How I Avoid Art Burnout Though Work/Life Balance

If you ever go to a gathering with a group of professional artists, we often go back to one topic: burnout. Burnout is inevitable when your hobby becomes your job. Finding that original passion for your hobby can be a challenge day-to-day when you start feeling the burnout. I consider myself lucky because sometimes after a full day of drawing, I can still sit down to draw for fun. Though I do experience burnout, I have made a routine that works for me and because of that I experience burn out a lot less now than I used to.

The key for me is balance.

I break down art into two categories: ‘fun’ art and ‘work’ art. Sometimes I do ‘work’ art exploration (techniques/styles/technical skills) within my ‘fun’ art, but I try to keep my ‘fun’ art separate where I can. It is why I draw so much fan art in my spare time! It is also why I believe in making specific time for my ‘fun’ art — because it is important to my art practice on a whole.

I recognize that some of these things are sacrifices others cannot afford — but I have adjusted my life to this balance. I make financial decisions and sacrifices to achieve this balance, like turning away work if it means working on the weekend. I have been vocal about my health journey with OCD and chronic pain and making sacrifices in other parts of my life to allow myself to be in the best health I can be. These things have been a top priority for me. Achieving a balance to allow this is now something I practice daily, allowing lots of room for learning as I go.

My Work/Life Balance Guidelines:

+ Only email during business hours.

+ Write everything down in a hard copy calendar (including showering/tv/reading).

+ Check the things off so I feel like I’m making progress.

+ Work and draw in a designated space (if I am having a chronic pain flare up I use a laptop on the couch — not in bed, ever).

+ Spend full days not working when I can. When my schedule is lighter, I allow myself to take days off because I know I will make up for that during a deadline.

+ Take weekends off.

+ Draw for fun where I can by making time for it as a priority separate from WorkArt.

+ Exercise regularly when I am able.

+ Spend time doing things I love that have nothing to do with my WorkArt practice: outdoor adventures, baking, cooking, sewing, hanging with pets, etc…

+ Continue my exposure therapy (OCD CBT therapy) especially when I don’t want to.

+ Make sure to see and meet up with friends regularly.

+ Work within my best hours for max productivity and stop at night to relax at least 2 hrs before bed.

This is in no way perfect nor perfected. These are just the simple guides I have made so I can avoid burnout and still enjoy art as a hobby and a job. So far it is working for me well and while these guides can get shifted when I am on deadline or in need of raising my income, I am strict with my balance and making sure I take care of myself physically and mentally first. The key here is to equal out your schedule with work and health. Healthy is fun! Fun is healthy. Balance is an equilibrium, which can be easy to see once you map out your weeks as I do. 

Care for yourself and find your own guides — it’s important to your art practice!

How do you avoid burnout?

3 comments

  1. Amy says:

    I go to be early. Take a hike/exercise and look at everything around me…people, art, nature!

  2. That’s something I’m still struggling with, but I’m slowly easing in exercise and doing more personal art. If i tried to change direction too quickly, I’ll fall back into old habits almost immediately.

  3. Annie Lynn says:

    Hey Lily, would it be weird, or is it appropriate to ask you to dm me on twitter about OCD. I could use some insight. It’s fine if you aren’t comfortable. I have followed your struggle to come out on top and better, and I admire your strength. also my email is on my website, on twitter. Thanks and keep up the great work! ✌🏼💁🏼🎶🎨📚😊

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.