Avoid burnout

When you’re making a project, you spend a lot of time working on it and you usually don’t get any money or feedback for it at the time being, so it’s hard to stay on track, stay motivated and still see why you’re doing it.

I’ve been working on a pretty big project lately which made me slow things down here as I’ve already mentioned before. The project is going really great and the people I’ve been talking to so far are amazing. I haven’t had the problem with motivation because I know it’s going to turn out great and I love the idea very much. But, I did find myself in a situation where I suddenly realized that was the only thing I was doing, day and night, because I felt so tired. Too tired to even do something fun. Even when you don’t have a strict deadline, being eager about a project can lead you to this situation.

The problem here is that it’s too late to take a few hours out of your day and instead of working on your project, do some other creative work that you like, or play sports. You feel jaded and what follows is complete creative burnout. You can still work, but not even with one fifth of the energy and imaginativeness you work usually. You’ve come to a point when you need to take a day or two off, at least.

I know people who do this all the time. They wear themselves out, rest and then do it all over again. But why would you want to do that if you can use your whole potential at all times. You can say: “This is what works for me, it always has…”, but what if something works a lot better?

Creativity, same as every emotion has it’s natural flow; like the tide, sometimes is high, sometimes is low. It’s never an either or situation, meaning, you can always perform your best, just sometimes you do more and other times you do less.

The way I keep my work at high performance, whether it’s my writing for this blog or for something else, is that I balance my work, I mix it with sports activities, like skating, which is more then just a recreation. And I take time almost every day to read a book, learn something work unrelated, draw or paint. That’s what I love to do, that’s one of the things that relaxes me the most.

It goes round, you always draw energy and ideas from one thing to another even when they are unrelated. My art recharges my creative mind to come up with better ideas and interesting projects at work, my reading and friends inspire me to write good texts, a good day at work motivates me to be really good on the track, and that (sport) makes my mind relax and prepare the soil for new ideas.

The point is to do things every day that will separate you from your work, but keep your mind, body and/or your soul active. Any creative work, sport, reading, hanging out with your friends, playing with your kids, whatever makes you feel recharged on a day to day basis and what makes you forget your work (even if it’s brilliant and you love doing it), is good and much needed. That doesn’t include passive things though, like staring aimlesly at the TV. Although you may seem relaxed, you’re on pause, your energy drops and you don’t feel empowered afterwards which is what we are aiming for. I’m not saying you shouldn’t watch TV at all; if you like something, please do, but don’t replace the activities that keep your creative and productive level up by watching TV.

Great ideas and great work and made by people who know how to work and play at the same time. And that’s not only important to you, as an individual, it’s also important for the brilliant group of people you work with every day. Remind them from time to time why it’s important to play and leave them the space to do it. They will bring so much more to your organization and like you more because you let them.


photo courtesy r e n a t a

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2 Responses to Avoid burnout
  1. Bryce Becker
    May 27, 2010 | 6:40 PM

    If I had a buck for each time I came to wearemicro.com… Great writing!

    • Stella Stopfer
      May 28, 2010 | 2:21 PM

      Thanks Bryce, that puts a smile on my face. I’m glad you enjoy it.