Creator Burnout is real, over 90% of creators experience it and over 70% thought about quitting because of it. No matter how much you might love doing something, chances are you have some days when creating content seems impossible. But, what happens when this occurs every day? This is called creator burnout.
What is Creator Burnout?
According to the WHO (the World Health Organization), burnout is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion. It can occur when you experience long-term stress in your job, or when you have worked in a physically or emotionally draining role for a long time.
Because it is normal for creativity to fluctuate depending on factors such as sleep and stress levels, creative burnout can easily fly under the radar. But for those who rely on creating as part of their work, it can have a devastating impact on their mental health.
In one of the earlier episodes of The Daily Creator Podcast, we talked to Bar Kirshon, an expert on the matter and she said: “Creators have consistency and provide something extra to the outside world”. This something extra is what leads to creative burnout. Creators are working non-stop and now many of them are quitting because they cannot find the motivation to do what they once loved, creating.
Spending hours shooting, editing, storyboarding, engaging with fans, setting up brand deals, and balancing the many other responsibilities that come with being a successful content creator has taken a toll on many. If you think you are one of them, pay attention to the following signs. If you have more than two symptoms, it may be time to shake things up.
Symptoms of Creator Burnout
Putting off your work…and then putting it off some more…is a big sign of burnout. People going through it will even have trouble finishing their most important projects in a timely way. If you find yourself procrastinating regularly—especially if procrastinating has not been a problem for you in the past—you are experiencing burnout.
2. Dreading Work (or creating content)
If the thought of work leaves you with a pit in your stomach, burnout is a culprit. While it is normal to dread work on Monday mornings or after a great vacation, regular feelings of significant dread around your job can indicate burnout.
3. Inexplicable Stress
Creative work can be stressful. Deadlines, complicated projects with many moving parts, a pushy client… It may make you feel persistently stressed without being able to pinpoint the exact cause.
4. Unbalanced Content Consumption
As a creator, it is vital to balance your levels of creative input and output. When we are burning out, we often find ourselves scrolling endlessly and binging TV shows, but not creating much work of our own.
Finally, you may also think that you will never be good enough, that your work is pointless, or that you lack the necessary imagination—despite having produced good creative work in the past and having received praise for it.
If this sounds too familiar, do not worry. We came here to help you. Here is how you can get out of the burnout gutter.
How to Avoid Creative Burnout
Quick fixes do not work. Taking a day off or magically hitting inbox zero does not cut it. You must solve the problem at its heart.
1. Avoid Perfectionism
Perfectionism is the quickest route to creative burnout. To achieve perfection, many people push themselves way past the limits. They take on too many responsibilities and have unrealistic expectations of themselves. Just remember perfect is the enemy of good. If you are meeting goals, and KPIs, and generating a decent ROI, you do not have to worry about being perfect. Find what you are good at and focus on that.
2. Take Consistent Breaks
Give yourself time to recharge. Take a trip or plan a staycation. If you can, take a couple of days off work occasionally, to rest. This will clear up your mind and keep you fresh. Also, let yourself daydream; allowing your mind to wander can help you be more creative.
3. Set Boundaries
“Separate yourself from your online persona.”
When your job is also your passion, the line between work and life can easily blur. Set a daily, weekly, and monthly schedule, and stick to it. Give yourself realistic deadlines and time limits to focus on specific tasks, and then commit to moving on and letting go of perfectionism.
4. Avoid Comparing Yourself to Others
“Everyone starts from zero. Even the biggest names. Once you have that in mind, everything gets easier.”
Bar Kirshon, The Daily Creator Podcast.
Social media is great for finding inspiration and growing your business, but the downside is that it is easy to measure your success against someone else’s. Drawing comparisons between yourself and others is part of being human. But be careful not to put yourself down. Instead, use other people’s work as motivation; learn from their successes and their mistakes. Similarly, try comparing yourself to your past self, and notice how you have grown and improved.
Recovering from Creative burnout can be difficult. But the good news is you are not powerless. By setting expectations and boundaries up front, you can ensure a process that is sustainable over the short and long term.
“The number one thing about being a creator is just doing what makes you happy. If I am happy, and it makes me happy, I will be a successful creator for myself. And that is enough.”
Bar Kirshon, The Daily Creator Podcast. Listen to the whole episode here.
To a more insightful approach to this creative burnout, make sure to listen to The Daily Creator: How to avoid Creator Burnout with Bar Kirshon.