Burnout is a popular topic currently, and rightly so.
Every creative role has a culture of overworking to stay ahead. No-one should be expected to work more than they are paid for, but so many of us still do.
YouTube is not exempt from this. And in a climate where ad revenue is experiencing crippling lows, creators are overwhelming themselves in order to make a living.
We put the question to our panel of industry experts in a bid to figure out what is causing burnout among this generation of creators and how they can work to avoid it.
Pascal Clarysse started looking for so-called Growth Hacks a good decade before the buzzword was coined.
Clarysse used to be the marketing driving force at Lik-Sang.com, where he was in charge of relentlessly spotting new trends, waves and magic holes. In recent years, he's served as a marketing consultant for various indie studios, participating in launching mobile games and the occasional Kickstarter campaign.
Having suffered burn out in 2003, I will share here a few tricks I've developed in my routine to avoid it since:
- Most of the pressure you perceive actually comes from yourself. Only 20 per cent or so of the pressure is external and tied to contracts, promises you made, hard deadlines etc. The other 80 per cent are challenges, dates, goals you have set for yourself. Be less hard on yourself. What is promised has to be delivered. The rest, you can always postpone. You're your own boss; don't be too rigid!
- Don't promise too much. Learn to say "no". Learn to say "later". Learn to say "let me see what we can do".
- If you're irritable every morning lately, it's time for a break. Go on holiday right now. Your audience will still be there in a week or two waiting for you. I swear.
- Sports and physical exercice is good for your body and for your brains. So is walking in the sun.
- You are what you eat. Eat nuts, red fruit, avocado and all those super food that are full of antioxidants which will trim the fat out of your brain. Oh and potassium too (bananas) so you have ample supply of oxygen to those brains all day long.
- Sleep regularly and enough hours. Sleep deprivation makes you slower, less intelligent and less happy. Fact.
- Do one thing at a time. Finish it. Then move on to the next. Too many windows open on your desktop is not a productive habit. And it's not good for your mental happiness either. "Noise" is the enemy, in all its forms.
- Talk to someone about your feelings. Someone you can trust. Don't act like everything is perfect out of vanity or pride or even timidity. Express yourself about those deeper thoughts under the surface. It's harder but it's liberating.
- Celebrate your victories. Take a tiny bit of time to enjoy the ride.
Burning out in the creator space boils down to time management and having too aggressive of a to-do list with things that never seem to get ticked off; you know, the things that seem to reappear on every new list that gets created but never seems to get crossed off!
The good news is that this can be easily solved by adopting a 'get shit done' kind of mentality and prioritising the things that are least fun for the talent and simply Getting. Them. Done!
Sadly (for markets and advertisers) it's most often 'the brand deal' that sticks around that to-do list for far too long, stressing talent out and causing unnecessary stress. Though these days, talent won't really accept a brand partnership that doesn't fit with their channel or isn't something that gets them hyped up to be a part of... it still introduces guidelines and expectations that talent are contracted to meet, make happen and include in their content.
That content is vastly different from their usual content, where they are the boss and ultimately have the final say! We hear it all the time, that a simple call to action doesn't seem to roll of the tongue the same way their usual call outs do or that certain talking points just don't sound right; all super frustrating for a creator who is trying to work a brand effortlessly and organically into their content.
These deterrents leave that brand deal to hover over their heads and ultimately stress them out!, leaving to that burnt out, gotta sleep it off kind of feeling. Procrastination is killer. Talent who get a brief and dive straight in, delivering first edits early and hammering out requested amends like a pro are usually the ones who can manage to get to sleep at night, and maintain a healthy relationship with their to-do list!
The creators that are able to prevent burnout are the ones that excel at time management, know how to focus on one project at a time, understand how to build a quality team around themselves.
It's important that creators realise what work is essential and what work can be handled by lower-level employees.Phil Ranta
When I talk to creators that are heading towards burnout, I ask them to write down what they do for every minute of every day for a week. When I read their list, it's immediately clear that half of their day is spent on work that adds little or no value.
It's important that creators realise what work is essential, what work can be handled by lower-level employees (sorting inbound brand requests, moderating comments, transcriptions, editing, etc.), and what work can be cut completely (half-focusing on social platforms, over-collabing, micro-managing DMs, etc.)
My rule of thumb: if your baseline work is over 50 hours per week then you're at risk for burnout. Time to bring in help or cut projects.
Further to Phil’s point, help is a key word.
One of the best ways creators can keep doing what they are great at which is creating is to bring on help. While Phil used a time commitment as a signal to get help I think revenue can also be a great indicator.
I think another indication a creator may be able to skip out on burnout is the size of their team. As a Creator if you can surround yourself with some form of great management or negotiation, legal, accounting and editing staff you are in a good place.
All of the professional services mentioned want to see creators spend more time doing what they’re great at so they will lovingly remove burdensome tasks so you can focus.