The Leon Bridges Phenomenon
I love being a web designer and I’m incredibly thankful that I decided to join this industry many years ago. Still, despite my love of this profession, there have been a number of times during my career when my passion has waned and I’ve found myself simply going through the motions instead of fully applying myself to my work. This scenario is likely familiar to many of my fellow web designers. It is called burnout.
Burnout is a very real challenge that we face as web professionals. The same processes that help us complete projects successfully can also contribute to us falling into a routine and hitting autopilot on our work.
Sometimes, an overload of work can force you to fall into a routine and become a production line in order to meet deadlines.
Other times, a lack of variety and excitement can lead to apathy with burnout not far behind.
Whenever I have started to experience burnout in my career, thankfully I have recognized the situation and been able to work to resolve the problem. In this article, I will share some of what I have found helpful in rekindling my passion for web design.
Talk To Your Peers
If anyone can understand your feelings of burnout, it is fellow web professionals. They have likely experienced something very similar and they may be able to give you advice on how to handle the situation. Sometimes, simply talking to others is the catalyst you need to break out of a funk and get excited about your work again.
Attending a web conference is one of the best ways to meet and interact with other web professionals. Listening to presentations from some of our industry’s best and brightest, and then being able to discuss that content with fellow attendees at lunch or at an after-conference party, always gets my creative energies flowing. I have never returned to the office after a conference and not been full of fresh ideas and excited to get back to work! Of course, conferences do not happen all the time, nor are they inexpensive to attend.
Take A Break
I remember speaking with a web designer I had collaborated with on a few projects about a sabbatical that he took a while back. He had felt himself burning out and decided that he wanted to take six months totally away from his job. Now, few of us can just walk away from our work for half a year, but he planned it out and made preparations so that he could make it happen. He looked hard at his budget and made some changes so he could save some money and give himself a cushion that would allow him to go without any income during his time off. He admitted to me that it was difficult, but workable, and he did take that time off after about a year of working and saving.
During his sabbatical, he surfed, he read books (not ones about web design), took a cooking class, and, above all, he stayed away from work. No checking emails or calling into the office. He truly took time away, and he said that it was wonderful – not only the time during this sabbatical, but also the moment when he returned to work. He was full of new ideas, refreshed and invigorated. He also reported to me that he had a new outlook on his work and on potential burnout. Having taken the steps to make his sabbatical happen, he now knew that should he ever hit that wall of burnout again, he could find a way to take some significant time off to get back on track.
If you are experiencing burnout, be sure to use your vacation time effectively. If that time is not enough, consider taking a more significant break. It may not be easy to manage, but with some proper planning, you can find a way to make it work.
About six years ago, I began teaching website design and front-end development at my state university. When I took the position, I thought that it would be a refreshing change of pace that would allow me to share my knowledge and experience in a whole new way. The reality of what I got out of the experience far exceeded my expectations going in.
For me, teaching helped me remember the energy I had when I first started in this industry. It’s easy to let the weight of project deadlines, client problems, and the day-to-day challenges of the job drown the sense of enthusiasm and excitement you had when you were working on websites in the early days of your career. I see that energy in my students and it is infectious. You can’t help but have it seep back into your work as well!