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3 Ways to Avoid Productivity Burnout

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when there’s a lot of work to be done. Here’s how to make it manageable.

4 min read

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As a composer, producer and editor with my own home studio, the shutdown didn’t change my workflow very much at first. I was used to being productive in my pajamas. The only difference now was that instead of choosing to work from home, I became obligated to work from home like everyone else.

Suddenly, my business partners and creative collaborators were all distraction-free. With no commute times, no social events and little reason to leave the house, our attitudes towards productivity changed. As weeks turned into months, the landscape of remote work encouraged an environment where people were expected to be on-call at all times, crank up their productive output and meet even faster deadlines. 

Media consumption skyrocketed, and as someone who also works in post-production, I saw how the demand put a huge strain on the industry and its workers. We were pulling all-nighters to keep up with demand.

But quarantining did something to my work ethic: My productivity became unmatched. As the weeks went on, I found myself not only keeping up with the pace, but also beating deadlines. I became an unstoppable force of productivity. Meanwhile, though, I was mentally exhausted. 

When the world started opening back up, more jobs came in that expected me to keep up with the new pace. I got my work done, but I’m ashamed to admit that I found myself compartmentalizing and avoiding certain aspects of my work — which I hadn’t experienced before. I felt frazzled, couldn’t concentrate, and tasks that I ordinarily would finish before my second cup of coffee were getting pushed to well into the evening. 

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when there’s a lot of work to be done. That’s why it’s crucial to break up every project into smaller tasks. 

Related: 10 Signs You’re Burning Out (And How To Stop It)

1. Pre-plan your planning stage

It might sound redundant, but it works: Plan out the how and when of the planning phase itself. Schedule a couple hours out of your morning to do nothing but analyze the resources you need to finish a project. Are there missing elements you’re waiting on other people to finish? Send those emails and texts. Is it something that requires equipment or software? Set it up and update that software. Get your resources together first, then planning will follow.

2. Break the task down into bite-sized pieces

Big projects seem daunting when described in a single sentence. Tasks like “finish editing music video,” “make a new website” or “put together press releases for next month’s album drops” are way too big for one sentence. Instead, break every single project up into small, digestible tasks that you can check off slowly throughout the week. Take that Godzilla-sized project and turn it into a spreadsheet with hundreds of smaller elements for you to chip away at. It will not only help with your focus, but also give you a confidence boost in knowing you’re getting the job done.

Related: 8 Ways Successful People Beat Procrastination

3. Consider outsourcing some of the work

No matter what industry you’re in, you probably know someone trying to get a foot in the door. Use his or her hunger for experience to your advantage by outsourcing some of that work you have on your plate. If it involves writing, then find a freelancer with affordable rates. If it’s design or editing, find someone who’s just starting his or her career to help you out. Even if a project requires overall expertise that only you can provide, there are definitely smaller parts that can be outsourced. Analyze those smaller parts and ask yourself which ones you would feel comfortable assigning to someone else.

Related: How to Build a Better Business with Outsourcing

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