A dog sitting in a room sipping a coffee. The room is currently on fire. He smiles and says “This is fine.” Clearly, this is not fine.
Don’t pretend that things are fine.

Don’t Die: Mental Health in Software Engineering

Paul Cullen Rowe
2 min readApr 12, 2023

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I’m sad when I see my friends, my colleagues, and my own reports, burning themselves out in this industry and killing their passion for something they love doing. I’ve even done it to myself a few times.

We work well when we’re happy and having fun. We work poorly when we’re not. Simple as that.

Software engineering is hard, with lots of pressure. There’s no need to make it even harder for yourself. The stress will bleed into your work, into your life, into your relationships.

So here’s the greatest piece of advice I’ve ever received:

Don’t set yourself on fire to keep everyone else warm.

You shouldn’t work into the night to get something done by the end of a sprint.

You shouldn’t work weekends because you feel you’re behind.

You shouldn’t fill every working minute with additional work just because having a moment to relax gives you anxiety.

You shouldn’t feel the need to be as fast as your teammate who is a supersonic coder.

You shouldn’t own the entire burden of your team missing a deadline, even if it was your task that caused the team to miss it.

You shouldn’t build in a silo if you’re stuck.

You shouldn’t cause yourself undue mental stress just so the client can do a thing two days earlier.

You shouldn’t delay that trip you want to take.

You shouldn’t have much PTO left at the end of the year, if any.

You shouldn’t worry about taking too many days away at once (your team could probably use some time away from you anyway).

You are a person, not a machine.
You are a responsible adult and can be trusted that you’re doing your best.
You need time to breathe, to sleep, to think.
Your manager and your team should have your back if you are having difficulty finding that time.

Book the trip.

Paul Rowe is a Director of Engineering at Method, where we strategize, design, architect, and build custom software. Follow him on LinkedIn!

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Paul Cullen Rowe

Director of Engineering at Method. Adrenaline Junkie. Build, Break, Boom.