I am currently working on two productions simultaneously. My work schedule is so jam packed that I am constantly glued to my seat in front of my workstation. Sometimes the only rest I have is when I get up to eat lunch or to take a leak. I also drive and pick up my wife from work, so the momentary break I get from that is a welcome relief. But there are times, especially on a weekend, that I am just at it for 12 hours straight, with some small window of breaks in between. It is during those times that at the near end of the day, I feel totally burned out.
That burned-out feeling is more pronounced when I am just about to finish a week’s worth of workload. You see, I make it a point to try and finish my assignments as early as possible so I can afford maybe a day’s rest. At times I am successful at that, but the complexity of my assignments varies and depending on the roll of the dice, I might get a very, very complicated sequence of scenes that no matter how hard I try to breeze through them, I could not. By the time I complete them, I am mentally exhausted.
Sometimes, I would miss my self-imposed deadline completely and would be left with a scene or two unfinished. These are the scenes that I wish would get up and magically finish by themselves! Of course, that is not possible, so I have to suck it up and dive right into it, which really contributes a lot to my creative flame fizzling out.
So what I do is I leave those scenes alone and shut all my computers down. I would plop myself on my Lazyboy and turn the TV on and just rest. I just do…nothing. I do that no matter what time of the work day I feel like it. I drop everything like a hot potato and just bum around, doing nothing.
No lawn mowing. No short trip to the mall. No driving the dirty car to the car wash. Nothing.
I might squeeze in a warm shower, perhaps to cleanse myself of the rigors of work — that’s refreshing, but other than that, nothing.
Let’s say the supposed deadline is tomorrow and late in the day today I still have three to four scenes left. I leave them alone. I just shut everything down and leave. No matter how I force myself to finish these scenes, my body and mind would just give up so there is no point in trying, so I just quit.
It helps! Taking this huge break from my routine helps to reboot my mind and body, and by the next day when I wake up to get back to work I am so fresh that I would go through those left over scenes like a hot knife through butter.
I just did that this morning. Those recent mishap with my Mac Pro and the Cintiq that I have been experiencing set me back a few days that my schedule got out of whack, leaving me a couple of left over scenes that I just can’t finish and that I have to work on overtime over the weekend. The same situation cropped up, so I employed my tried and tested technique and got off work early than normal. Suffice to say, this morning those leftover scenes are now done with time to spare and I now feel like a new born baby.
How do you deal with burn out?