For the first blog post of 2020, I figured we could tackle project burnout, a concept that is common among many people, not just creative types. Of course, this is tailored towards writers. If you haven’t experienced project burnout, you are godlike, or you haven’t quite pushed yourself far enough over the edge. That’s okay. You’ll get there. For the rest of us, project burnout is a very familiar and dreadful experience.
What Is Project Burnout?
If you are unfamiliar with the term or haven’t experienced project burnout, let me tell you what it is. Project burnout is when you have taken on too much work for too long and the burden weighs you down. You face a massive mental wall. Your productivity ceases to exist. What you think you can do in half an hour is either impossible or takes you twice as long. You feel a sickening sensation within you, physically and mentally. The thought of doing work becomes so for that you despise even looking at it. It’s unhealthy.
What To Do When You Have Project Burnout
Everyone has their way of getting out of project burnout or avoiding. In this blog post, we are going to look at a few examples that you can try if you’re finding yourself stuck in a rut. Or if you are not, these are some methods to help avoid burnout. Bookmark this blog post for future use. I guarantee that you will end up at project burnout at some point in your life again.
Method 1: Stop Working
Duh. It sounds easier than it is. Sometimes you can stop working. Sometimes you cannot. We will tackle that in method two. Projects can accumulate all at once that it creates a snowball effect rolling downhill. The snowball gets bigger and bigger, picking up more snow – projects – as it accelerates. If you have the option to stop working, do it. Even for 10 minutes, or an evening. Pause your projects and soak in reality; it goes a long way. Do this because we get so hung up on the work that it creates tunnel vision and we forget what is right in front of us. So stop.
Method 2: Drop What Is Unneeded
If you are unable to stop working, due to the urgency of projects, drop what is unneeded. Perhaps you don’t clean that week or are you order takeout, so you don’t have to cook. Remove some of the additional tasks that aren’t a make it or break it scenario. Dropping tasks will vary depending on your life and your other responsibilities. Think about what can be pushed aside during this crunch time so you can put more careful time into the work the needs to get done.
Method 3: Remember What Is Fun
Why did you start writing to begin with? Remember that. As authors, we wear so many hats, which creates many additional tasks. Some we may not like. It is easy to get wrapped up in the chaos of deadlines, word counts, reviews, and so on. You can go insane. If you’re stuck in project burnout, remember why you started writing. Questioning yourself can lead to an existential crisis, believe me. Discussing that state of mind is a blog post on its own. It’s healthy to question yourself. Why are you writing? Why are you marketing? Why are you writing blog posts? Remember what got you started. With writing, chances are you enjoy it because of the characters you create, because of the unknown at the end of that last word you typed. Get back to basics.
Method 4: Learn Something New
Project burnout is often due to the continual strain on the mind. One helpful way of breaking out of project burnout is to put your mind in a new state of being. This is achieved by learning. When you are studying something new, it forces your brain to work in new ways, breaking your thinking patterns. It is a bit of a roundabout way to handle project burnout. Learning brings back the inner discoverer in you, which leads us to the last method.
Method 5: Take the Time
Project burnout happens. It sucks. Ultimately it takes time to get through. You can try and power through it, thinking it will go away, but that will make you resent everything more. Trying to ignore it doesn’t help either. This will reflect in your attitude, the quality of your work, and your personal life, whether you know it or not. So, don’t try and take a shortcut. When you realize you are experiencing project burnout or see it on the horizon, accept it, and work your way through it. In the end, it is only you that can pull yourself out of that rut. Take the time and do not beat yourself up.
Stay Clear of Icy Ground
Once you experience project burnout, it is a dread that you will not forget. It requires humility and discipline to remind yourself that you need to slow down and not take on so much work. Sometimes the work does pile up all at once, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Remembering your mental exercises of handling project burnout will help you avoid it or face it healthily when you are in doubt.
Do you have any methods of handling project burnout? I’d love to hear them, feel free to share in the comments.