Take Care of Yourself
In today’s fast-paced world of everything, all the time, now now now, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and succumb to burnout in voice over. Freelancers, “CEOs” of our own small businesses, sole traders, whatever you’d like to call us… we often push ourselves to the brink with an unpredictable workload. We put ourselves through constant intense stress at the whims of our clients and our own sense of accomplishment. We burn out.
I’ve experienced this firsthand more times than I care to admit. But I’ve come out the other side.
As a voiceover artist and content creator, my work is largely dependent on my vocal stamina and energy levels. I have always known that my peak energy times are in the morning and early afternoon, but struggled being able to fit all the things into these relatively short periods. Additionally, due to road construction outside my studio window these past nine months, I’ve been forced to work outside my natural rhythms for a while. This led to me recording voiceovers during times when I usually wind down for the day, completely disrupting my routine.
At first I soldiered on, believing that I could push through this temporary inconvenience. But after a while I began to feel the effects. I found myself in an adreneline-induced overstimulated state when I should have been sleeping. My body was in fight or flight every day, perhaps multiple times a day.
Burnout was inevitable. My body simply couldn’t cope with the strain of performing at times that were unnatural for me. I realized that I had to limit the number and types of projects I took on in order to balance the strain on my body.
Learn to slow down
This experience also taught me the importance of self-care. Essentials for thriving in any profession: rest, creative activities to re-energize, good sleep hygiene, and a routine that works with your body’s natural rhythms. It is okay to be a complete potato and watch all 7 seasons of Pretty Little Liars within a few weeks, if that helps you recover… just not only that.
So, I made some changes to my routine:
I began retroactively timeblocking my tasks to see what I generally spent my time on, and when throughout my day or week.
I started going to bed earlier and waking up earlier on designated “work days” Tuesday-Friday (it’s currently 6:45 AM) to work on important things during my peak energy times. These are projects I would continuously procrastinate on because I never felt ready.
I re-integrated a manageable level of bullet-journalling into my day that encourages a minimal amount of planning and reflection, and works well with my reliance on Google Calendar. If it’s not in my calendar, it does not exist. Though I’ve come to learn that, in fact, not everything needs to exist there just yet. This process has me being very cutthroat with my priorities. As someone who’s not in the position to delegate half of their “business running” tasks, such as writing this blog, there will be things I don’t get to for some time. That’s okay! It’s a long game.
I created a dice game (yes, you’re gonna have to use a physical D20 set for this!) and Google Nest routines. They allowed me to integrate pomodoro-like periods of focus and re-energising activities throughout my day, with music I enjoy.
While these systems of productivity and flow are tried and true methods of increasing effectiveness, they never worked for me because they are, in themselves as systems, BORING. So, I found a way to make it FUN. I love rolling dice! It’s satisfying, and forces me to do a small, abliet tactile action to completely snap me out of the current task. I’m using that system right now, listening to my favourite film and video game music scores as I write this.
A few of you have already asked for more details on this. It’s coming! Stay tuned.
Some of my “re-energizing” activities include doing or researching art, reading and writing prompts, chores to tidy up my space, exercises I enjoy, as well as relaxation practices like meditation and yoga… though Astro doesn’t seem to like those:
I opted into a program called NewAccess, funded by Beyond Blue, which is a mental health coaching program “designed to give [small business owners] the skills to manage everyday life stresses.” Through this program, I learned that my obscene amounts of organisation and planning are the result of excessive worry resulting from intolerance to uncertainty. Hmm… not the best thing to suffer from given my chosen lifestyle, is it? It’s been an eye-opening experience.
I’m looking forward to practicing setting boundaries and then letting go in future. Thanks Kirsty for your candor and support!
The result is amazing. I feel more energized, focused and productive while working, and also… calm. So calm. My work has improved – I’ve booked more voiceover jobs than I have in months! My body feels strong, despite my recent bout with the flu (again) and waiting out my sinuses to fully clear.
Self-care is not a luxury, but is a necessity.
If you’re struggling with burnout or feeling overwhelmed, take a step back and assess. Take care of yourself! Your body, and your clients, will thank you. Good bye, burnout ????
And with that, I’m off to roll some dice before breakfast! Take care of yourself…