Can Creative burnout be beaten?
Here we’ll discuss some guidelines on how to avoid it and keep your team of creatives motivated.
We’ve all experienced it. For creatives, the constant pressure of production deadlines, inefficient workflows, scarce resources, unintuitive technology, and constantly growing expectations threaten to derail and demotivate your creative workers even in their apogee.
Burnout can strike when no one sees it coming, 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 and there is an always-on culture in many workplaces that can take an outsize toll on creatives, who need mental health and physical energy to do their best work.
There’s always the chance of taking on too many responsibilities when you’re in the studio, and sometimes your well-being gets put on the back burner. We won’t even begin to discuss perfectionism or high-achieving personalities. And, that‘s all on top of the pressure to constantly produce new work.
For people whose roles demand creativity to produce quality work, creative burnout can truly affect their performance. Despite their passion for the craft, creatives can find it hard to get motivated or inspired. If you manage a creative team, this means that despite meeting deadlines, the quality of work may suffer, and team morale may hit a low. Always be on the lookout for their well-being and don’t let their creative juices run dry, otherwise, if you push your employees way too harsh beyond the point of recovery, like a watery counterpart, one day they will find themselves empty and their creative work will be severely affected.
During the pandemic hit of 2020, creatives were simultaneously asked to manage complex personal emotions brought on by the onset of COVID-19 while also quickly adjusting to remote work. On top of that, they suddenly saw their workload increase as the demand for creating countless time-sensitive collateral for clients and stakeholders skyrocketed. Working long hours and beyond the 9 to 5 shift, they found their workday altered and creative professionals found themselves working around the clock.
Employee burnout is becoming more and more prevalent as team members reach their breaking point – the natural result of living and working under so much pressure and no clear end in sight.
This can be shown in a very number of ways. Disengagement, disinterest in meetings. Lower levels of participation on slack or email threads. Work is not reflective of creative potential. High turnover. Missed deadlines. Slow time to market. To keep it short, the burnout got real.
If you’re seeing these symptoms of burnout creeping into your creative team and you’re concerned about how to deal with it, it’s time to address it head-on. This involves flexing your creative muscles to offer your team a satisfying and sustainable structure that combines the best of what office work and remote work has to offer. It means investing in the technology and tools that will set your people up for success in a new hybrid world.
How do you replenish your team’s well of creativity? Here are some tips to guide your team out of a creative rut.
How to Rescue your Team from a Creative Burnout
Most of us thrive when there is some kind of structure to our days. And there can be important team-building and creativity-boosting benefits to being physically present in the same space. But the five-day work-life can also feel like a grind, especially for team members who have a long commute or whose jobs require a good amount of inspiration and creativity.
Consider capitalizing on the positive aspects of office life by having employees come into the office two or three days a week. In doing so, you can leverage the benefits of both work options and ease that emotional exhaustion. In-office days can be used for intentional collaboration and to strengthen personal connections between team members, while remote days can offer much-needed balance and flexibility.
To complement in-office days, give your employees the chance to continue the work remotely so as to provide uninterrupted work time to provide creatives a chance to execute all ideas they’ve brainstormed with their colleagues. And just as important for professionals who are balancing work with family obligations, remote offers flexibility that enables creatives to bring their best efforts to all aspects of life.
In order to make these remote days as effective and productive as they can possibly be, consider a moratorium on meetings or other interruptions for at least part of the day. This will empower your team to tap into their creative storehouses and produce work that achieves better content outcomes.
When responding to the sudden shift to fully remote work, many teams developed stop-gap creative workflows and processes to keep teams functioning. Ringing any bell? If so, now is the time to take the headache out of the creative process by investing in technology to foster enhanced creativity and collaboration.
To identify these tools, ask yourself:
- Are existing processes and workflows streamlined and intuitive enough that they can be easily followed while working remotely?
- Do our tools allow collaboration between the team and external stakeholders? Especially if stakeholders opt not to participate in in-person meetings moving forward?
- Has my team expressed frustration about the tools they currently use? If so, what are the common complaints that need to be addressed? What’s the plan to fix them?
Providing intuitive tools and technologies that meet the needs of your team and stakeholders ensures a seamless creative process – regardless of whether work is being done in the office or remotely
Creative teams have been through a lot this year. It’s your responsibility to meet your team members where they are while also setting an inspiring vision for what the future will hold.
By offering a flexible work environment that embraces in-person and remote work – and by investing in tools to streamline and enhance processes – you can mitigate burnout and set your team up forever for higher levels of success.
Is Creative burnout inevitable?
It’s only natural to reach that point in your work-life where you feel exhausted, depending on the intensity, creatives always need to fill in their pond so as to beat it. Here are some helpful strategies that may help you out.
Plan Your calendar from the get-go
The burnout is real. Most freelancers fall into the trap of thinking that their time and their schedule are very flexible, but that is where you are wrong, that’s when everyone falls into the trap. Organization is key in every methodology of work, so it’s always a good idea to keep your calendar close and plan everything in advance.
There’s a time for everything, treat your work time as a shift, even if it’s not
Schedule out work hours. If you comply with that then you get the nighttime to exercise or watch a TV show or read a book or whatever. That’s a difficult thing to do, you can‘t miss a thing if you want the whole enterprise up and going. You must be wary because if it catches up, you might end up not liking the things you love because of burnout.
