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5 Causes of Creative Burnout — And How to Fix It

Are you feeling stuck in your creative work or drawing blanks in your meetings with clients — or even just feeling overwhelmed by tasks that used to come more easily?

You are likely dealing with a case of creative burnout. (We’ve all been there.) This is a common issue among small business owners or solopreneurs — especially in a creative space like the wedding industry.

What is creative burnout? When giving an interview about burnout, Frankl Chimero put it best when he said — “Fatigue happens to your body, but burnout exhausts your soul. Long hours of wasteful drudgery rub up against the belief that anything is possible. What can you do with that other than collapse?”

 The good news is that this isn’t a permanent condition. We’re here to help you get to a better space with tips on how to avoid creative burnout. (If you feel you’re already in creative burnout mode — keep reading for some practical solutions to get you back on track.)

Before you read any further, let’s get this out in the open —

This resource isn’t about you fixing a problem you created. Creative burnout happens to people who care a lot and want to do good work. It often comes from good intentions or genuine stresses or concerns, so we don’t want to compound stress here. Take a deep breath and let’s talk about these solutions that will help — not add to your workload.

WHAT CAUSES CREATIVE BURNOUT?

Creativity isn’t something that you can just conjure upon demand. It is a finite resource and it needs to be managed and replenished.

Small Biz Trends highlights just how common this problem is for creative business owners —

  • More than three in four or 77% of small businesses said they feel the effects of burnout at work some of the time
  • Over 50 years of age report a burnout rate of 59%. 
  • The number goes much higher for those between 35 to 50 years at 84%.

For millennials, those 18 to 34 years old, it goes up by 10 percentage points to 94%.

Now that we know how often it happens, it’s important to understand how it happens.

Here are just a few of the causes of creative burnout — (Does any of this sound familiar?)

1. Perfectionism

Even the most well-meaning version of perfectionism will cause creative burnout. In an effort to serve their clients, many creatives push themselves too hard and expect, well — perfection. Perfectionists are often taking on too many responsibilities and combining that with unrealistic expectations of themselves. 

  • Pro-Tip for Combating Creative Burnout by Perfectionism

Plan purposeful slow times in your day, week, month, or yearly calendar. Whatever works best for you is good, but the point is to find time to get still and let your creative juices flow.

2. Not Having Boundaries or Restrictions

Small business owners — especially creatives — struggle in this area because creative work doesn’t always happen in the 9-5 space, but letting everything run amuck in your time and personal space is one of the quickest ways to deplete that store of creativity. 

  • Pro-Tip for Combating Creative Burnout by Not Having Boundaries 

Learn to say no. For a business owner and a creative, this can feel stressful because you don’t want to miss opportunities, but if you don’t learn to say no to things that aren’t important to you, you’re actually saying no to what you value most because you won’t have the energy or creativity to put your best effort into it.

3. Self-Doubt

This is a tough one to confront because it looks like humility to some, but self-doubt or negativity is only another version of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Everyone has setbacks and every person deals with imposter syndrome. If you allow self-doubt to stick around too long, it is no longer an internal issue. It’s now affecting your bottom line and preventing people from enjoying the benefits of your creativity.

  • Pro-Tip for Combating Creative Burnout by Self-Doubt

Often, self-doubt needs a perspective change. Here’s something to remember the next time you deal with the various aspects of self-doubt…

  • Even the best Hall of Fame baseball players only hit 3 out of 10 up-to-bats (4 is considered unattainable). And yet, creatives often feel like if they don’t hit a home run every time, they’ve failed. (That’s far from true.) 
  • Mozart’s teacher told him that as a composer he was hopeless.
  • Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor for not having any good ideas.
  • A producer told Oprah she was unfit for television news. 

World-famous, talented businessman and women — and creatives have dealt with self-doubt whether from external sources or internal pressures. 

It’s also helpful to talk to a trusted friend, peer, or mentor about it to help get a better perspective, but ultimately, the solution comes from you.

