Overworking Is Self-Sabotage, Especially When You’re A Creative

It’s no secret that here in the United States work/life balance isn’t exactly integrated as a healthy social norm. In just about every industry, stress and burnout have become glorified experiences of the “hardworking” professional. Yet, even on those rare occasions when you can finally slow down and catch a breath, you might still find yourself wondering, “Am I doing enough?”

As a freelance writer and professional content creator, I understand that inquiry far too well. However, in my experience I have found little benefit to being “perpetually busy.” And it looks like I’m not alone. In fact according to research, overwork has proven to show few results in terms of successful output. Ironically though, it has been linked to employee health concerns, sleep trouble and even performance drop off.

So what does this mean for the creative community at large? Well, if you’re regularly burning the candle at both ends, it may be time to rethink your workflow.

Whether you’re an art minded individual working within a traditional business environment or hustling as a full time freelancer, monetizing your creativity means becoming a part of the machine. However, given the climate of our current business structure and the unique challenges that come with being a creative, it’s especially important to avoid jumping on the overworked bandwagon.

Here’s why.

To create, you must first be willing to live.

Whether your art is a reflection of life’s happier moments or the inspiration drawn from difficult times, you cannot create without experience. And so, while it may feel productive to skip important social events or trips with loved ones, sticking to that daily grind may actually be doing the opposite. Choosing to circumvent life only results in depletion. Whereas when you engage with positive, meaningful experiences, you take time to not only feed your soul, but to feed your creativity, too.

You cannot drink from an empty glass.

Sure cranking out work may feel great at first, but is it really a sustainable way of creating? If not, then you may want to consider approaching your flow from a different angle. Just as this metaphor suggests, it’s impossible to create from something that which is not there. So, if you’re feeling burnt out or exhausted, it may be time to take a rest. Giving yourself a well deserved respite (even if only for an hour or two) can not only help you physically, but also provide a sense of mental clarity you may not have otherwise found.

Art in any form is meant to be unique.

As you likely know, being different isn’t a choice or a luxury for the creative professional. Instead, it’s a prerequisite. It’s the essence of what you do and ultimately, what you create. Unfortunately, overwork is the thief of imagination, and so when you spend too much time on the machine, you’re bound to look like everyone else on it. Whether it’s writing or graphic design, you have succeeded up until this point because of the unique spin you place on the world. So it’s important to remember that having the courage to step away from the status quo isn’t a sign of failure, but rather a demonstration of foresight. It’s a show of support for your craft, as well as your place within it.