May 13, 2016

Burn Out

This week has been incredible. You all have absolutely blown me away with your responses to my new website. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

But, the truth is : before this week, I had not blogged since December 31st. For the last 2 months, it’s been because I was working on the website and wanted to hold on to all of my posts until I could share them with you all in this format.. but before then, from January into early February, I did not blog and put out less work because I was burned out.

Burn out is one of those things we aren’t supposed to talk about. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s because we all want to pretend it doesn’t happen, or we fear that if we admit our feelings of being burned out, we’ll be seen as less of a successful business owner, like we didn’t care about the clients or work we did, or that we are ungrateful for the opportunities we were given. We’ve been taught to trudge on, drink our cute cup of coffee, hustle hard, be the ultimate #girlboss every single moment of every day, and wear the cute graphic tee that proclaims it, right?

Because we aren’t talking about what being burned out looks and feels like, it took some time for me to recognize it. I always imagined it was a dramatic, angry, table-flipping kind of thing. Like a tantrum. Like reaching a wall, not being able to physically or mentally go any further, wanting to quit and maybe flip-off or curse out those close enough to feel my wrath. But, it wasn’t dramatic at all. Instead, it was a slow-growing, deep-seated feeling of fatigue which ultimately led to a lack of motivation toward my business. After shooting twenty-seven weddings and 35+ weekends.. after having the year everyone strives for — all I could feel was sadness because I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to do it anymore.

Thankfully with lots of rest, prayer, time spent enjoying my family and exploring my new city, I bounced back. Here are a few steps I am working on to better manage my time and avoid ending up with those feelings of being burned out again.

1. Set working hours.

In January, I spoke at Mary + Justin Present: The Event and Mary, always so full of inspiration and insight, said in one of her talks, “I didn’t quit my 9-5 to work 24/7.” It’s such a simple statement that makes so much sense, but I had never thought of life in that way. I have carried the quote with me since — it has practically become my mantra for 2016.  Think about it, who dreams of quitting their day job to answer emails at 3:00 in the morning and miss time with their children because they have soooo much work to do? No one.

Once a week or so, I will schedule a call or Skype meeting in the evening and sometimes I will schedule sessions during the week, but when I am able to, my goal is to work between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. After 3:00 p.m. (when my son gets home from school) I want him to see me — whether I am cooking or cleaning during that time or reading a book — I just want him to see me doing something other than sitting behind my computer or looking at my phone.

2. Being intentional with my time online.

I’m a big believer in the power of social media marketing. But, I had slipped into the habit of plopping down at my desk, opening a web browser, hitting the “f” key and watching facebook pop up (because where else would I be going) and scrolling. Scrolling. Scrolling Scrolling. Then I’d go over to Instagram and scroll some more. Scrolling is not marketing. Scrolling is wasting time. When I should have been posting content, interacting with others, learning from my peers, and building community I was just scrolling. Now, I only allow myself to stay on social media (I haven’t quite broken the habit of plopping down and hitting the “f” key) if I am being intentional with my time. If I catch myself idly scrolling and half-reading posts, I close my browser window.

3. Learning to take a day off.

Working seven days a week is not cool. But, photography requires working most Saturdays and some Sundays. So, each week I make a point to rest at least one day. I usually spend half of that day grocery shopping or catching up on laundry, which arguably isn’t resting… but it’s a start.

With the bulk of wedding season still ahead of me, I know that these steps are just a start and that I will have to stay on top of keeping my life in balance… Have you ever felt burned out? If so, what steps are you taking to avoid it happening again?

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