The life of a creative can be pretty hectic, especially when you're balancing a full time gig filled with meetings and project deadlines as you burn the midnight oil working to create your own company. The stress of being pulled in so many different directions can be exhausting. So here are 5 tips to avoid burnout...
There’s a sense of pride when you’ve knocked out everything on your "to-do" list or even gotten ahead of schedule. That great feeling can easily be washed away with guilt when you begin to fall behind schedule. But let's face it... there are only 24 hours in a day, which means a few tasks may not be completed on your to-do list.
The reality is that no one can do it all. Instead of trying to do it all, learn to prioritize. It’s more important that you get the most important projects completed. In other words, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
Try this, write out your “to-do” list for the day. Highlight the 3 most important tasks and place them at the top of your list. Once those are complete, continue to move down the list based on priority. You may not complete everything but at least you’ll have the most important projects completed...which is always a relief.
2. Learn to say “no”
This tip isn’t always easy but it is needed. Creatives can’t be everything or do everything for everybody. It’s impossible...so learn to say, “no.”
- Do you want to be in debt for the rest of your life?
- Do you enjoy being exhausted all the time?
- Do you like working for free?
- Do you feel good when people take advantage of your work?
Is the answer “no” to any of these questions? Good. So practice saying “no.” Begin to limit the freebies that you provide for your church fundraiser, auntie, and friends. People who request your work know the value of your art and should be willing to invest in it. Find the right balance between helping a friend versus overextending. Balance is key.
For some, you may not be overextended in the professional arena but more so in your personal life. You may be expected to be the "go-to" babysitter, personal chauffeur, or the local apartment mover to friends and family. Not only is this exhausting, you can start to resent your loved ones because you never learned to say "no," to these requests.
Setting boundaries is not a sign of selfishness. Healthy boundaries help maintain relationships free of resentment and exhaustion. It keeps you sane and gives you time to work on things that deserve your attention.
A lot of creatives split their time between a full time job and a handful of side hustles... the time that’s left over is devoted to your craft. Burning the midnight oil can lead to exhaustion and burnout so let’s start with the obvious. Get some sleep!
#TeamNoSleep can lead to irritability, illness, and crappy work. Making the choice to run on fumes may seem ideal but eventually your body will break down. Try to disconnect and have alone time, even if it’s only for an hour. The key to disconnecting is removing your distractions like your phone, social media, or whatever else that gets in the way. Use at least 30-60 minutes to refuel by reading a book, journaling, or catching up with a friend. You should have at least one hour that refuels you, which leads to the next point...
4. Schedule Your Self-Care
Creatives have a mile long to-do list and self-care tends to fall to the bottom of that list. In order to have longevity, self-care needs to be a priority. A simple way to integrate self care into your routine is by adding an appointment to your calendar. Once a week, make sure that at least 30-60 minutes are devoted to activities that are energizing.
New to self-care? Here’s an easy way to think of it. Everyone has things that are considered as energy “gainers” and “drainers.” Either things will fuel you or deplete your energy levels. Usually energy drainers are boring tedious projects that you don’t enjoy while energy gainers are dinners with friends, time in your art studio, or a quiet night at home. Regardless, you need to find the things that refuel you before you burnout. Prevention is the key to avoiding burnout.
5. Meet with a Therapist
As a creative, you pour your heart into your work. Whether you’re performing on stages or creating art in galleries, the vulnerability used to create can be exhilarating for you. But it can also be devastating when your creations are undervalued and misunderstood. Such intimacy and personal connection to your craft takes an emotional toll that doesn’t happen the same way in corporate positions. So reach out to a therapist who can help support your emotional wellness.
Before you roll your eyes, consider the fact that people in creative professions are known to experience higher numbers of mood disorders like depression and anxiety. While everyone may not relate to this experience, it is common among creatives. Sadly, the stigma of seeking therapy can be intimidating for some. But with the right support, you can learn how to handle the pressures of being a creative entrepreneur. An hour of therapy each week can make a world of difference (speaking from experience)… Therapy can be your hour to recenter your thoughts and reenergize.
It’s obvious that this list could be much longer but these 5 tips are key to avoiding burnout. So get creative and figure out what works for you. Just remember that you don’t have to do it all and it’s okay to take a moment to step back and breathe.