Powerful Ways to Bounce Back from Creative Burnout - Deepstash

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Why (and how) burnout kills your creativity

Why (and how) burnout kills your creativity

As Arianna Huffington wrote : “Nothing kills creativity faster than burnout."

Creativity depends on an openness to new ideas, freedom to explore, and finding purpose in your work. But all those qualities disappear when you’re burnt out.

“As a metaphor for the draining of energy, burnout refers to the smothering of a fire or the extinguishing of a candle. It implies that once a fire was burning, but the fire cannot continue burning brightly unless there are sufficient resources that keep being replenished.”

- Wilmar Schaufeli, Psychologist

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Burnout leads you to achieve less

Just because you’re facing creative burnout doesn’t mean your work expectations change.

As Schaufeli continues:

“Over time, employees experiencing burnout lose the capacity to provide the intense contributions that make an impact. If they continue working, the result is more like smouldering–uneventful and inconsequential–than burning. From their own perspective or that of others, they accomplish less."

This is especially disastrous for people whose jobs are focused on creativity and who aren’t able to draw a line between work and “everything else.”

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Ways to come back from creative burnout

The cycle of burnout is especially bad for people who need to be more creative at work . Your ideas were what made people pile more and more work on you in the first place. And it’s easy to fall back into those patterns the second you feel ready to return to work.

Coming back from burnout and rebuilding your creative muscle is as much about understanding and setting limitations as it is getting that spark back.

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Understand your limitations (and take advantage of them)

Burnout occurs when job demands consistently outweigh the resources available.

In other words, are you trying to squeeze too much out of the limited time/energy/motivation you have? If so, the first thing you need to do is to set proper limits.

While this might sound like a scary proposition for your post-burnout brain (that’s so used to taking on everything) limitations can be creatively empowering.

Research has found , when people face scarcity in resources “they give themselves the freedom to use resources in less conventional ways – because they have to.”

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Resources

Resources

So what resources can you limit? While there are many options, the most powerful resource is your time.

Time management and focus are some of the most important creativity tools we wield. When you limit your time spent on specific tasks, you give yourself permission to make choices.

Instead of fighting perfectionism , you learn to stop when things are good enough.

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Rescue Time

Rescue Time

Rescuing your time can help you with this in a number of ways.

First, you can set a daily goal for total time worked and get an alert when you go over. For example, setting goals for total device time, time spent on distracting apps, and mobile time so you know when you're getting off track.

Next, you can set daily goals for your time in specific taskslike writing, designing, or coding — and get alerts when you’ve gone over.

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Say no to things that suck the creativity out of you

When your mental resources are limited, you need to make sure they’re going to the right tasks.

Burnout decimates your motivation, making working on projects you’re uninterested in an agonizing process. Dr. Christina Maslach, one of the pioneers of occupational burnout research writes:

“People experiencing burnout are not simply exhausted or overwhelmed by their workload. They also have lost a psychological connection with their work, which has implications for their motivation and identity.”

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Creative post-burnout

To rebuild your creative confidence post-burnout, you need to rebuild that identity in your work. That means reigniting your spark with creative tasks.

As Emily Haines, lead singer of the band Metric writes:

“The only time that I feel things start to spin out is when I buy into the whole ‘work really hard and then just don’t work at all’ idea…The whole point of being an artist is that it can provide a fluid life.”

Learning how to say no isn’t easy (in work and in life). But it’s a key step if you want to move past creative burnout.

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Find a completely unrelated creative outlet

Sometimes you need to tackle a problem head-on. With creative burnout, it’s often better to take a side-on approach.

While your first impulse will most likely be to dive back into what you’re used to, that can quickly backfire. It’s easy to overstretch your limits when you go back into old daily routines . Instead, look for a creative task with lower stakes to help ease you back into things.

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Give yourself permission to fill your creative well

Unrelated creative tasks can help inspire you, but there are also other ways to fill your “creative well.” The architect and designer Emily Fischer writes:

You have to feed yourself creatively. You have to give yourself that creative fuel. I hate using the term ‘self-care’ but I think that’s a part of it.”

How you give yourself self-care is up to you. It could mean going to bed an hour earlier. Making time for a walk in nature. Going to an art show. Or even just doing something fun.

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Give yourself strict, yet realistic deadlines

Give yourself strict, yet realistic deadlines

One of the hardest parts of bouncing back from creative burnout is dealing with the nagging voice inside your head.

The self-critic is something we all face. At times it can get so loud that it drowns out our ability to push through.

There’s a simple tool you can use to silence your inner critic: deadlines. We’re talking about short, yet strict deadlines. Let’s say you need to write a chapter of a book. Instead of sitting down and banging your head against your screen for hours on end, break it up into tiny increments and set tight deadlines.

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CURATED BY

saratarakci

Software Developer

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