Five Tips for Overcoming Burnout

Have you ever been burned out? I have and so I feel qualified to write about it. In the past I have been completely burned out from work. I’m not right now, but part of this post was written when I was. I know so much about burnout, that I have been able to discover ways to get over that slump when you just want to quit.

Burnout. It’s the word that strikes fear into the heart of every designer and it is something that almost all designers have experienced.

I have been running Tornado for going on 9 years now and during that time have seen burnout very closely as well as experienced it myself. At its best, burnout is when you have no creativity or your creativity takes a lot of fuel to light. On the other hand, burnout can be from other areas such as the business management side, or the client relationship side. Believe me when I say that I’ve been there and so I’m writing this to point out a variety of the ideas that have helped me get over burnout.

5 Tips For Overcoming Burnout

  1. Schedule your projects — Make a schedule of everything you need to do and really stick to it. If you can’t schedule all of your projects because you have to many, at least try to schedule the next two weeks of work.
  2. Let your clients or your boss know you are behind — Communicate your new project schedule to your clients (make sure they are reasonable) and make sure they know you’re working hard. This will get a lot off of your mind and allow you to think about your work.
  3. Get some exercise — Just getting away from the computer and burning calories and thinking. This can help so much. It gives you some time to clear your mind and think about things differently.
  4. Figure out which project is giving you the most grief — Figure out which project is causing the most stress and work on just that. Sometimes it’s just one or two projects that can be causing the stress or burnout. Decide whether you should put them on the back burner or focus your attention only on them. At times when I notice I am stressed out, it is usually due to a single incident or person. Get it resolved and life is easy. Ignore it and it gets worse.
  5. Go to the bookstore — If you’re a designer, and find you are out of good ideas. Take a break and hit the bookstore. They always have great design books and you can flip through them and get design ideas.
  6. Bonus Tip: Fire problem clients — It has to be done occasionally. So if a client is making your life miserable sometimes it’s best for everyone to part ways.

What are your tips for overcoming burnout?

Update: Here’s an excellent comment on Hacker News about what causes burnout… and how to overcome burnout.

6 responses to “Five Tips for Overcoming Burnout”

  1. #6 really is so true. Sure you want business, but no “problem” client is worth it. It’s amazing how one person/business can completely make your life (and business) miserable.

  2. What a great set of tips Chris! I think #3 is a great tip, especially if you decide to take a hike away from the city, computer, and cell phone. 🙂

  3. thanks for the tips..
    just to show how burnt out i was, i am just getting to this post this week.

    i had to back away from my load and breathe and found that scheduling properly did help along with a weekend get away.

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