If you work in a creative field (or any field, really), it’s super easy to start feeling burnout. Demanding new ideas, strategies and talking points from your brain day after day is taxing.
Don’t get me wrong. Our bodies are pretty amazing and we can work 12 or 14 or 16 hour days for a long time and get a remarkable amount of work done. But it’s not great work.
Truly great work is sustainable. You’ll get a lot more done working 8-9 hours a day while being consistently inspired for 10 or 20 years than you will going all out for a few years until you reach your breaking point.
Take long distance running in track and field, where the guy who sprints out the lead early on is rarely the first to cross the finish line. The smartest and most well-trained runners know to conserve their energy and the anxious runners will come back to them later in the race.
I think one of the most important aspects of doing great work is being present. Our culture is so focused on multi-tasking and GTD that it can be pretty rare where we even have a conversation with another person without constantly distracting ourselves with email or tweets or the weather.
People who are building great things and who are the greatest leaders are able to give 100% of themselves in each interaction. But you can’t achieve that if you are running yourself into the ground. You need consistent energy and passion that you can only get from taking a break every now and then.
P.S. – Andrew Dumont has some really good tips on avoiding burnout. It’s a great read.