The wall. We’ve all hit it at some point. Every department has their own version of it. Writer’s block. Coding burnout. Wireframing woes. You can hit it before you’ve even started working just as easily as hitting it while you’re working. But hitting that invisible (yet palpable) wall can leave you feeling like you’re tapped out, out of focus, or idealess. However, over the years, I’ve discovered ways to break through that dreadful mentality. Here are some of my handy tips for combating burnout:
Work on multiple projects.
I discovered this method through painting. I found that it was extremely helpful to always have two or three paintings to work on instead of just one. It would allow me to take a break from one concept but still keep the brush in my hand. In marketing, this would translate to breaking from the concept, not the skill (writing, design, etc.) itself.
Change your environment.
If you’re normally tied to a desk, find a new spot! Work from an unused conference room (or company lounge if you’re lucky enough to have one)! Or if you can take your work on-the-go, find a space close by that you can be productive in. If you have a work-from-anywhere privilege, this would be an excellent time to take advantage of it.
Bounce ideas off with a coworker or colleague.
Find someone in your world that you can have constructive conversations with. I recommend not having these conversations with friends and family, as more often than not, they take you down the rabbit hole, even with the best of intentions. This person doesn’t necessarily need to work for the same company as you, but should have a relatable skill set to explore various approaches with.
Pick up a marker.
Sketch, write, draw, doodle, squiggle. Just don’t type. Your fingertips need a rest, too. Sometimes you are able to come to different conclusions or concepts to work with when you’re holding a colorful felt-tipped pen rather than clickety-clacking on a keyboard.
Look at old school (printed) marketing.
Look through (actual) books. Keep a pile of (print) ads that excite you nearby. Leave your gadgets behind and walk around your nearest downtown area and look for craftsmanship. You’ll be shocked at what you discover when you’re paying attention. And hopefully, you’ll come back with a few ideas of your own.
Step away from the screen. I repeat, step away from the screen. Yes, that means your phone, too. Give your eyes (and your mind) a break. If you can, go for a walk outside and get some fresh air. It is amazing what going for a walk will do.
I encourage finding healthy outlets for relaxation like practicing yoga, hitting the trails, reading a book, working out, or cooking a delicious meal. However, the point is to do whatever you need to do to relax. Sometimes your brain just needs to “breathe.”
You should anticipate burnout to happen on occasion, but treat it like a cue to pivot instead of a hindrance. It’s merely an indicator that it is time to change something up, and to do something.