IT Burnout: What It Is and How To Solve It

By Carrie Dagenhard   (Tech Writer)

Feeling drained and overwhelmed at work? You could be experiencing IT burnout. Here’s what that means, why it happens, and how to overcome it.


As an IT professional, you’ve always been committed to your career. You choose IT because you’re passionate about technology and enjoy the satisfaction of solving complex problems. But lately, you’ve been less enthusiastic about your job. You’re more restless and easily frustrated, less productive, and often struggle to concentrate. And while you used to be ambitious and engaged at work, you now spend much of the day feeling tired and overwhelmed.

What’s changed? And why is this becoming such a common narrative?


For many years, IT pros accepted long hours and grueling workloads as part of the territory. Recently, though, in the wake of the pandemic, other global events, and additional pressures due to an increased reliance on tech, many people in IT have reached a breaking point.

IT burnout has become a serious and pervasive issue affecting teams at organizations of all sizes. And whether you’re feeling burnt out yourself or noticing signs of burnout among your IT team, it’s crucial to understand why it’s happening and how to solve it. 

Today, we’re sharing some of the known causes of IT burnout and a few steps to help you recover.

What Is IT Burnout? 

IT burnout is a combination of physical and mental exhaustion stemming from persistent and poorly managed workplace stress in an IT environment.IT Burnout 2

Most people experiencing burnout report feeling emotionally exhausted, physically fatigued, and creatively drained. Similar to depression, burnout can make people less interested in work and the things they used to enjoy in their off-hours. You may feel pessimistic and cynical about your job, which impacts your productivity and effectiveness in your duties.

IT burnout can jeopardize your career and negatively impact personal and professional relationships if you don’t address it. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to overcome burnout. But, first, you need to understand its root cause.

What Causes IT Burnout?

There are a few things that can lead to burnout in an IT role:

Poor Work-Life Balance

IT is a demanding field. To succeed, you have to work quickly and keep up with an ever-growing backlog of tickets and user demands. You also have to be willing to regularly expand your skillset and deepen your understanding of various technologies. With so much on your plate, it can be challenging to step away at the end of the day. And when work creeps into your home life, it’s almost impossible to allow your brain to recover. This is why people often return to work after a weekend or vacation without feeling rejuvenated.

Unclear Duties Or Expectations

Poorly communicated job expectations are a common source of stress and discomfort at work. This is usually the result of inadequate onboarding, management oversight, ineffective collaboration technology, or all of the above. Not knowing what you need to do or how you need to do it can be overwhelming and inhibit productivity (which can, in turn, crush employees’ enthusiasm).

Toxic Work Environment

A toxic workplace is an environment where employees experience significant personal conflict. For example, employees may engage in cliques and gossip, experience bullying and harassment, be discouraged from taking breaks, or feel like they can’t speak their minds or provide feedback to leadership without being punished.

Lack Of Social Support

Feeling isolated at work, home, or both can contribute to stress and anxiety. If you don’t have someone to vent to, you’re more likely to internalize your negative feelings. For IT folks who are used to working in highly social team environments, working remotely can be especially tough — and even worse if you don’t have many people around who understand your work.

Improper Self-Care

Not getting enough sleep, eating poorly, not spending time with loved ones, and not participating in activities you enjoy can quickly deplete your mental and physical energy. When you don’t take care of yourself, it becomes impossible to properly manage the stressors in your life.

5 Steps You Can Take to Navigate and Solve IT Burnout

If you’re grappling with any of the above, there are a few things you can do to conquer your burnout and get back to feeling like yourself:

Set And Stick To Boundaries

Regardless of how much you have on your plate, commit to leaving work at work. Even if you’re working remotely, you should step away from your workstation and mute all work communication channels at the end of the day, during the weekend, and while you’re on vacation. If you’re grappling with overwhelming demands or unrealistic timelines, ask your manager what can be done to create a more feasible workload.IT Burnout 1

Talk To Your Manager

If you’re struggling, it’s essential you talk to your manager about how you’re feeling and what’s causing it. A good IT leader will be empathetic and work with you to overcome your burnout. In fact, raising your hand about issues you’re facing could help your manager identify and address challenges that impact the whole team, which will help everyone. For example, they may realize it’s time to implement a more robust helpdesk ticketing software to ease the administrative burden on everyone's shoulders.

Consider A Job Change

Some problems simply can’t be solved. And if you’re dealing with a toxic work environment, it’s unlikely to get better — at least not quickly enough to overcome existing burnout. If your job negatively affects your mental wellbeing, that’s a good indicator it’s time to start looking for a better career opportunity. (And, fortunately, with the tech talent shortage, there are plenty of job openings to consider.)

Seek Support

When you’re feeling down, it’s easy to isolate yourself from others. But this is precisely when you need your support system the most. Connect with colleagues and be open to their perspectives and advice. Reach out to friends and family, and make plans outside of work. Additionally, consider seeing a therapist or counselor who can help you manage your stress.

Commit To Healthier Habits

Commit to a regular bedtime and, if possible, put away all electronic devices at least thirty minutes before you go to sleep. Strive to add more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet, and try to get outdoors at least once a day. Sometimes even a fifteen-minute walk outside can significantly boost your mood and energy level.

IT burnout can be difficult to overcome, but it’s important to remember that you have options. By identifying the root cause of your burnout and addressing those issues, you can get back to your enthusiastic, balanced, and highly capable self.

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Carrie Dagenhard
By Carrie Dagenhard

Carrie specializes in technology storytelling while residing in the "Silicon Hills" of Austin, TX.