Last week during the #CreativeCoffeeHour Twitter chat, one of the questions that came up was around what we can do to manage emotional burnout in creative work. I mentioned the importance of assessing WHY we feel burned out, and instantly had others asking me for tips on how to understand the “why” of burnout. It was too big of a topic to get into over Twitter, so I decided to share my answer here!
Your Burnout Assessment: 5 Tips to Assess Why You Feel Burned Out
1) Identify when the burnout began.
Usually burnout begins long before we realize it, but there’s some value in taking a step back and pinpointing when it all started. Was it around a time that you took on a new commitment? What was different about this commitment? Was it simply that your plate was already full and this extra addition toppled everything over?
You need to understand when your burnout truly began if you are to work backwards and deal with it.
2) Ask yourself what triggered the feeling of burnout.
There’s a difference between when you started getting burned out, and when you actually REALIZED that you were starting to get burned out. Often it can takes days or even weeks before we realize what’s happening, if we aren’t paying attention to the signs of burnout!
So: what was it that tipped you over and made you understand that what’s going on is burnout? What were you doing or thinking about when it happened? What was the trigger?
3) Be honest with yourself about what needs to change for you to stop feeling burned out.
Analyze what’s working and what isn’t. Check in with yourself about what you can let go of or delegate, and think critically about what will happen if you do let go of it or delegate it (I bet the world won’t end if you do).
If you are burned out, something DOES need to change. And it’s up to you to identify what you can change—and to make that change—because no one else can do that for you.
4) Make note of your personal symptoms of burnout.
Signs of burnout tend to be fairly universal, such as producing lower-quality work, feeling chronically tired (but not necessarily in a sleepy sort of way), and having difficulty concentrating/focusing on your work and actually getting work done. Nonetheless, it’s worth paying close attention to your personal signs of burnout.
When you know what the signs of burnout are, you can be quicker to recognize them in the future, and thus deal with the burnout early on BEFORE it becomes a big problem.
5) Identify and implement strategies to prevent burnout from happening in the future (or at the very least, to reduce the likelihood of it occurring).
So you’ve figured out when the burnout started, the root cause of it, what made you realize your were burned out, what needs to change for you to move past the burnout, and what your signs and symptoms of burnout are.
That’s great! But you know what? None of that is going to be helpful unless you actually DO something to prevent this from happening again in the future.
You need to be able to take action and change the way you do things if you are to really manage burnout. The assessment component is critical, but so is the action component!
Check in with yourself and put a solid foundation and strategy into place so you can be empowered for managing burnout in the future.
“When you know the signs of burnout, you’ll be quicker to recognize them in the future” – @Saganlives