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10 Ways to Avoid Creative Burnout
By: Fast Company
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Burnout can strike at unexpected moments, regardless of whether you’re your own boss or work with a team. We’re living in an era when round-the-clock communication is simply a fact of life, and the always-on culture of many workplaces can take an outsize toll on creatives, who need mental and physical energy to do their best work.
 

So, how do you avoid burnout? Co.Design collaborated with The Creative Independent, a resource for creative people with a deep archive of how-to guides and interviews, to bring you 10 takes from leading artists, designers, musicians, and chefs on what they do–or don’t do–to keep themselves sane, energized, and creatively fulfilled.

 

Plan “slow-downs” in your yearly calendar

“The burnout thing is real. I went hard for the last year and a half. I ran a great Kickstarter, and had my first proper book come out, and then took it on a book tour, and traveled all over the place, and was gone constantly. It was lots of adventure, but also lots of hectic stuff, and that definitely took a toll. I psychologically told myself that I would stop, and somehow, it took me [many months of] pumping the brakes to actually feel like I was slowing down. I think as a freelancer, you fall into the trap of thinking that your time and your schedule is very flexible, and I’ve started to come to grips with the fact that it’s not. I have to set time aside a year in advance, and hold it sacred.”

 

Treat your work like a 9-to-5 job, even if it’s not

“I schedule out hours to work. I know that if I’m working during those hours, then I can have that night to myself to exercise or watch a TV show or read a book or whatever. That’s a difficult thing, because you want the record to do well and you have your management and your publicist and the label working to get you press opportunities, [so it can be hard to be like,] ‘I’m just not going to do this today.’ But, with the songwriting process, it’s really important because you don’t want to burn out. You don’t want to feel like you don’t enjoy playing music.”

 

Find a totally unrelated creative outlet

“The only time I was really on my way to burning out was when I was working at fancy restaurants doing only desserts. That’s when I started playing music again after a few years of not doing that. Playing music helped me keep myself in check. I was able to do this other thing that balanced things out–something totally and completely different from my job.”

 

Take a day off

“I’m very lucky because I’m able to do what I love every day, [and] I always feel like there’s something that I can take from life and sublimate into fiction. Of course, I have many days that feel like pulling teeth—like the worst dentistry. Days where I delete everything and start over. Taking one day off a week is good, so is going to a museum, or the galleries in Chelsea, or an afternoon movie, or walking around New York if the weather is in a good mood.”

 

Work in spurts, and keep a rhythm

“I do very well under duress. My voice sounds better when I’m dehydrated and tired. So, burnout is actually okay when it happens. That’s why I live upstate; it’s a tank and a vacuum where I can go in for several weeks—get up at six, lunchtime, dinnertime, same time every day. Go to sleep at nine. An amazing amount can happen in three weeks, maybe a year’s worth of work.”

 

Practice saying “no”

“I was definitely burnt out this past fall and it was rough. I’m learning the value of sleeping more. I’m learning the value of longevity and projects that take time. For me, something I’ve also been learning is how so many black women feel like we can’t say ‘no,’ or that we have to work extra just to prove our existence in a certain space. I’m trying to resist all of that.”



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This article was published on Fast Company. A link to the original piece appears after the post. www.fastcompany.com
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