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Burned Out and Happy?

Posted by Bjarni RĂșnar on April 6, 2019

Dear Mailpile Users and Backers,

I just wanted to post a short note, to explain why development has been so slow for the last year - or longer. The long and the short of it is, I'm burned out, and this has been the case for quite some time.

I care deeply about this project, but it really is too big for one person and I haven't successfully built a team to support me. That's not to discount the contributions and efforts of our community, but at the end of the day I've been the one responsible for keeping the ball rolling. I review the pull requests, I respond to issues, I file the tax returns, I try to spend your donations wisely... and I write most of the code. Doing this well is a lot of work!

This responsibility, combined with frustration over how slow progress has been, has really worn me down. When I'm feeling down, I'm not very productive, leading to a vicious cycle of feeling bad about a the lack of progress and then becoming incapable of making progress as a result.

It's not good.

It took me a while to realize what was going on, to realize I was burned out.

There is also a money dimension here; although I cannot say thank you enough for all the donations and support from our community, the fact is that Mailpile has not been able to pay me a decent wage for my work, ever. I know my value on the job market, and I've been underpaid since day one. That was my choice and I don't regret it; but it's still become harder and harder for me to justify. I have a family now and I've drained most of my savings trying to get 1.0 out the door.

So, I'm giving myself a break and focusing on other things for a while.

I've gotten a (part-time) job working with the fine folks at ISNIC, I'm working out regularly at the pool and I'm spending more time with friends and family. Life is good!

Now that I've accepted and embraced my burnout, I'm actually feeling pretty happy. Identifying a problem is the first step towards a resolution, and I'm already well on my way with steps two and three.

So to be 100% clear: Mailpile is not dead!

Far from it, I'm way too proud of this app to just walk away and let it die. But for now, Mailpile has been demoted to a part time job at most, and a beloved hobby at worst. Considering how unproductive I had become, you may not even notice any difference...

Finally, if reading this gives you the urge to help out, here are a few things you can do for me and for Mailpile:

  1. Use Mailpile! It's not perfect, but it's pretty great.
  2. Tweet or toot what you like about it... I'm listening!
  3. Help make our Community Discourse a useful, welcoming place.
  4. Donate: As always, I'll do my best to spend it wisely.

Thanks for reading!

-- Bjarni



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