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Old 03-19-2012, 09:13 PM
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robertsloan2 robertsloan2 is offline
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Re: Workaholics Anonymous - Fighting Burnout

Thanks, Allison.

I was trying to write about it on a pain day so it was hard to stay on topic and keep from getting too long and complicated.

The main thing is that on reading the article, I decided 40 hours a week was the maximum, not the minimum. My previous plans were to set 40 hours a week as a minimum and no maximum. But that isn't productive even for an abled person. That's a good way to drive myself into the ground.

So I set a new minimum of 10 hours a week and speculated on what I'd need to do to be able to earn a good living in only 10 hours a week.

Much of the rest was just my sorting out What's Work to log the hours and see that yes, I finished the day or week's work and can relax now, and What's Play that's absolutely essential to still enjoy the work.

It may sound counter intuitive that difficult slow projects are Play and fast easy ones are Work. The difference is enjoyment and artistic growth. If I never dare to experiment and always stick to what sells best for the least effort, I will get bored with what I'm doing. I will get sloppy, sales will go down, I'll be getting that vicious cycle that leads to burnout.

I have to steer between working too much and working too little. If I succeed at that I will have a good balanced life. That includes hobby projects using the tools for my work and time off just goofing around with it doing things my way without thinking about whether it's marketable.
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Old 03-20-2012, 12:03 AM
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birdhs birdhs is offline
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Re: Workaholics Anonymous - Fighting Burnout

"I think some of us have what I call an immersive temperament- that it is not a desire to please others, or not to disappoint, so much as that our projects form a web that like a gas naturally fills its whole container. We and our projects are one, and immersion creates a sense of wholeness."

I often get lost in a project, especially gardening, and lose all sense of time, often to the point of exhaustion. Certain paintings have led me to that state also, and those still please me. In terms of "over-doing" things, those times when I am immersed in my work are the most dangerous for me. It leads to a sense of exhaustion when I am done, but in an oddly satisfying way.

I am fortunate that I have dogs in my life who will tell me when it is time to stop---yes, they do put their head on my leg and look up at me in 'that way'.

I also have a partner who reminds me it is time to eat, or whatever, thank goodness I do not live alone! I would probably not be disciplined enough to set the limits others, critters included, impose on me.

"I think it is very useful to understand which activities that you sprinkle into your day provide an escape, a time to breath differently from when you are in the throes of serious work/study/execution. What is light for one is challenge for another. Petting the pet in your lap (mine is a dog that is honestly way too heavy for a lap) or talking on the phone with a loved one is typically a rest stop for most of us."

I love the term "sprinkle through your day". It does describe the random moments of brightness that unexpectedly occur. When my mind is in one state those events annoy me, yet in a different state of mind those same interruptions make me smile.

Life is good

greg
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Old 04-01-2012, 03:19 PM
artyczar
 
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Re: Workaholics Anonymous - Fighting Burnout

Hi. I've been away from WC for a long while now. Just started posting again just the other day. Now I see this thread and I feel like I have some kind of purpose coming back here, like telling my story could possibly help someone. I just have to keep it as short as humanly possibly.

I am a recovered workaholic.

From age 11 I worked, full time/over time by 14 no joke, plus I fit in being a gigging musician and a visual artist. Got my own place by 17, so I was paying rent, worked 2 jobs, gigged a few times a week, put out my own little hand made zines, painted... Then by 20 I was working at a rehab 80 hour weeks, plus everything else.

Then, I started playing more professionally and toured with bands, came home and played sometimes 3 gigs a night and worked 2 jobs and painted on top of that, plus promoted myself, running myself ragged - I was no more than 100 pounds... All this until I literally couldn't walk and wound up in the ER at 30 years old and got diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

Oh you'd think That would stop the madness? It did stop me being a musician. It slowed things down quite a bit, but I still was vying for putting in at least a 50 hour week into my art, until 4 years after that I wound up in the hospital again, diagnosed with Lupus.

Totally fatigued, I cut it down to a 35 hour week.

Depression set in. In 2007 I had a bout with depression so bad, it was pretty scary and well... I finally went on medication and I put things in perspective.

But did I lay back? Not really. I still wanted to "recover" so I could be "self-sufficient." and I worked too hard and I almost died from 3 bouts of hard core pneumonia that I am still recovering from.

