Being a creative pro is a dream come true and most of the time it's an exhilarating experience to get paid to do what you love most in the world. Yet with any profession there are times when deadlines pile up, creativity wavers and you start to wonder if you're losing your mojo. The holidays are fast upon us, which for most creative professionals means high stress levels, last minute project deadlines and even friends and family knocking on your door for a few "small little favors."
One of the best ways to beat burnout is to catch it before you crash and burn
One of the best ways to beat burnout is to catch it before you crash and burn, but that's easier said than done. With more deadlines comes more desk time, more coffee, more social events and less sunshine to help elevate the moods that boost creative flow. The team at GIGABYTE Notebooks USA spoke with industry experts and career coaches to help you identify when you're heading for the crash and how to catch yourself before you fall into the deep pit of creative clog.
1. Make time to move your body
According to corporate consultant and former personal trainer, Samson Chen, one of the most vital things for creative professionals is to make sure you're getting out from behind the desk. "These days it's really important to work on your physical health. You sit too much and think too much, and it dries up the creative flow." Chen recommends getting outside, taking a walk and doing at least three or four days of gym time with a focus on increasing core strength. "You don't need to be a gym rat, but you do need to keep your body moving to increase your circulation."
Other experts recommend getting out into the fresh air and sunshine, which can be difficult if you live in Northern climates where the winter months are dull, gray or down right freezing. If you can't get into the sunshine, make sure you have good lighting and watch your vitamin B.
Burn out doesn't just happen. If you're noticing that your body feels tired, sluggish or that you're a little more cranky or irritable it might be a sign that you need to get up and away from the desk and move your body for even fifteen minutes to see if that helps elevate your mood.
2. Set Priorities
Not everything has equal importance, some tasks are more vital than others. It's important to remember as much as you want to do all of the things right now, you have to pace yourself. Start each day by taking time to review your to do list and mark it with where it stands in your workflow priority. As cool as productivity apps can be, for some people there's no replacement for writing things down using a calendar or sticky notes. If you're a tactile person or a kinesthetic learner, you may need to tape up notes on scrap paper or use sticky notes to help you stay on track!
Urgent: Has to be done by the end of the day. This could be paperwork, a client project, a report. If it needs doing in 48 hours or less it goes to the top of the list.
Important: These items have a by the end of the week due date or you need to track them, they also might require a little more focus. Make sure you add these to your calendar.
Can wait: Let's face somethings can wait. The GIGABYTE staff is constantly writing articles, creating social media posts, and crafting scripts, and all kind of things. We create material in batches so that we're ready way ahead of schedule, and when we have time we add to the general article/video library. These things can wait until there's some slow gaps in our workflow or the more urgent items are checked off the list.
"Pay attention to your negative dominate thought patterns, body aches, illnesses and feelings," Heather Picken
3. Pay Attention To Your Thoughts
"Pay attention to your negative dominate thought patterns, body aches, illnesses and feelings," advises high performance coach and owner of Fierce Femme wines, Heather Picken. "This is feedback from your subconscious mind trying to connect to your conscious mind to take a break or regroup."
If you find yourself feeling more sensitive to feedback or more drained at the end of the day, it might be time to take a break. The experts we spoke to on burnout suggest making good use of any personal time to take the afternoon off even during the hectic season of crazy deadlines. "In order to create you need to feel relaxed and at ease, if you're tense and anxious creativity is going to dry up and that will start a negative feedback loop that's guaranteed to lead you towards burnout fast." Picken advises creative pros, especially women, to make sure they take time for self care to recharge on both a physical and emotional level.
4. Stop Making Do
Creative pros often use outdated software and hardware and struggle with productivity and output. When your bread and butter relies on getting the project done right and on time, you can't afford to have tech stand in the way. AERO Brand Ambassador, Mark AJ Nazal, is working from home in his role as Visual Effects Supervisor and editor at CoSA VFX Studio.
"I'm really glad I had the AERO 17 HDR when this all started, because it's really been the difference in getting my studio work done." Mark told the GIGABYTE Notebooks USA Team. "Working on projects that demand high quality visual effects I couldn't imagine what life would be like if I was still using my old laptop which stuttered everytime I opened Adobe Premiere, let alone used some of the studio software. The AERO 17 HDR has really helped me get through this challenging time. Plus, I've been able to work with the cast and crew of Carmina, the movie, remotely to get our edits done after hours."
Mark's advice to creative pros is to make sure you've got the right equipment, "It's stressful enough trying to make things happen in this "new normal", having the right hardware is going to really save you from the pressure of waiting on renders, and help you multi-task. Nothing is worse than having things shut down or freeze mid-way through a project, having a good computer is essential."
5. Communicate To Your Team
If you work for an agency or large organization, talk to your team if you're feeling swamped. Make sure you set up good boundaries around workflow, let them know what you can and can't do on your own, and where you might need a little help. Maybe the whole team needs to go out and blow off steam, set some goals for social time or celebrating meeting the deadlines, don't just put your nose to the grindstone once you check things off the list.
If you're an Indie, don't take every last minute job, guard your time and choose your projects with care. Say no to jobs that don't feel right, even if it's for a good cause. Let your friends and family know you're feeling a little overwhelmed, or if you need to go out and have some fun.
Obviously one article can't cover everything, what do you do to avoid creative burnout? Let us know in the comments below!