Find a creative outlet that has nothing to do with what you do
Sometimes when you do it over and over again in your routine, you can grow weary and it can become a burden rather than something you like. Do something outside of that, like playing music for example. Music might be the break you need and balance things out.
Take a hike on your day off
If you enjoy what you do, then you are one of the lucky ones. You might feel life is smiling at you, you wake up in the morning and feel there is always something new that can be sublimated into fiction. You might have your OK days, or that day when you literally want to pull off your hair. If that ever occurs don’t doubt yourself and ask for a day off. Going to a museum, or a gallery, going to the movies, or just walking around can do you an immense good for your health and help you replenish energy and recover from burnout.
Work in spurts but make it a habit
Try working on duress for a change. Burnout is a thing and is okay when it actually happens. Get up at six, then lunchtime, followed by dinnertime, same time every day, and then go to sleep. An amazing amount of things can happen if you choose to make these things a habit. Your work can be affected in a positive way and a crazy amount of work will be done at the end of the year. An artist, for example, will be extremely beneficiated by doing this and adjourning a more organized lifestyle, sometimes a voice can sound better when dehydrated and tired some might say.
It’s Ok when you say “no”
Learn the value of longevity and that projects take time. You don´t have to work extra to prove your existence to nobody, resist that and say no. Carrying through your personal projects and making them grow is yet again another powerful method to avoid burnout because there is another thing you can focus on besides work.
Don´t treat work as something you must escape from
Things start to spin around when you adopt the “ work really hard and then not work at all” routine. For some, the only time when they actually feel creative is when mixing loath with work. Some might convince you that you’re doing something for a living and by doing that you embrace something that you don’t like, but its nothing like that, embrace creative work as a way of living like everything else, and running away from it will only hinder away you from real possibilities.
A good strategy against burnout is doing different things at once. Moving the headspace from one thing to another helps things get moving and learning different languages might inspire actually inspire you. Think of it as reading books. Don’t get married to one, sometimes having several reads at the same time can be good to alleviate things, and jumping from one thing to another can be fun. It feels like coming back to something and has a different feeling when you return.
Be honest with yourself and know when you need to stop
Your schedule has to be like your bible. Usually spending lots of time during a routine, but then something clicks and it switches away for a week. Allow mistakes in your creative process, rest easy when it does and give yourself a break these include being in nature, being still in your own space, and writing ideas down instead of actually working on them.
Be true to Yourself
Any artist and creative worker have to feed themselves creatively and have dates with themselves. Going to bed early and every little thing you do for yourself helps in the process to make your own internal garden grow. But most importantly of all what actually helps you is being realistic with what you do. Eventually, you will find the part of what you do is evergreen and true, try to focus on that and everything will run down smoothly.
Give your confidence a boost
You are your own toughest critic.
So when you feel uninspired and down in the dumps, it can do a lot of good to reminisce about past accomplishments.
Whether you reread emails from happy collectors, positive testimonials on your Facebook page, or admire the awards on your latest C.V., you’ll be reminded of your abilities and why you chose to become an artist in the first place.
Another tip? Try making a computer folder or fill a box with these pick-me-ups to turn to whenever you’re in need.
As an artist, what you do provides a lot of good in the world. Focusing on the positives of the job can help you regain your sense of purpose.
Never underestimate the power of friendship
Burnout can be isolating and, it can play serious mind games with our self-esteem.
The minute you start feeling burnout, that’s when you should turn to your personal therapist or support group, that is to say, your friends and mentors!
Investing in a group of people who will support, nourish, stimulate, mentor, and guide you to put your best foot forward is important. Odds are they’ve been through it themselves and will have the wisdom to help you, too.
But, it’s not all on them. It’s your job to communicate exactly what will make you feel better. Do you just need someone to listen and vent to? Could you use some words of encouragement or advice? Or, maybe you just need a good laugh and a partner while you get your change of scenery?
Don’t be afraid to reach out and trust that they are willing to help. And, whatever you do, stay away from all those negative influences.
Egging on stress and negativity will only make matters worse in the creative burnout world. Let that go at once, and find a way to calm your mind.
Mindfulness can be a great way to take stock of what’s actually happening in your art business and eliminate the unnecessary stresses you impose on yourself. There are also proven ways to improve your positivity, like setting consequences for when you complain and actively practising gratitude. Get the scoop.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s okay to set boundaries with imposing clients and friends, or even yourself. As we said earlier saying “no” can have a really powerful effect on your mental health.
Finally, using tools that save you time on the tasks you dread doing can be a saving grace for your mentality. For instance, the software can take a huge amount of stress off your plate – and it takes nothing off your day, so it is highly recommended.
Burnout doesn’t have to get you, it can be avoided. To prevent it from happening, pay attention to the signs of fatigue and attend yourself: sleep, go out for a walk, develop a hobby that has nothing to do with what you do for a living like music or anything, discover new things, breathe and practice mindfulness, visit your friends and more importantly know when to say no! Life is all about finding balance in everything, embrace it and listen to yourself!