrent to participation at Debian. By the time we add some developers’ insistence that settling for the lesser Debian Maintainer status is a piss-poor excuse for avoiding the NM process leading to the full Debian Developer status, we have a recipe for titanium-reinforced culture of systematic exclusion in place.

    Personally, while I’m involved at both Debian and Ubuntu, and while I firmly believe in the concept of Debian as the upstream for Ubuntu, I can clearly see how Debian’s “corporate culture” plays a large role in maintaining Debian’s reputation as a community with a strongly challenging lack of civility. On this particular point, I think that Ubuntu fares much better, which is perhaps why Ubuntu attracts a wider scope of individuals, both as developers and as users, which would also explain its wider adoption at large among the non-technical crowd.

  • http://identi.ca/notice/7204980 Mirsal Ennaime (mirsal) ‘s status on Wednesday, 29-Jul-09 12:56:52 UTC – Identi.ca

    […] Jono bacon burnout presentation slides http://www.jonobacon.org/2009/07/29/burnout-presentation-slides/ […]

  • http://jonathancarter.co.za Jonathan

    Thanks for this Jono, I think you do better speaking on this topic than your more generic community driven talks.

    Things like Herding Cats was ok, but explaining the Ubuntu community to the Ubuntu community was kind of… pointless.

    I hope we see more thought-provoking and introspective topics from your future talks as well!

  • http://www.linux-netbook.com/ rg

    Hi Jono,

    you’ve got my deepest respect for openly talking about burnout, depression, and your own personal experience. I watched your show on ustream.tv and can confirm what you said from my own experience. Thanks a lot for sharing and keep up your great work!

  • http://identi.ca/notice/7253384 Brion Vibber (brionv) ‘s status on Thursday, 30-Jul-09 14:51:02 UTC – Identi.ca
  • http://identi.ca/evan Evan Prodromou

    Very interesting slides, but they seem to be more about full-time jobs. Are the lessons really applicable to volunteers in Free Software or Free Culture projects?

  • https://launchpad.net/~mwhudson Michael Hudson

    I think this is an interesting point.

    When I saw Jono’s presentation, I had this strange sensation of some points applying very much to me and some not at all, and I think one of the reasons that some points didn’t apply is that I’ve always (or at least, for a very long time, since I was an undergrad at least) given myself permission to take time off, or possibly stronger: given myself orders to take time off.

    The other trap I’ve been lucky enough to not fall into is the “one big push will make it OK again” one. Never bought that.

  • http://fnords.wordpress.com/2009/07/31/burnout-and-technical-management/ On burnout and technical management « Seeing the fnords

    […] and technical management Posted July 31, 2009 Filed under: Computing, Ubuntu | Jono posted recently the slidedeck for his famous 12 stages of burnout presentation. I highly recommend this […]

  • http://amber@redvoodoo.org Amber Graner


    I like this presentation.

    I think Melissa’s point of permission is a must.

    Evan asked if your slides apply to volunteers in the F/OSS communities. Of course, burnout out happens in all communities Just because people aren’t getting paid doesn’t mean they don’t “work” hard on a project.

    Speaking as a volunteer if I did not make sure there was a balance and give myself permission to say no, I could very easily find myself on a path to burnout. I volunteer in several communities and not all involve open source and when I mentioned this talk to all those groups, they all felt the same way, “why haven’t we talked about this before?” So it is a topic that needs to be discussed so people know when they are feeling these things or see that someone else is they are not alone in dealing with it.

    Thanks again for the talk and sharing the slides!

  • But…

    Hmm. Those slides don’t describe “burnout”, they describe “most normal people’s mundane lives”.

  • Albert Hickey
    1. Odd Behaviour…

    I found No.8 Odd Behaviour interesting I have a theory that everybody has a fixed amount of ‘energy’. You use this energy to do your daily tasks and for the fun stuff. If your life is getting stressed and your feeling burned out then you need more energy to get through the day and have nothing left over for the fun stuff. When in this situation most people need to get energy back and the fastest and most direct way is to shut people out and stop doing things or giving of yourself.

    When somebody I know is acting odd or is a bit short with me then I usually look to understand what is going on in their life that is sapping them of their energy (assuming they’re not just pissed off with me).

    It’s at time like these that real friends will give some of their energy to help you through the hard times until you have spare energy again so you are in a position to start making a difference yourself.

  • http://www.miriamruiz.es/weblog/?p=600 Miriam Ruiz

    […] Jono Bacon made some really great slides about burnout last year, and I think it’s such an important topic that I want to bring it up again here. Scientific American MIND for June/July 2006 had a cover story on The Science of Burnout. Even though the article isn’t online, I was able to find a list of the 12 stages of the burnout cycle online. It has to be noted, however, that, according to Herbert Freudenberger and Gail North, the cycles don’t necessarily follow in order and some people skip steps or have more than one at a time. […]