4. Stress

It can be the stress of running a small business or something that is happening outside the work realm, but stress not only causes creative burnout — it has physical symptoms as well. Your work comes with early mornings, long nights, working through weekends and holidays with hardly time to take a sick day. That can take a toll on your creativity, yets, but also your health.

  • Pro-Tip for Combating Creative Burnout by Stress

Physical activity reduces stress, improves mood — and helps your creativity! 

A study at Stanford found that walking boosted creative inspiration by 60%.

According to Stanford News — 

The study found that walking indoors or outdoors similarly boosted creative inspiration. The act of walking itself, and not the environment, was the main factor. Across the board, creativity levels were consistently and significantly higher for those walking compared to those sitting.”

Stress also produces physical symptoms that can be part of contributing to creative burnout including headache, fatigue, and sleep problems, or anxiety.

As simple as it sounds, healthier eating choices, getting good sleep, taking your vitamins, and doing something active every day all help improve your mood and your stress as well as your creative output.

5. Decision Fatigue

This may be the single most common contributor to creative burnout of all five causes we’re covering today. 

Experts estimate that humans make 35,000 remotely conscious decisions a day. (According to Cornel University, we make over 200 on food alone.)  We can safely say that creatives and small business owners make even more. 

And the average person switches between tasks more than 300 times per day, based on decision fatigue research from RescueTime

The problem? The more decisions you make, the worse you get at making them. Essentially, it means that your judgment and willpower deplete with every decision. 

The solution? Experts agree that the solution is to simplify your decisions, make the more important decisions earlier in the day, and delegate work that doesn’t have to be done by only you. 

  • Pro-Tip for Combating Creative Burnout by Decision Fatigue 

Delegate responsibility. 

In addition to upgrading your creative output, delegating responsibility helps your bottom line, according to Small Biz Trends

  • Business owners and CEOs who delegate have been shown to generate 33% more revenue than those with low delegations skills. 
  • 33% of small business owners have job openings they can’t fill.
  • 23% cite finding qualified workers as their single most important business problem. That’s the highest since 2000. 

At Brandlink, we can help you avoid creative burnout and increase your bottom line at the same time by being your partner in the creative process.

(Check out some of the ways we’ve helped other small business owners just like you.) 

HOW BRANDLINK HELPS SMALL BUSINESSES AVOID CREATIVE BURNOUT?

Instead of trying to find one person — and overwork them into creative burnout while trying to avoid it yourself, let Brandlink be the team that helps you tackle your to-do list and partners with you in the creative process. 

Three Things You Get With Brandlink

  1. A full team of experts in their field with unique perspectives to infuse your business with and the tools to get the job done and make your creative vision come to life!
  2. Actionable plans and measurable results that actually reduce your marketing expense in the long run by making the most of your investment. 
  3. The confidence to delegate tasks and the ability to focus on what you do best. 

Are you ready to get started? Schedule a free consultation.

AVOIDING FUTURE CREATIVE BURNOUT

We’ve covered a lot about the causes of creative burnout, how to combat them with some pro-tips and insights. 

Here’s a quick summary of tips to help you avoid future burnout

  • Make time for restorative activities.  Plan fun or interesting things into your day or week — this goes a long way in making you a better creative and business owner.
  • Prioritize your health and stay active. Activity boosts creativity and lowers stress. 
  • Simplify your decision making. Save your best for the most important tasks and simplify the rest.
  • Delegate and allow someone to share the workload. Focus on what you do best. 

Ready to beat creative burnout and enjoy productive  — restorative creative work again? Contact Brandlink today with the items you are thinking about delegating and let us be your partner in this process.

Aren’t sure what you need to delegate? We can help with that too! We are run by creatives who love to help fellow creative small business owners tackle their to-do list and enjoy being their best creative selves!

Drop us a line at

hello@brandlinkmedia.com or call the office at 405.607.2092
to talk with us today (fun fact: a real, live human answers our phone).

We can’t wait to create something great for you. 

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