5 tips to overcome creative burnout
Okay, let’s be real dudes. Mikayla and I (Luke) have been going through a major creative burnout. If you didn’t know, we’re not just photographers, we have full time jobs as graphic designers at Progressive Insurance as well as managing and being boss babes for Agape Photography. We’re not only doing photography and design for Progressive, but we’re also freelancing graphic design as well. Guys, that’s so much creative work all the time.
Creating is only the half of it, but managing time, spreadsheets, emails, invoices etc., all adds up and gets overwhelming at times. Oh my goodness, I almost forgot, writing this freaking blog, we gotta keep up with search engine optimization so the Google Gods can recognize our page as legit so we can be legit, too legit to quit. We’ve been business owners for over 5+ years now and had plenty of burnouts throughout the years. This blog is for the entrepreneurs who bite off more than they can chew all the time and call that normal life. Maybe I should write a book called “Somehow I Manage” -Michael Scott – Agape Photography (Office reference).
Do you ever sometimes think about what life would be like if you just went the normal route? Be tied and chained to a desk all day working for the man, man? I do, all the freaking time. I’m like, if I just quit being a business owner, I wouldn’t have to be stressed 24/7. But entrepreneur, you know you can’t do that, you aren’t wired that way, that’s boring and you need the stress because you thrive off of it and you love what you do.
So I’m going to go into some details about how Mikayla and I have gotten over some burnouts. Here’s a little nifty gifty guide to get over that stupid feeling of helplessness.
Creative Burnout Tip #1
I don’t think you realize how amazing it is to vent to someone in the same profession about your struggles with creative burnout. Little do you know, that person may be going through the exact. same. thing. Or, that person may know or give you some tips to get through that because they’ve been through it already.
We have a good friend Lauren who we love to vent to about our struggles. If you wanna see an amazing photographer check Lauren out here. We like to describe her as the polar opposite of us. Mikayla and I are more chill and low energy #gowiththeflowvibes while Lauren is bubbly, very outgoing, and is your walking checklist for getting everything done on time. Naturally we are drawn to each other because we all need a friend that either chills ya out, or really pumps you up.
I have struggles with opening up, (8 on the enneagram here) I tend to close up and not talk about my vulnerabilities and usually deflect and redirect the conversation. But I’ve learned that when I talk about or vent about my struggles of where I am in life or if I’m going through a creative burnout, I feel so much better. It’s literally taking a part of your burden, and allowing your friends, or family to take some of that load for you. Literally them just knowing about your struggles and the thought that they are thinking of you can get you out of the toughest times.
Creative Burnout Tip #2
Find a hobby you enjoy
Finding a hobby is so so so so so important to help combat creative burnout. I can’t stress this enough. There were times in our marriage where Mikayla and I have looked at each other and we’re like, what do we even like to do? We were so consumed with work, that we didn’t even know what we enjoyed any more. That’s not good guys. I need you to stop what you’re doing and think to yourself, what is something that I genuinely love to do? What is something that really makes YOU happy?
I’m not talking about something that you love to do with your spouse, I’m talking about you as a person. That’s very important. I’m not a psychologist or a shrink, but coming from personal experience, it’s important to separate what you love to do with your spouse with what you love to do personally.
Mikayla and I literally spend every second of our day together, we work for the same company, we work on the same business together, we have the same friends, we hang out all the time and we live together. It’s important to have your own identity and your own hobbies that you love to do to escape for an hour or two. So this list below is some of Mikayla and I’s hobbies that we love to do together, but as well as by ourselves.
This is my bread and butter. I’ve been playing video games since I can remember, playing Halo on the original Xbox to playing Rayman on the original Playstation. Video games have been a huge part of my life and still are. Mikayla respects my time for video games and sometimes even joins me when I force her! It’s great because when I play online, I can just be my little kid self again and constantly make fun of other people and trash talk all day. This is my number 1 outlet to escape from reality and have fun.
This hobby started off just being Mikayla’s, but slowly turned into something I absolutely love doing. Mikayla’s love for flowers and plants is unmatched (besides cats). Mikayla is constantly talking about how pretty the flowers are at other people’s houses that we drive by, to geeking out about knowing what a flower is in the wild. She dreams about having a huge cottage garden in France with perennials galore. We’ve recently started to build our own cottage garden and though it’s a work in progress, I can see the joy it brings her seeing butterflies, bumblebees and the like buzzing around the garden.
Owning our own house has been the biggest blessing we could have ever received. If Mikayla wasn’t a graphic designer or photographer, she’d be an interior designer/garden designer. You can say Luke, a house project isn’t a hobby, but I’d say you’re full of it. We’ve updated, painted, built so many cool things in our house and we love every second of it. Mikayla spends hours searching through Pinterest gathering inspiration on how we’re going to update our kitchen. Piecing together every nook and cranny of that place and once we get the money, we’ll build it.
