Just recently, I woke up Sunday morning with a feeling of dread, thinking that it’s gonna be a long and busy week again at work (in the UAE the work week starts on Sundays and ends on Thursdays). I was still feeling so tired of last week’s work load and I felt like the weekend passed so quickly. I was sleepy all day and I just wanted to lie down in my bed and drift away to some place where there is more sleep than work.
But at the back of my head, I am worried. Why am I feeling this way? Am I tired of my work? Is there something wrong with me? Do I love my work no more? So I did a little bit of internet “research” and then I figured out that it’s not just me. There are other people who feel the same way too at some point of their career.
I figured out that this feeling is common among creatives and it’s called “creative burnout”.
As creatives, our number one asset is our mental energy, our creativity, and our physical energy. It is common among us to come into this state of burning out our energy and consuming all our creative juices. It is like a well that gets empty when continuously get used. And like a well, it takes time to replenish itself.
As I did my little internet “research”, I found some tips on how to get away or at least manage creative burnout, and the following points are the most common.
Take a break.
Everything that is too much is bad. In every work, it is necessary to take a break every now and then. And for us creatives, it helps replenish our creative juices.
This is proven as a personal experience. During my recent trip back home, I managed to go on a holiday in one of the provinces in the Philippines. This getaway really helped my creativity a lot. It brought up new ideas and it opened myself to new experiences.
Get a creative hobby that is not part of your work.
Doing the same thing 8 hours a day 5 days a week (or more if you’re a freelancer) will really make you tired of it. Its the same as eating the same dish everyday. So by having a creative hobby that’s not part of your work, you’re putting your attention to something new while staying creative at the same time. Play music, write stories, craft things, it’s all up to you.
Get enough sleep.
Yes. Sleep. The most heavenly word I love. Getting enough sleep relaxes your mind and body and by doing this you’ll eventually feel more alert, creative, and will have more new ideas.
Like the previous point, exercise is also important. We, creatives, spend most of our times sitting. Without exercise, our minds will perform half its normal capability. A simple 20 minute jog every other day will improve our body.
After surviving a creative burnout it doesn’t mean that you will not fall for it again. We are just human beings. We are not machines that can perform the same task over and over again. Pushing yourself at work will eventually bring you to another burnout. It is just up to you how you would avoid it. Here are some points that might help:
Change your work environment.
Is your workplace designed to how you like it to be? You might want to open up the curtains and let the light come in. Or you might want to clear up the piled up clutter on your desk. A smooth and soothing music perhaps? Or a lively and upbeat one? You could also put up posters that inspires you. All these can help you avoid the risk of being burnt out.
Take projects that you love.
There is a saying that goes, “do what you love and you will never work another day in your life”. Taking a project that fires you up will help you do the job right without really exhausting yourself a lot. There is nothing wrong on taking all projects available, don’t get me wrong but taking a project that doesn’t interest you will creep through your mind and body sooner or later.
Work on several projects at a time.
It might sound contradictory but it helps. Just last week, I’ve been involved in a crazy 360-degrees campaign for our client. And it’s so crazy that I wanted to just leave it all there, undone, waiting for the time that it will design itself. But no, that doesn’t happen. Luckily enough I was assigned to a new exciting branding project. It’s a whole new project where in I can go all crazy creative as I want. What I mean is it helps to find ways to give yourself alternatives, so that you can still be productive, while having the choice to temporarily skip a problem you are annoyed by or frustrated with.
Not all people are the same. One solution might help someone and not the other. It still best to know yourself, what works on you and what doesn’t. My main point here is to always find something that will inspire you along the way. No one can help you but yourself. The sooner you sit down and reflect on yourself, the better off you’ll be.
Ever experienced creative burnout? Comment down what you did to get away with it!