Now?

I watch a lot of TV (movies). I paint about 1-3 hours a day. I promote about 1-2 hours a day, if that. I take naps every day. I see friends once or twice a week. I have a new doggie that I cuddle with. I take walks and I eat better.
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Old 04-01-2012, 04:19 PM
fritzie fritzie is offline
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Re: Workaholics Anonymous - Fighting Burnout

artyczar, your story is a powerful one. Is it your current health that enforces your new, much quieter routine, or would you say you have reformed internally in such a way that, were your health to return fully, you would still be able to let yourself pace yourself?
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Old 04-01-2012, 04:52 PM
artyczar
 
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Re: Workaholics Anonymous - Fighting Burnout

I think this last bout of bad health has truly changed me internally and mentally, along with a lot of therapy - I started seeing a GREAT therapist almost 7 months ago now, and we have recently been really getting into some good work on changing my behaviors. It's been difficult, but I have also cut out some toxic people from my life, something that was long overdue but just so painful to actually put into action. I did it though.

Thanks for the support.

Last edited by artyczar : 04-01-2012 at 04:56 PM.
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Old 04-05-2012, 06:45 AM
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Sweet725 Sweet725 is offline
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Re: Workaholics Anonymous - Fighting Burnout

I have managed to go from one extreme to the opposite end of the spectrum and now feel like I'm stuck in some rut I can get out of. Parr to get married I worked multiple jobs and worked 24 hours shifts with built in of time for an ambulance company and picked up extra ontop of that - at one point I had one full time and two part time job on top of that position. All I did was work, infact I pretty much lived in my truck and at the stations. Then I moved across country get married, try to restablish my career which is still in shambles from where I expected and wanted it to be and I have no energy and I'm sapped of what seems all energy. My health has turned for the worst, and my mind is well lost. There is so much I wanna get done but it seems so hard just get going. Infact my love of art has take a backseat cause I can't produce anything 'good enough' for me. So frustrating. Ive,spoken to my husband many time s about things but can't get him to understand or even comprehend the simplistic idea about where I am. It so frustrating I really do,just want to stay in bed all day. I went from a productive person to one that is lucky to get moving out of bed on my day off. When I'm at work it's different, I can't even explain it even though I'm thoroughly frustrated with my job. There have been so many drastic changes in my life the past 6 years or so I feel,like some where along the way I got lost and I just want to find myself again. Oh what it would be like to sit down and work on some art and just enjoy it, but I can't. I feel for ya Robert to go from one extreme to another and try to find some kind of balance isn't an easy task for some. Even if you get help involved.
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Old 04-05-2012, 10:28 AM
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robertsloan2 robertsloan2 is offline
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Re: Workaholics Anonymous - Fighting Burnout

Pam, you might want to get to the doctor. Autoimmune diseases like my fibromyalgia are a modern epidemic. They seem to strike a lot of active people who go through a lot of stress, it leaves me wondering if extreme sustained stress sometimes makes people vulnerable to it.

I know that my fibromyalgia took a huge turn for the worse in the mid 1990s. I had some symptoms all along but after about 1995 I was that wiped out. I'm now functioning at an incredibly slow pace - it's a big deal to be able to accomplish one thing in the day and I get bored with how many hours I have to just rest. Really tired of television.

Finding a balance where I can spend some of my good, functioning hours doing something besides things that need to be done and work is the hard part. I've got plenty of sick time but that is not relaxing, that's just boring. It helps to make plans for things I want to do that aren't income producing, like getting out to see The Hunger Games or going to a museum - that's going to improve my art in the long run but isn't really something that'll bring in cash to support the website unless I write it up or something.
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Old 04-05-2012, 12:42 PM
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stlukesguild stlukesguild is offline
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Re: Workaholics Anonymous - Fighting Burnout

I remember reading one of those old books on art and design back in art school in which the author declared that the average artist can work almost anyone else under the table. Midway through my second year of art school, someone in the art school decided to look into the reality of this fact with regard to the student body. Students at my school were sharing dorms with students from our "sister school"... and elite liberal arts college. Many of those students looked down upon the "dumb artists". Looking at the course load and average time spent on homework, the art students spent over twice the time as the students from the elite liberal arts college in the classroom or working on homework. My first semester of art school involved 21 semester credit hours. Over the years I've had to take various college courses in art to maintain my teaching license. I always find myself laughing at students who are "over-worked" as a result of 9 or 12 credit hours, while I spend 10 times the hours upon my projects on top of working 40 hours a week.

