Feeling fed up, lacking in creativity and ready to throw in the towel?
Chances are it’s not you, it’s burnout.
Feeling under pressure, stressed out and 14 hour work days are ok occasionally. If you’re launching something new, preparing for an exhibition or on the run up to the week before Christmas, you’re likely to be a bit frazzled. However feeling like this and working like this all the time isn’t ok and shouldn’t be your norm and will quickly lead to burnout, the effects of which are devastating for your mental health and business.
I speak from bitter experience about burnout and it’s a hard lesson I experienced a few years ago in my photography business. I’d literally just started working with my first business coach and I was still in the throes of 10 shoots a week, doing all my own editing and totally changing my pricing structure. I was overwhelmed and I cracked. I felt hopeless, cried all the time (really not like me at all) and I couldn’t cope with anything. I went to a GP who misdiagnosed me with depression, then I got sent to a psychiatrist who put me on anti-depressants which did nothing other than give me insomnia (she then prescribed me sleeping tablets to combat that problem) and to make matters worse I put my back out and ended up in hospital for 3 days. If that wasn’t a sign to STOP, I don’t know what is.
Long story short, I stopped taking the tablets, rested to heal my back and went to see a therapist who helped me unpack the overwhelm and along with my business coach, put a plan in place to manage my workload better and to re-structure my business to allow for some non-work time.
If you’re reading this and can relate to the overworking and feelings of overwhelm, here are 7 things you can do to regain some control over your life and business:
- Plan your time – spend a couple of hours a week working out a schedule of what to do and when, then stick to it.
- Delegate – hire a VA to help you with admin and outsource tasks you’d prefer not to do (this was literally life changing for me)
- Revisit your pricing and make sure you’re actually making money from the work you’re doing (working 24/7 is a sign that you’re not charging enough)
- Get enough sleep – if you’re not sleeping properly or for long enough, you’ll struggle to cope.
- Take time off to rest – this can be scary to do, but perpetually working has a detrimental effect on your creativity and ultimately your profitability
- Set boundaries with your clients – make sure you’ve got set working hours – no-one will die if it an email that lands in your inbox at 9pm isn’t attended to until the next day
- Get help from a coach or mentor – you don’t know what you don’t know – we start creative businesses because we love what we do, then we have to navigate business stuff – it’s ok not to be an expert and it’s faster and ultimately cheaper to ask for expert help to get your business running more efficiently
I learnt the hard way about creating balance and the subsequent wins I’ve had because of the changes I made have been incredible: a TEDx talk, several international award wins and a photography series that went viral. None of these things would have been possible if I’d kept struggling and not asked for expert help.
Balance, time management, pricing and optimising workflow are all things I help my coaching clients with. If you’d like to find out more about how coaching could help you get your photography business back on track, please get in touch with me here to arrange a complimentary strategy call.
Just a note here about burnout – mine was misdiagnosed as depression because the symptoms are very similar, please make sure you seek professional medical help if you’re feeling down for weeks on end, unable to cope or suicidal. It can be hard to be objective when you’re feeling low and there’s absolutely no need to struggle alone.