I’ve built my kitchen table with Mikayla’s grandfather and had so much fun with him. Mikayla built an island for our kitchen with her grandfather and those memories are so precious to her. House projects are one of our favorite things to do because it’s a way for us to be creative together.
This is one of the hobbies that Mikayla has been loving a lot lately. She’s made so many quilts for friends and family, she’s made seat cushions, to even our poof in our living room. She’s a freaking sewing machine. This is one of her outlets that she loves to do and kills it. I also love seeing her face when she gives them away to friends and family because she’s eager to see how they react. Seeing Mikayla have fun and really enjoy a hobby makes me genuinely happy.
Creative Burnout Tip #3
Get off of social media
I can’t tell you how important this is. This is one of the most important numbers on this list. Do you know what’s amazing? How Apple lets you know how long you spend on your phone. It was such an eye opener for me. I would spend 3 to 4 hours a day on my phone (I know some of you who spend way more) and more than half of it is just on Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube. That’s 2+ hours of me mindlessly scrolling and consuming hot piles of garbage.
Sure there are many great things that come out of social media—friends, family, life updates. But the mass majority of social media today 2020, is ads thrown at your face (literally every 4 posts on Facebook and Instagram is an ad, do it, just scroll down and you’ll see), garbage fights over which political figure is best, and why the opposite opinion is wrong, and fake people just being fake. It’s maddening and I hate every bit of it. I miss when social media was simply posting pictures of your food and when you didn’t care that your feed wasn’t beautiful and curated.
But in today’s age, it’s a battle with who has the best things, who’s doing the best in life, surface-y highlights, and only the best we have to offer. We never talk about the deep things we struggle with. So sometimes dudes, we need a break, sometimes weeks at a time where we limit to 10 minutes a day of the -anti social- media. We’ve been bad on our social media front and we’re a business where marketing is a huge part of a business. It’s a struggle bus, and we’ve been riding it since day one.
Moral of this story, have a friend or family member go into your preferences and limit your social media time to 15 minutes for a week, and see how your life improves. It really does.
Creative Burnout Tip #4
Go on vacation
I know this is a little self explanatory, but sometimes it isn’t. Mikayla and I have traveled all over the US in these past 5 years, but have we really vacationed? My definition of vacation is going to a place you love, and not worrying about a schedule or anything for that matter. For me, vacation is going to a beach, having an alcoholic beverage in my hand (usually something with rum in it, #malibu) and hanging out with the one I love most.
We’ve traveled to Nashville, a Joshua Tree trip, San Francisco, The White Mountains, Rocky Mountains etc., etc. But those never really felt like a vacation. There was always an agenda, something to photograph, places to see and things to do. As photographers, if I’m truly going to go on vacation, I need to leave that camera at home. There shouldn’t be a whiff of any photo taking because that’s what I’m vacationing from.
We went to Folly Beach this past month and it was the greatest experience ever. I made the biggest sand castle, surfed for the first time ever, boogie boarded with family and ate all the best food. I didn’t think about work once. So whatever you feel is vacation, go for more than 3 days, go for a week and just get lost in that place you are and don’t even dare bring a camera.
Creative Burnout Tip #5
Do something creative in the field you’re burning out in
Okay, Luke, didn’t you just talk about escaping from the thing you’re burning out from above? Yes. But we need to figure out the reason WHY you’re feeling burnt out. I love graphic design, I love photography, but sometimes, it feels just like a job and nothing else. Guys, we’re creatives. We fell in love with this profession because we’re artists. We aren’t people that do statistics and desk work. We create for our clients (and ourselves). But sometimes, we get into a rut and do the same thing over and over again and that causes some burn out.
I have the cure for that. Sometimes you need to do work for yourself and not for a client. You need to rediscover the reason why you’re in that creative field in the first place. Back in the day, I design a poster series of bible stories for myself that I wanted to share with my friends and family and I loved doing them! I ended up getting featured in a gallery at Malone University! All because I wanted to be creative and do something for myself.
A couple of years ago I was feeling a photo burnout and I wanted to do a creative shoot with my cats, I ended up getting my friends cats as well and we shot this amazing photo of all of them in boxes interacting with each other, that photo got 15th place in one of the largest photo contests in the world. Guys, these wouldn’t have happened if I sat around doing nothing. So sometimes the answer to creative burnout, is to do a little more work in that field for yourself (also rewards and recognition is great, but feeling great about what you create and feeling inspired is far superior).
I hope that something out of this blog resonates with you if you’re currently going through creative burnout, or is something you can reference in the future.
Do you wanna hang out and get your photo taken? Or just in need of some rad photographers to grab some ‘za with and socially distance hang? Shoot us a message and talk to our cats (aka the office administrators) for information! Now booking for the remainder of 2020 and all of 2021.