I think many in the arts recognize that an incredible work ethic and self-discipline are required of anyone wishing to actually achieve something of merit. One can make all sorts of excuses for not getting in the studio enough... and I have surely done so myself over the years... but ultimately ypu need to recognize that as an artist you are laboring in a highly competitive field... not unlike that of the athlete... and excuses don't gain you anything. All that matters are results.

I'm lucky that I've never faced burnout... but I can certainly envision it. The closest I might have come was as a college post-graduate student when I was working 40+ hours a week on my job and taking an over-sized course load so that I could finish the degree as rapidly as possible. In actuality, I suspect that my wife, who is more prone to stress than myself, was more stressed out than I was. In many ways I thrive on stress... on deadlines. My weakness tends to be the opposite of what others have spoken of here is that I tend to become complacent... lazy... non-productive... if I lack some clear goals and deadlines.
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Old 04-05-2012, 12:47 PM
artyczar
 
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Re: Workaholics Anonymous - Fighting Burnout

Sweet,

Depression is difficult. You should go to the doctor for both your depression and to find out what is going on physically. Even with me, I don't know what part of my depression is from my illness (MS has depression as a symptom) or what is inherited (My mom was bipolar), or what is just part of life (I had a pretty awful childhood). But does it matter? Meds and therapy, that's all I can do.

Work is a tough thing because we feel that if we don't produce, we are worthless. It's a feature of society. Even worse, if we don't make money, we are "losers" or something, because "money makes the world go 'round" and this sort of thing, but we are artists. We need to remember that we don't agree with this kind of nonsense. We have different values and different purposes and we make our own special world and impact others in a way that makes money and mass production seem petty. It's just hard to put that into perspective because we live amongst the people in the world that are all on board for this other kind of thinking and it gets confusing.

I hope I am communicating this okay? You know what I mean?

I have slowed WAY down and it's been strange to say the least, but it's given me time to think about this stuff. But obviously not enough time to communicate it eloquently enough. LOL!

It's already the 5th of April in 2012 and late in the day yesterday I finished my very first painting of the year. It's not a big painting or anything either. It's a very small, simple piece. That's how laid back production has been. I am going through a lot of change. That is something very different for me.

However, I do have to pick up the pace if I want to have a show in 2013. Ha!
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Old 04-07-2012, 06:24 AM
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robertsloan2 robertsloan2 is offline
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Re: Workaholics Anonymous - Fighting Burnout

Artyczar, that's a really important point. There's so much social pressure on everyone to overwork, in the most insidious way.

It's admired.

You can get people to do anything with positive reinforcement. It's ten times more powerful than threats or fear. Just keep rewarding a bad habit and it digs in deep. Working so long and hard that it gets counterproductive gets rewarded socially to an immense degree and counters the constant accusation that it's "not real work." You can stand on the statistics - I did a ninety hour week, you can't say that's not real work.

When I'm on form I can think about it for days and swish a brush for ten minutes and have something wonderful. That's part of the process. It's not really like other work - and not having the down time for that rumination cuts deep into quality.
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Old 04-07-2012, 11:48 AM
fritzie fritzie is offline
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Re: Workaholics Anonymous - Fighting Burnout

Pam, I agree with Robert that a trip to the doctor might make sense. My doctor, I know, would never prescribe medication for something that could be addressed differently. I am sure he would refer me to a competent person to help me sort out my feelings and exhaustion. The people who love us (like a husband) may not be well equipped to understand, because where we are may not be simple.
If you only want to stay in bed all day and this is a frequent feeling, a medical check in could make a big difference for you.
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Old 04-08-2012, 12:57 AM
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Katie Black Katie Black is offline
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Re: Workaholics Anonymous - Fighting Burnout

[quote=artyczar](I had a pretty awful childhood). But does it matter? Meds and therapy, that's all I can do.

Yes I think it does..my childhood wasnt great..in fact I can't remember most of it (I've blanked it out), I think sometimes its why people become workaholics/ill as adults, we constantly strive for better, pushing ourselves even when we know where we are heading....

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