How to overcome saturation creative business

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10 years ago, I was on the verge of creative business burnout.

Which feels ridiculous, because I’ve only been… three years in business.

It was my spring wedding season, and I had a few weeks where I had weddings every weekend, weeklong engagement sessions, and I was completely immersed.

I can barely get one week’s work done before the next rolls around, but I can’t slow down or take time off because the thought of the pile of work makes the anxiety build up in my chest.

At the end of each workday, I have a toast.

Shoot- finally, I toast at the BEGINNING of the work day.

I’d sit down at my desk, and it felt like a waste. What’s the point of trying to put a dent in my to-do list, when it’s going to be insurmountable the next day?

Might as well go back to bed.

Fatigue sucks. It steals your passion, your energy, your joy. And it can turning you into a bitter shell of your former artistic self, if you’re not careful.

So here’s my one-two punch tonic for tackling fatigue head-on, and kicking it to the curb:

Refill your tank after saturation of creative business |  Abby Grace photography

But first… let’s define burnout

My definition? He working too hard, too long, for too little results.

According to this MayoClinic article, fatigue can be caused by:

  • Lack of control
  • Unclear job expectations
  • Dysfunctional workplace dynamics
  • Extreme activity
  • Lack of social support
  • Work life imbalance

And for me, that manifests itself in feelings like don’t want to answer new emails or questions, or do not want to take my camera. I remember feelings disconnected from my original purpose or mission.

Burnout can look any way you want burn your whole business because you are so tired of busyness.

Refill your tank after saturation of creative business |  Abby Grace photography

Next up: how did we get here?

If any of that sounds familiar to where you are now, or where you have been in the past, we need to find out: what happened that we landed here?

Is that a problem…

  • Becoming too scheduled?
  • Feeling overwhelmed/underqualified?
  • Inadequate compensation?
  • Lack of boundaries?
  • Certain clients causing a disproportionate amount of stress?
  • Non-work factors (such as tensions at home, financial problems) that contribute to stress at work?

Once you find out what caused you to end tired area…

Then, adjust your SOP or limits

…to help avoid similar problems in the future.

As an example: if you feel like your income isn’t enough to justify all the time it takes to complete a project, it may be time to increase your rates, or consider outsourcing part of the process.

Or if you feel like your schedule is jam-packed and you don’t have room to be creative, decide what you’re comfortable with, by scheduling, and committing to taking care of yourself. no more than X shoots per week/month.

Making a plan for how to avoid similar situations in the future will help lift your chin- there is a little light at the end of the tunnel, to help you realize this. Fatigue doesn’t have to be a permanent thing.

It doesn’t take the fatigue out of this hour of the day, but it can put some fuel back in the tank when you realize you’re not running out of gas for good.

Refill your tank after saturation of creative business |  Abby Grace photography

So you’ve assessed how you’re going to get there, you’ve pinpointed the problem, and you’ve devised a plan to avoid it in the future. The plan may not be bulletproof, but it will be better than your previous situation, and you can always change it again in the future.

So now, how do we get your mojo back? How do you get back to a place of inspiration and creativity?

Solution #1: Get going

Get out of your usual surroundings for at least two nights, but longer if you can manage. If you can get on a plane or take a long trip, fantastic. If that’s not possible, rent Airbnbs in several cities, or stay with friends an hour or two away.

You need to get some distance from your desk. Which means don’t bring work with you.

Bring something to FILL your tank – a non-business book you want to read, a coloring book, a set of paints, a set of crossword puzzles, whatever. The point here is to get your brain to stop contemplating work, let your mind wander, and rediscover creativity in something completely unrelated to work.

My go-to location is the Getaway cabin– it’s not cheap (especially when you consider that it’s a glorified trailer), but there’s something very peaceful about sitting in a Getaway cabin with huge panoramic windows, no wifi, and just the thought, a book, or your art to keep you company.

Refill your tank after saturation of creative business |  Abby Grace photography

Solution #2: Personal work

Qthis one is more long term, but you need to do it find a way out for personal work. As an artist, if you work is the only source of creativity in your life, you need to find new ways to play. It may be work-adjacent, like my ballerina series photography, but it’s not directly related to the bespoke work I do for brand clients.

Coming home from that fateful first ballerina session, I was filled with renewed energy. And that energy went into and shaped the work of my marriage, and ultimately helped shape the AG brand itself. I thought I was just using my camera to connect with the years I spent in the ballet studio, but it turns out that it changed me as an artist too.

Maybe you’re thinking about taking piano lessons, or you have a guitar that you haven’t picked up in years because you’re too busy. Maybe you have a neighbor who owns a lumber shop who offered to show you ropes, or there is a pottery class being held at your local community center. It doesn’t matter that personal work is- what’s important here is that you find the time to PLAY that doesn’t have to work. Iit doesn’t matter that the product isn’t perfect- the restoration is in the MAKING, not the final product.

Refill your tank after saturation of creative business |  Abby Grace photography

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