Avoid the Breaking Point

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o-JOB-BURNOUT-facebookI attended a panel discussion at a producer’s conference a couple of months ago that gave aspiring producers, directors and entertainment professional’s advice on how to break into the business.

One recommendation from the industry pros during that session stressed that you need to work on more just one project at a time. And, they advised, you should not just concentrate on a project that is your “baby,” which can channel all of your creative energy in to that one piece of work. Basically, you don’t want to put all your eggs in one creative basket. Diversify.

Doing one project at a time might work in other industries, but in entertainment you always want to be juggling a few balls in the air at one time. For me, working on multiple projects has never been an issue.

Like most people in creative industries, you have your day job plus any additional projects you are working on after hours. Employers actually find it desirable that you are able to work on more than one project, as it helps to broaden your skills. Conventional wisdom says we should strive to master a skill, and that spreading yourself too thin leads to us never mastering anything. But in the media, creative, and world of production having multiple masteries in various skill sets can set you apart from others. Being a master of many in regards to creative fields is very doable. Studios and most companies in all industries that are hiring are typically looking for individuals with multiple skill sets, not a one-trick pony.

It is more common nowadays to run into individuals that can do videography, edit, design websites, write, create effects, and on and on. New hires are expected to wear a tool belt that holds various expertises, all of which can benefit their company. You need to be a 21st Century Renaissance Man/Woman to get ahead in this ultra competitive world, in which you need to know a variety of software applications accompanied with an education and hands-on knowledge of your trade.

However, even the Martha Stuarts of today can get a little burned out. I do a lot of work on the computer, whether that is writing, editing videos, working on photography, graphic design, basic HTML web design, research, and or social media/viral marketing. All of it requires time staring at the computer screen. It gets taxing fast, especially if you are juggling multiple projects.

If you are not sure if you are on the cusp of burnout, here are some warning signs to watch for, according to Psychology Today:

1. Chronic Fatique
2. Insomnia
3. Forgetfullness/impaired concentration and attention
4. Physical Symptoms
5. Increased Illness
6. Loss of Appetite
7. Anxiety
8. Anger

If you are starting to exhibit some of these signs, do not ignore them. It means you need to take a step back from all that is on your plate and take a deep breath.

Here are some simple things that you can do if you are feeling overwhelmed:

1. Take a day where you can step away from the computer and or projects you are working on. Do something that is unrelated and fun instead.

2. Exercise and get outdoors where you can enjoy at least 1 hour of sunshine.

3. Write down all the things you are currently working on and the one thing that is the highest priority.

4. If those that you are working with pressure you and repeatedly demand an ETA for a given project, cushion the time and give yourself a few extra days to get it done. It’s better to do the job correctly without rushing and without all the stress. No need to give yourself an anxiety attack because you are pushing yourself too hard. It’s better to not over promise and under deliver.

5. Once you are clear headed, tackle the project that is highest priority and, when done or satisfied with your progress, move on to the next item on your list. There are two phases when it comes to prioritizing projects, in my personal opinion: What needs to get done right now and what can wait until later.

There are so many multi-talented and skilled people out there, and it is perfectly fine to be busy. Even really busy. But we all need to take care of ourselves first and avoid pushing ourselves to burn-out levels. Make sure to get on a good sleep and exercise schedule. Also make sure you are eating right and getting enough of your daily vitamins, preferably through your diet and not relying on supplements.

Projects will get done, and there will always be another waiting for you. So be sure to take care of yourself and not over promise and over extend.

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