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Five ways to avoid burnout as a creative professional

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We will forever remember the past 16 months as the moment in which mankind realised they could be as productive from home as they are in the office – if not even more. Sadly, it was also a time of pay cuts, layoffs and job losses. A time when a number of creative professionals turned to freelance lives to break even.

As the world opens up again, we will all be met with a number of new creative and business opportunities. It may be tempting to get lost in the heat of the moment, but we should never forget about the importance of our own mental health. Burnout is always looming around the corner, and it can hit when you least expect it to. How can freelancers and creative professionals avoid burnout in the new normal?

We reached out to Donna Torres, General Manager of SMB Sales & Operations UK & EMEA at Xero, to discuss the topic in more depth below.

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Five Ways To Avoid Burnout As A Creative Professional

As the world opens up again, many of us will find ourselves in new and exciting working environments. And while exploring the world can be a great opportunity to find creative inspiration, it’s more important than ever to ensure that you take steps to create some separation and avoid burnout - a common issue faced by creatives. 

Here are five ways to help avoid burnout:

1. Learn How To Turn Off

As a creative, your work is your passion. It’s easy for it to become a fundamental part of your everyday routine, but this makes it difficult to separate work life from home - especially now that things are opening up again and it can be tempting to make up for lost time. 

Try to keep to normal working hours, and avoid working late into the evening where possible. It’s vital to ensure a distinction between your working day and your time to relax, otherwise you’re more susceptible to burnout. Working after hours can actually make you less productive, too - because you’re less able to switch off when it counts. Small things like clearing your work space away at the end of the day will make a big difference. 

2. Ask yourself regularly: “how am I doing?”

Prioritising your wellbeing should be just as much a part of your daily routine as a to-do list is. Physical and emotional burnout can sometimes be tracked back to elements of your lifestyle, such as diet, exercise and sleep.

Rest is crucial. We’ve all experienced those times when creative juices are flowing and it’s tempting to stay up late working on it — but without the right sleep, your week is not going to be as productive as it could be. Exercise is also important, even if it’s just once or twice a week or going for some short walks in the day to get some space away from your screen. There are a number of great workplace apps such as Unmind who can help business owners and their employees with their wellbeing.

3. Stay on top of things

Time management in fast-paced agency life can be difficult, especially when you are first starting out.

When you’re overwhelmed, everything on your to-do list might seem like it needs to be done ASAP, but in reality most of the time tasks can be split into ‘urgent and ‘important’. Prioritising tasks is key to focus the mind. Apps like Wunderlist and Todoist can help you to prioritise, set reminders and share your work load with colleagues whilst working remotely too.

Always be realistic with how much you can accomplish in one day. If you commit to doing too much in an unrealistic time frame, it is likely that you will feel more burned out. 

4. Feel in control of your finances

Freelance creatives are always worrying about cash flow and profit and loss sheets - especially at the moment. If you have a comprehensive bookkeeping system set up, you will feel more  in control of your finances.

Cloud accounting software can be used from any device - all you need is an internet connection. It gives you an up-to-date snapshot of how your business is doing,  giving you the insights you need to make the right decisions for your company. The time consuming accounting tasks are automated, and anyone from your team who needs to can access information and collaborate on activity.

5. Give yourself a break

Although we’re not able to freely go abroad at the moment, that doesn’t mean you should go without a holiday. Book a day or two of annual leave if possible to switch off.

And if that’s not possible, try to schedule some down time every day, the same way you would a meeting. Whether it’s getting out on your daily walk or run, or listening to your favourite podcast, ensure that you’re getting away from your desk and taking your mind off work.

Work can be all consuming. Implementing a routine which includes downtime is going to benefit both you and your business in the long-run. A brain that’s allowed to switch off works more efficiently when it needs to be switched on.

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