Avoiding Burnout as a Creative

I sat there and simply uttered the words I never thought would come out of my mouth. I previously thought it was terminology that was received for the lazy, entitled, and those who didn’t want to execute. Yet, as I reached the 5th year mark in my own business, the writing was on the wall. Tears streaming down my face, I came home late on a Tuesday night, and through sobs cried out, “I’m absolutely exhausted.” Earlier that day I sat in a cafe, the to-do list seemingly as long as the 95 Thesis and I simply gave my computer back a harrowing stare. Regardless of the force, of the determination, or the passion, I couldn’t get traction on my projects that day or even the subsequent days to come.

Here’s what I wish someone would have told me again and again:

1. It’s okay and permissible to take days off.

That’s right. Days off. While there are seasons that are more laid back and restful, there are others that are full. More than anything, don’t continually sacrifice days off.

2. You don’t have to hit rock bottom before asking for help.

I’m someone who is strategic and loves everything to line up perfectly. Whether it’s revenue dollars matching projections. I’m always hesitant to hire. Growing a team can feel daunting when you’re already overwhelmed. Is it the right fit? Will it work long term?

3. Remind yourself of the things that make you come alive. Do them often (and keep them solely for yourself.

When running a lifestyle blog, this is huge. I can’t tell you the tension that has come as almost anything you do can function as content. Whether it’s the recipe you cook for dinner, the outfit worn to a business meeting, or simply the way you make your bed. Everything can become consumable by others. With this I’m reminding myself of the things that make me come alive and choosing to do them (and not capture any of it.)

4. Book a vacation at least every six months. If possible, once a quarter.

This one might seem a bit crazy but I can’t champion it enough. There’s nothing like going to a different space, stunning view, or adventure with people you love. (Even better if it’s away from cell phone service.) Get out of your norm and choose to take lengths of time off. (With every business, there are seasons to it. Some months will be naturally slower than others. Choose to embrace it.)

5. When you’re feeling exhausted, identify where you’ve expended energy or are at capacity.

Project management and time management, you’ve got it down. However, where do you spend the most energy. It could be in client meetings, the paperwork and administration that weighs you down, or simply the level of work you’ve taken on. Identify where you’re spending your energy and what you need to do to replenish it.

6. Take time to step away from the piles of work and demands of your day. Name a few hours a week for CEO time.

At the end of the day, there will always be something to do. As your business scales, the to-do lists don’t get any shorter. However, one of the practices I’ve found to be most vital is scheduling in CEO time. This allows me to work on things for my business rather than working in my business. It provides relief, headspace, and a perspective of the bigger picture of where things are going. The other thing that is invaluable-breaks. Whether it’s a lunch break and a quick walk or talking to a friend, there’s nothing like the beauty of taking a quick break to reinvigorate your workflow.

7. If you aren’t being paid for it, don’t work nights or weekends.

Clear set boundaries in the service field are necessary for both your health and serving your customers well. While clients can contact you at any given time, I strongly encourage implementing rush fees when contacted with night or weekend requests. Choose to over communicate during the onboarding process about a clear timeline, expectations, and office hours.

8. Acknowledge where hustle is overly glorified.

We live in a world where hustle is glorified. It’s on every feed with clamourings of the remote work life from a beach with 7 figures in the bank. Yes, you can work hard, and see a profit. However, hustle isn’t intended to happen indefinitely. Recently, I’ve been following accounts discussing the slow hustle movement. It’s been a welcome and countercultural message. Here’s what I’ve learned over the past few months. Rarely does creation under pressure yield stunning results. Don’t get me wrong. There’s deadlines, communication, and systems in place. However, when it comes to focusing on a project, copy, and visuals, I work best in a setting that feels at ease.

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