Burnout. It's difficult to tell whether it's physical or mental.
Or is there really a difference?
These last couple of weeks I’ve been experiencing burn-out.
My well feels empty physically AND mentally.
Perhaps it’s due to rather more social interaction than I’m used to.
I’m an ambivert which means I get stimulated by other people as well as by being alone.
But sometimes my introvert side suffers - as all introverts do - from exhaustion due to too much people time. Probably ‘too much’ people time is more for me than for a true introvert, but when I hit it, it hurts.
It would seem logical that after all that social time, I’d want nothing more than to curl up with my artwork.
But burnout means that I feel exhausted by everything.
A Personal Energy Management System
Over the years I’ve learned how to manage these times. I understand that first of all I need a recovery period. In this period, I do well-filling activities like reading, browsing my Pinterest boards, watching TED talks and getting out in nature, or to see some art.
But once I have sufficient energy to do a small amount of work, I focus on tasks that don’t need much creative input. Boring tasks.
Organising notes, dealing with bureaucracy, even some light book-keeping.
I’ll be thankful later when I’m in the flow and I don’t have to drag myself away from painting to do the mundane things I got done in this down period.
“I recommend that you always keep an inventory of things that need to be done that require very little mental or creative horse-power. When you’re in one of those low-energy states, do those things...some of the myriad thing that you need or want to deal with sometime anyway.”David Allen, Getting Things Done - the art of stress-free productivity
So as not to neglect my artwork completely, I focus on the ‘easy’ or mundane task there as well: Mixing paint, painting grounds, sorting and curating ideas and references.
I’m like one of those old steam locomotives that gradually builds steam again. Slowly, slowly I puff up the tree-covered hill and emerge onto level ground and into the sparkling sunshine once more.
As creative entrepreneurs we’re responsible not only for managing our business but for managing our creative energy.
Our energy is our most valuable resource.
Without it, all the ideas, dedication and even talent in the world are useless. So manage it we must.
How do you manage your energy?
Share in the comments!