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Say hello to burnout

138: While burnout can make you feel like your creativity has evaporated, it's critical to remember that this is only temporary.

Alex Dovhyi
Alex Dovhyi
6 min read
Say hello to burnout

As a product designer, you must always be creative and create fresh ideas. However, contrary to popular opinion, creativity is not a simple on/off switch.

I noticed I was tired more than usual a few months back. And sometimes, I felt as if all of my creativity had vanished. I worried about starting a new task because I knew it would be challenging.

Fortunately, there were still times when I felt creative, although they were fleeting. I knew I was on the verge of burnout.

Is this a burnout?

You may be tired more than usual, or this task isn't inspiring, just like with the past several projects.

We're all unique in feeling creative. You and I could have very different reasons for having low energy, but burnout usually means we've pushed ourselves too far for too long.

This is what burnout might look like:

You're anxious about going to work or starting a new project

When creative burnout kicks in, the once exciting thought of exploring new ideas becomes scary and overwhelming. You're nervous about starting a project because you're afraid you won't be able to produce something of worth or match the expectations set on you.

Anxiety can paralyze you, leaving you with continual worry and self-doubt. What used to bring you joy and fulfillment now feels like an impossible task, worsening the symptoms of burnout.

You feel like you'll not be able to create something good

It's a frustrating feeling that consumes your creative process, causing you to doubt your abilities and question your worth as a designer. Ideas that once came easily now seem far away, and you're struggling with creative deficiency.

The anxiety of creating mediocre work hangs over you, preventing your capacity to begin or complete projects. Each attempt feels useless as self-criticism grows and suffocates your creative soul. The continual pressure to perform at a high level weighs heavily on your thoughts, weakening your confidence and trapping you in a loop of self-doubt.

This part of creative burnout can be depressing, so it's critical to confront it and figure out how to restore your faith in your creative talents.

Even simple tasks seem too difficult to handle

What was once usual or straightforward becomes an enormous challenge. Simple creative decisions that were always easy now feel difficult and mentally exhausting.

Mental tiredness and a lack of drive mix the clarity and efficiency that were previously characteristics of your work process.

Mundane tasks that should be performed quickly become tedious and time-consuming, adding to the discomfort and sense of stress.

This struggle with even the most essential components of your work clearly indicates creative burnout, signaling the need for relaxation, recovery, and new methods for reinforcing your creative flame.

Other creatives make you feel like you're not talented enough, forgetting that you only see their best work

When you see others' polished and successful work, you naturally compare yourself to them and feel unworthy. However, remember that you only see their most outstanding work, carefully picked and presented. You don't see their problems, uncertainties, or failures.

This comparison can amplify emotions of self-doubt and lower self-esteem, exacerbating creative fatigue. Remembering that everyone's journey is unique is essential; outside comparisons should not influence your value as a designer.

Accepting your creative voice and focusing on your growth will assist you in navigating this element of burnout and finding renewed inspiration inside yourself.

There could also be external reasons you feel this way. You might be dealing with hardships in your personal life. Or you could be working in a toxic environment that makes your job more difficult than it should be. It's important to acknowledge all the different factors to improve your situation.

How do we get out of there?

Burnout is difficult for everyone, but it can be especially crushing for creative professionals. Simple activities become difficult to do, and inventive work becomes practically impossible. So here are some suggestions for dealing with creative burnout.

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