Being a person with an extremely active imagination can be seen as a gift and a curse at times. While I find myself able to conjure up multiple ideas in various scenarios, this can be exhausting. Having worked in spaces in which designers were treated as conveyor belts for ideas, I can speak to the notion of burn-out and creative road-blocks. Throw a bit of anxiety in the mix and it's a party, and not the good kind.
Your Work is Not More Valuable than You, the Creative Professional
Creativity is not just a talent or passion, it's also a trained skill. Similar to any other skill it must be nurtured, explored, and consistently crafted. The ability to design effectively takes practice and intentional thought. I like to think of it as working out a muscle. Without proper rest, hydration, and form you can overwork or injure a muscle. The same can be said for the mind of a Creative. It is important to take into account making yourself a priority so that your work can reflect your worth.
Getting the Project Done in the First Shot
Trying to hit a home-run for the average baseball player takes years of skill and practice. The same thought should be applied to designs and creative professionals. Revisions are necessary to drill down an idea to the exact vision of your clients. Designers are not mind readers, but they should work to be a good communicator. That will ensure the needs and expectations of the client are fulfilled. Assumptions and guesses are the easiest way to kill a project. I find it best to reach out to the client if there are questions, especially those that will affect the end goal.
Check-In with Yourself & Your Overall Capacity
Biting off more than you can chew will always bite you in the butt. Doing so under extreme fatigue or emotional distress does not profit you, your client, or their stakeholders. We can not take on every job that comes into our queue. Life will happen and we must give it space to do so. There are simply things we don't have control over. But we do have control over the commitments we sign on for when taking on a new client.
Speaking from experience, I have been in scenarios where I have piled on my work load in an attempt to stay continuously busy. But this left little room for inspirational thinking or any sudden hiccups that might surface in my personal life. Unfortunately, I did learn the hard way when the projects became backed-up due to personal life events. Personal roadblocks do not change your deadlines. In hindsight, I know that allowing space in timelines for the unknown is necessary. Your clients will not always be ready when you need to move and it is in those moments you will need to operate from a place empathy, not your timeline objectives.
Being honest with your clients about your capacity for new assignments will foster trust between you both. Letting your client know when a project is falling behind in advance will also help manage expectations. However, underdelivering and lack of communication will do the exact opposite. Check in with your mental and physical capacity to take on additional work. Once you have assessed these appropriately you can ensure the level of quality at its best.
Don't be afraid to say "No".
Not every project will be the best fit for your brand. Not every opportunity will benefit your company's growth. It's important to be the best advocate for your brand you can be. Do not treat your skillset as a one size fits all brand. Saying no allows room for the projects that align with you business best to be successfully executed. This will also help prevent burnout. Saying "No" today leaves opportunity for "Yes" to something greater down the road.
In conclusion, the design process can be draining for any creative professional who has not put a plan together to keep their mental health in check. Burn out is an inevitable outcome for those who struggle for those who fail to do so. Check-in with yourself, and be realistic with your goals and timelines. Don't put so much stress on yourself to get the project knocked out on the first round, revisions are ok. Lastly, therapy and meditation work wonders to relieve stress and create an additional outlet for mental stress. Whether you use and app or seek professional assistance these measures should provide a great step forward in stress relief and management. In doing so you will positively impact your creative process.