Five Tips To Help You Avoid Burnout

Burnout is a real thing, especially for creatives!

The combination of a high, irregular workload, constant pressure to create at the highest level, and financial instability associated with the work, makes creatives incredibly susceptible to being over-extended.

Author Anne Hellen Anderson recently wrote a book on Millennial burnout. Now that things are “back to normal” after the pandemic, I see more burnout than ever before, even when many used the pandemic as a reset for work/life balance. I spoke a bit about burnout in this podcast episode, and you should also check out this episode of On The Media where Anne Hellen Anderson speaks at length about what she calls The Burnout Generation.

Here are 5 Tips to avoid burnout.

  1. Control what you can control. Whether it’s a never-ending pandemic, our political system, or even our ability to work, there are many things are beyond our control. Try to keep your focus on those things that are within your power.

    Tip: As crazy as this sounds, try going on a low-information diet for the next five days. Don’t look at your social media feeds, avoid your online news source and forget watching the news. You might even try one of the many apps that help you limit your social media use. Instead, limit yourself to 5–10 minutes a day to check one reliable source for your news updates and call it a day. The news cycle doesn’t change that much over a period of 24 hours so I can easily get a quick update from my chosen news source in a shortened amount of time before diving back into my work.

  2. Focus on your productivity. One great way to avoid burnout is to take a look at your level of productivity. My productivity suffers when I try to do too much and ultimately get spread too thin. In extreme situations, I burn out, which moves me in the opposite direction from where I’d like to be going in regards to finding overall balance.

    Tip: Productivity happens when you come up with a plan and stick with it. For me, it’s not about working more, it’s about working smarter. If you’re feeling the effects of burnout and you don’t feel particularly productive, it’s time to hit the pause button and figure out why the work isn’t getting done. This article by Josh Spencer is a great place to start. I also created a checklist to help creatives stay motivated and productive. Check it out here.

  3. You deserve that cup of coffee. One of the biggest reasons I suffer from burnout is when my income doesn’t meet my financial needs, which forces me to cut spending (or go into debt) in order to make ends meet. The very things that help me avoid burnout are the first to go when I try to balance my budget.

    Tip: An occasional cup of coffee from Starbucks or a beer with a friend at a local bar isn’t going to be the reason you ultimately struggle financially. Quite often, these small moments of joy are the things that keep me from burning out in the first place. Stop worrying about the things that cost less than $10 and instead establish a “joy” line in your budget and reserve funds for things that bring you joy and, more importantly, help you avoid burnout.

  4. Lean into your group of friends and/or family. I often notice that individuals who suffer from burnout feel isolated and overwhelmed by work. Establishing some ground rules that allow you to take a break from work in order to spend time with your family and friends can play an incredibly important role in avoiding burnout.

    Tip: Prioritize your family and friends for the next week and see if it helps you shift away from burnout. Human contact is one of the most important ways to find balance.

  5. Recenter why you’re doing this. So often, I work with individuals who suffer from burnout because their expectations for what should happen in their work and life aren’t matching what is happening in reality. This is especially true today.

    Tip: Ask yourself these questions: Do you find your current work meaningful? Why or why not? What do you need to do in order to find meaning within your work? Finally, where are you finding meaning in other parts of your life? Jot all your answers down. Your goal is to identify those meaningful reasons why you are on the path you’re on.

Take care of yourself by addressing the things that are causing burnout in order to have a more enjoyable work life. I encourage you to use one of the tips listed above in order to help you avoid burnout in the future.

Photo Credit: Hernan Sanchez

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Nate Zeisler is the Dean for Community Initiatives at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. He envisions a world where students majoring in the arts have a clear path to a sustainable career, where creative minds are empowered and inspired to rule the workforce, and where access to the arts is not just for the privileged few, but for all.

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