Leading up to the holiday period can be an intense time for the most of us, but for small businesses and, from my perspective, illustrators, the few bank holidays of rest aren't always enough to 'reset' ourselves. We spend the last few months of the year working overtime to get things ready for Christmas and then a few days later we are prepping for the New Year, bringing out new work, promotions, marketing and everything else to make 2019 the best year yet for our business. So here are a few tips to avoid burnout as we enter the New Year:
1. REST. This will seem insanely obvious but it can be one of the hardest things to do. In running your own business you are constantly on the look out for new ways to improve it, but by taking just a day or two to stop and completely switch off can actually be the most beneficial thing for your business.
2. Make an appreciation list. We've all seen the top 9 instagram posts floating around, showing the most liked posts of 2018, which is great but try to find the time to sit and reflect on your proudest moments or biggest achievements from 2018 instead of letting your success be defined by 'likes'. You might be surprised to find that these were some of the quietest or most private moments of your year; maybe you negotiated your rate like a pro, found a new client, or maybe you finally felt content in what you were doing.
3. Exercise. Getting active is not only great for your health but its a great way to decrease stress levels and elevate your mood. Its also a great way to help with sleep if you struggle getting your 8 hours in, and even if your not a fan of running or the gym, a brisk walk outside with the family and dog can do just as good to help clear your mind.
4. Sleep. Leading on nicely from the last point, sleep is super important for our mental and physical health. It can seem like you need to take a running jump into the New Year, cramming all of your resolutions into the first week of January, but it's really important to leave enough time for sleep. It's ok not to work 48+ hour weeks and just have an early night and don't feel guilty about those few extra hours you spend under the duvet in the morning, you'll find yourself being much more productive for it.
5. It's ok to say no. Knowing when work isn't going to benefit you is perhaps my number one tip (yes I realise I have placed it at number 5). It can be really hard to turn down work, especially for those just starting out in their careers; it may seem like you are throwing away money and that you might not get the opportunity of work again, but knowing when certain projects/clients won't help to further your business can really help both to limit stress and make sure that your business succeeds. As illustrators, clients will seek us out if we fulfill certain criteria they have, this is normally: 1. if our style suits their brief; 2. our fee is within their budget and 3. we can complete the work within their deadline. But clients should also fulfill certain criteria that we have such as: 1. the brief suits our style - there is no point in creating work that you will not include in your portfolio or you will not gain valuable experience from; 2. their budget is big enough for the work required - don't underprice yourself, its not only detrimental to your career it damages the industry as a whole; 3. their deadline allows you enough time to complete the work to a standard you will be happy with - its very rare, at least when working with editorial clients, to have long deadlines but don't try to do the impossible, clients generally have a little wiggle room too so if you think you'll need an extra day or two ask the client before you agree to the work.
Hopefully these tips will help you get the best start to 2019. Happy New Year!