Friday, June 12, 2009

Creativity Burn Out- Oh my!

Hello again sorry it is taking me so long to post again. I have had one of those weeks. I have posted a photo of Cleo, my dog whose look reflected how I felt this week. (Though she looks this way all the time) Sometime after I take a trip, I get so tired that I get in a funk. Though Prescott was a short trip (only four days). I think is because it was just a week and half after my last trip back east (8 day trip), everything just caught up with me. I came back to work on Monday ready to go and get a bunch of designs done, as well as instructions and planning, but by Wed. I was so burned out and tired, I just lost my groove. This may come a surprise to some, but any artist can get creativity burn out. This usually happens at the busiest time when it is not recommended to just stop and take a break. Though I have learned over the years, that stopping and stepping away for a bit is a better way to deal with burn out, than trying to bang your head against the wall and push through the burn out. I have figured out if I take a break and step away I am usually twice as productive when I come back to the drawing table.
So how did I get burned out this week, Kathy and I started the week with six projects going at one time and they were all at different stages of production, laying around the studio. I also was thinking about several upcoming projects as well as the overall direction our studio is moving in. Add in the everyday headaches of life and being overtired from traveling without having a weekend to rest up and you have classic burn out. So enough of whining about how I got in this condition that I am sure we can all relate to, let me tell you how I counter this condition.
Sometimes, like this week, I took an hour to just clean up the studio. By cleaning up the studio I feel like I am cleaning out my head. Most of the time I get burned out by trying to do too many projects at one time, just like this week. I looked at each project and decided what had to be done to complete each project.  I made a list of projects in order of fastest to complete to the projects that still had a lot of work on them finish. Once Kathy got to the studio she and I finished up the couple of the projects that were almost done. Then we prioritized what was left by their deadlines. I cleaned up anything that was just lying around the studio that did not have anything to do with what we were working on this week. This only takes a small amount of time because I keep the studio pretty organized on a day-to-day basis seeing how others have to come into my space and work too. (Now if you work better in chaos these tips may not help.) Once I had my space organized, I start making lists, I love lists. Most of the time I do not even follow the lists, but by creating them I am getting all the chaotic thoughts out of my head and down on paper in an organized manner. Again I prioritize items by easiest to complete and by deadline. I like to do several easy projects in between projects that take longer. I gives me a sense of completion that keeps me motivated to move on to the next task. When I do too many long projects back to back I feel like I am never going to finish anything and start to burn out. Another trick I am learning is when I do have several large projects going at once is to break each project down into several smaller tasks. Tackle each smaller task over time and before you know it the large job is done. Now the next step to recovery is to take time away from the studio and look at the rest of my life, if that part is in chaos then it is harder to do my work in the studio. Today I spent the day just running around taking care of things that have nothing to do with work. Though it is hard sometimes to take time away to do things like take the dog to the vet or get my car fixed, once these things are taken care of I can again focus on my work. Now the most important step to burnout recovery is to take a day or an afternoon off as soon as the deadlines make it possible. Do something as simple as lay on the couch and read a book or go to lunch with your family. Don't worry everything will be waiting for you when you are done relaxing and back to full form. I know it is hard to justify taking a break when the world is weighing down on you with tasks and problems, but remember it is easier to handle anything once you have regained your strength and energy and there is only one way to do that. Take a Break! So until next time......


  1. Great advice! I hope you had a chance to recharge...isn't this Arizona weather lovely?!? Can't believe it's mid-June and not quite 100 degrees.

  2. Another great way to deal with burn out is staying in touch with friends. Love you!