A blank screen, a blinking cursor, a looming deadline. These are easily some of the most dreaded things. Unless creating content is your passion. In that case, these things might represent opportunity and creativity, but what happens when they lose that rosy perspective for even the most passionate among us? It happens.
In the Age of Content, Burnout is Bound to Happen
We live in the age of content — this isn’t news. For us content creators, it’s an amazing time, until the projects keep piling up and suddenly the fatigue hits.
Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. Creating content, be it writing, designing, producing videos, etc., might be your passion, but at some point or another we all hit a wall. This burnout is particularly easy to come by in today’s world, where people often spend all day at work creating content only to go home and do some more for side projects or hobbies.
So what happens when you hit a wall and content burnout sets in? You can’t just stop creating content if it’s your job. More importantly, if it’s your passion, you don’t want to stop creating new content. But still, burnout is burnout and when you’re burnt out, it shows in your content.
5 Ideas to Avoid Content Burnout
While you might never be able to avoid hitting a content burnout altogether, you can come pretty close — or at least nip it in the bud as soon as you feel it coming on. It’s just matter of knowing how you work best and when it’s time to plow forward or dial back based on that.
What exactly do those steps to avoid burnout entail? Consider these five ideas:
- Keep things varied: Stacking like tasks on top of one another is a surefire way to hit a wall when it comes to creating content. With that in mind, look for ways to mix things up. The best way to achieve this variation is with the types of activities you’re doing. For example, if you start your day with a lot of writing, follow that up with something completely different like managing graphics or reviewing performance data. Even mixing up long form and short form writing can make a big difference. Other opportunities for variation include mixing up topics and even your location (a change in background views, sounds, temperature, etc. can mean everything).
- Get a fresh perspective: Along the same lines of keeping things varied, spending too much time on one thing can cause fatigue. It can also mean you’re too close to the content to keep it moving forward. To avoid this fatigue, you need to set the piece of content aside (ideally for a couple days, but even a few hours will do if you’re on a tight deadline) so that you can come back with a fresh set of eyes. Similarly, consider bouncing ideas off of others to get any different perspectives into the mix. Beyond helping to avoid burnout, doing this is also a content development best practice.
- Consume content from others: Whether you’re reading, watching or anything else, becoming an audience member yourself can go a long way toward overcoming burnout. Not only will this help clear your mind, but it can also help inspire you by showcasing different ways to approach content. And the content you consume doesn’t even have to relate to what you do for this to hold true — good writing is good writing, powerful images are powerful images and so on, regardless of their topic.
- Know when to go and when to break: When you’re in the zone, take advantage of that mojo for all it’s worth. If that means working a little longer on one day than you expected to, do it anyway and take that time back when the burnout does hit. Which brings us to knowing when to take a break. If you feel the burnout descending and know you’ll be sitting in front of your computer for the next hour without actually producing anything of value, don’t give in and procrastinate, because that may very well extend your burnout. Instead, take an actual break from all things content to clear your mind. In addition to those breaks that come in a moment of need, be sure to schedule actual vacation time (even if it’s just a long weekend where you don’t do anything content-related) on a regular basis.
- Remember you don’t have to create all new content: When we need a new piece of content, the knee jerk reaction is usually to create something from scratch, but sometimes that’s not the best path forward. Before you start any new project, remember to take a step back and see what you can do that doesn’t involve reinventing the wheel. In other words, look for opportunities to curate content, gather user-generated content or even re-skin pieces you created previously. Each of these tactics also comes with several benefits beyond helping avoid burnout, so you definitely shouldn’t think of these as a cop-out.
Keep Turn In and Burnout Separate
Finally, always remember that your energy comes across in all of the content you produce. That means burnout not only affects how you approach the content at hand, but it also affects the end result of that content. So the best thing you can do when a burnout hits is to take a step back until you can give your content and, by extension, your audience the energy and enthusiasm they deserve.