Today’s topic is appropriate to me because I might be the biggest offender in this category. Thinking and acting. It’s sadly rather easy to think yourself into exhaustion. That looming To-Do list is never ending and even when you’ve accomplished everything on the list, you still could be practicing instead of taking (a much needed) break. A writer is always writing, even when the pen isn’t on the page. But, is this the best thing for your work?Well, today we’re going to answer that question. Today I’m on your side! Yes, it’s a special day because I’m advocating laziness.
(Albeit, planned laziness… I know, I’m such a stick in the mud.)
In past posts, I’ve said a few times how important it is to set aside time to not do anything. Today, I am going to repeat myself and say schedule time to not do ANYTHING! Don’t think about your to-do list. Don’t write lyrics in your mind. Don’t contact venues. Don’t practice. Don’t think about practicing, simply just… be. If you catch yourself thinking about music – force yourself to stop.
I like to use the example of a car engine (Don’t worry, I know very little about cars). It will be a shallow analogy. Have you ever driven up a mountain at high speed? I recall a stretch of highway in Colorado where you climb and climb and climb; and as you climb your car revs up to a high RPM to help keep the car moving fast.
The harder and more prolonged the climb, the higher the RPM’s and the more gas you burn. I imagine that you would destroy your engine pretty quick if you left it at a high RPM for an extended period. WELL – in this analogy, your mind is the engine, and your life is that mountain. If you’re consistently thinking about that to-do list, if you’re always writing, if you are still practicing, you are going to burn out, and you’re going to burn out quickly. Maybe you already are burnt out. Let’s list off some things to help us get into the resting mindset.
1 You are in charge here – Being self-made has its benefits! Your boss usually isn’t a dick – Which is cool! But you also have to push-push-push to make anything happen for yourself. Which seems to go against the purpose of this post… BUT even when you push yourself to make things happen for you, you still need to set time apart to take care of yourself. If you need to take a break, you’re the only one you report to – take the damn break.
I like this article from money.com – It’s on eight CEO’s from startup companies and what they do to relax. I’ll include the link here. The first one is a cool idea, but, to me, it’s still working. So you can skip past the first point, then read the next seven points.
2 Give yourself the advice you would give your friend – If your best bud was struggling from exhaustion, would you tell them to suck it up and get work done? Maybe you would. But you should also ask them to take note of how far they’ve come, it’s okay to take a day off… HELL, it’s good for them! It is heartbreaking to see someone you are close to look burnt out. If you saw your best friend in this state, you should/would take them out for a night of fun! Why wouldn’t you do the same thing for yourself? The purpose of life has been debated long before this post, but I want to add my twenty-two cents and say, it’s not about working.
3 Sleep More – I’m giving you the thumbs up you’ve always wanted. If you’re not sleeping eight hours a night, you’re not sleeping enough! I don’t want to hear any excuses here. If you’re trying to be creative and sleeping five hours a night. You’re not operating at full capacity, and you’re hurting your work. If you want to be serious about your craft, I want you to be serious about your sleep. If you’re feeling burnt out, the first thing you need to look at is the amount of sleep you’re getting.
Now, creative types are always finding things online that support them staying up late and how it proves that their brains are functioning at a higher level, and they have a hard time falling asleep because they are just so creative – Sure, you’re great! The juices start flowing when you get a little looser. But I would also bet good money you also have Netflix on… yeah, I would bet GOOD money you’re not just sitting at the desk waiting for it to come to you. No, the best thing you can do is respect the day and go to bed.
4 Go get some pie – I have given this example before. Have you ever seen the movie “Men in Black 3”? It’s a time travel movie… any time travel movie will have its flaws (besides Back to the Future, obviously – I mean even Einstein approved of that movie). In the film, Josh Brolin, who plays a younger version of Tommy Lee Jones takes Will Smith (who plays as Will Smith) to go get some pie during a part of the movie where they are really stressed out. The short break in something tasty helps the heroes to solve the problem plaguing them. This sums up the purpose of the post itself. You need to take a break and take your mind completely off your work.
It’s surprisingly easy to mentally push yourself into physical exhaustion. It is not as easy as setting a timer and saying, “I’m not going to do anything involving writing/music/work for this long and doing it. It takes time to really get a hold of your mind, it takes practice. It sounds kind of silly to say that, but it’s the silly truth.
Don’t know if you’re burnt out?? Ask yourself this question. Does it sound exhausting to think about writing a song right now? – If the answer is yes, then you are burnt out. I mean, duh. It’s easy to spot, yet we never seem to acknowledge that we feel this way! Why?! I have no idea. I’ve done it before, and I’ll do it again. Sometimes it’s hard to find a spot to slow down, but that’s precisely what you need to do. “yes” is a powerful word and should be used often, and “no” can be just as powerful and useful. Respect yourself enough and give yourself some time to enjoy the simple moments in life.
If I’m honest, I feel this way often. Even when I’m not writing music, I’m writing music. Now, I know that it sounds cool to say that, but it’s incredibly detrimental to the creative process. Just like that car, if you leave it burning at 6,000 RPM’s you are going to destroy the vehicle. The best thing to do is take it off cruise control and let the engine breathe a little. Where have you headed so fast, anyway?