Updated: Dec 16, 2019
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, emphasized this in his talk at AdobeMax 2019 about workflow in film. As the Environments Supervisor and a visual effects Department Head at CoSA FX studio in North Hollywood, CA Mark has access to a team, render farm and other professionals to help meet the demands of
working on network and streaming television shows and movies.
However on his independent projects it's him and a small team, "I only had so much time to work on my own project, after a ten hour day at the studio, I'd rush home and get to work editing Enter the Shadowbane." Nazal explains, "I had about a week to finish the project and if I was using my outdated laptop I wouldn't have made the deadline, as it happened I was just breaking in the AERO17 UHD I was testing to see if I wanted to be the AERO Brand Ambassador. If anything it reaffirmed that you can't skimp on your tech and let unnecessary hurdles get in the way or you just won't create out of frustration."
Using the right version of the software and/or hardware is essential to frustration free creating. Frustration can and will lead to burn out, something as simple as upgrading your equipment can reduce a vast amount of stress. (It doesn't have to cost a fortune either, after all it's that time of year, you can check out the latest holiday deals from GIGABYTE Notebooks here .)
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!