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The Designer’s Quick Start Burnout Survival Guide

Apr 4, 2022

You know how they say you don’t get to choose your family, but you have the power to choose your people? My people are – and probably always will be – designers.

(And, btw, I’m lucky ‘cause I’d totally choose my family, too. They’re cute pains in the butt, but they’re my cute pains in the butt.)

I get designers. I am a designer.
 And I believe there are no better people to be, see or share cake with than designers. It’s basically why I choose to surround myself with them – inside and outside of work.

But I’ve noticed that most designers have one thing in common (and it ain’t creativity): They all work WAYYY too effing hard!

Dedication and commitment to your success is one thing. But chaining yourself to your desk so that you can paddle your creative legs off just to keep your head above water? That shouldn’t be a thing.

No, seriously. It shouldn’t. I work 15 to 20 hours a week, max. I have regular foot massages, daily walks with my girls, frequent Euphoria Binge sessions with my cat, and an abundance of plain, ol’ “me” time. It’s awesome. But it’s like I’m walking, talking, farting unicorn while all the other designers are sweating for their success.

So, what’s the difference between me and most other designers? Why are they (and probably you, let’s be honest) working so damn hard … and I’m not?

Well, firstly, because I don’t wanna 😛

I started my business so I could have more freedom and flexibility, baby. And when I became booked out in my design business, I realised that:

A. It was awesome. Consistent cash is a game-changer. But also,
B. I really didn’t want to work that much 🤷

I increased my prices so I could work less. But even then I found myself in an
unhappy marriage with my Mac, so I began plotting my divorce.

Spoiler alert: The Mac stayed, but we now share custody of my time so I have more
sanity and *my* version of success.

Which is to say … I found a way to balance work with life. And, lady, I think you
should do the same. I want you to feel safe to have a day off. And I’m not just talking
about a day off once a month. I’m talking about taking a day off every fricken week.

Now, I can already hear you freaking out.

“But, Anna ….

  • I already have too much work! How tf am I meant to get everything done with even less time than normal?
  • I’m already juggling kids/work/pets/my crotchet side hustle. I’m all out of hours in a day.
  • I’ve got shit to do. Productivity is more important than rest.”

Except, is it?

This quote from Brene Brown popped up in my feed recently and reinforced yet
again how smart she is.

So … why are you acting like you’re always on fire?
‘Cause when you’re on fire all the time, it’s inevitable that you’ll eventually burn out.

Which, in case you forgot, isn’t good. It’s fricken horrible, in fact. Did you know burn-out can impact not only your mental health (and it’s more than just feeling sh*t – it also contributes to depression, anxiety and a plethora of mental health problems, too) but your physical health as well?

In fact, burn-out increases the likelihood of death before age 45.

This is, literally, life and death, lady. It’s not fluffy BS about feeling good and always loving what you do so you can sprinkle rose petals and rainbows everywhere. This is about keeping you safe, healthy and sustainable. It’s about taking care of you so that you can show up, continue creating awesome AF shit and contribute meaningfully to the world.

This is about your life.

So, if you’re feeling on fire, let’s find a way to extinguish that stress now and in the future.

Here are three burn-out accelerants and my suggestions for solving them.

TOP THREE CAUSES OF BURN-OUT FOR DESIGNERS

⚡ Problem: Design is life.
Chances are you work from home, right? Which sounds like the dream. Except, let’s be real: How fricken hard is it to separate family life from business life?!

Sure, you’re at your desk working, but at the back of your mind you’re also kinda thinking about the dishes in the sink or the washing that needs to be hung out. You might have a partner or a pet disturbing your flow to show you their fingerpainting/poop/present and then there’s the fridge, beckoning you in for a snack break.

… All while you’re feeling the pressure to create, deliver, earn and learn. The mental load of a woman is immense! And yes, we absolutely need to remember and organise all the things, but it’s time to make like Elsa and let some of it gooo. You’re more than just a designer.

💛 Solution: Outsource the home sh*t.
You aren’t a domestic slave. You don’t have to do all the things. You can be the boss in life AND business. An easy place to start is to outsource the chores you loathe at home so you can free up some of your precious time. Oh and I have made with peace with my mummy guilt and my toddler goes to kindy 5 days a week 👊 Not only does she love it but I also need to get shit done.

I also have a cleaner and a gardener, and if I could find someone to do my washing,
I’d hire them too. (Seriously, if you know someone, give them my number.) I have a designated workspace in the house, and it’s always clean and tidy. And when I walk in there, the rest of the house is no longer my problem.

⚡Problem: You’re too busy with work.
Okay, if you’re working 24/7 and can’t step away from your desk for a day, you’re almost certainly not charging enough. It’s time to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Did you start your own business so you could be a Mac monkey and be on call to your clients day and night?

Um … NOPE. You started your own business because you wanted more sustainable
moolah, creative magic and happy moments. You need to reclaim that.

💛 Solution: Charge more and work with fewer clients.
Lemme ask you something. Would you rather work with 20 clients a month and make $8k, or work with 3 clients a month and make $15k?

It’s a no-brainer, right? Yet, right now, you’re choosing the former. It’s time to choose the latter. How? Reshuffle your biz and raise your rates the right way.

And if you don’t know where tf to start, my big course – Design Biz Bootcamp – teaches you how to do just that. The next launch is at the end of March, so if you’re still in the “why am I working so effing hard” camp, you know where to go.

⚡Problem: You have a problem with prioritising yourself.
I love you, lady, but why do you find it so hard to give yourself a break? Really think about it. Do you have a false belief that you need to work like a mofo in order to be successful? Do you think you’re only worthy of success if you sweat for it? Do you think you’re only worthy when you’re working?

Because I am here to tell you’re worthy no matter what (and you really don’t need to work your cute ass off all the time). You can have it all, baby! Including a day for you. You are valuable and you need rest.

I’m the mother of 2 kids who are 13, 10 & 3. I have a husband that often works away, and a business that is easy to spoil with attention. But I choose to always prioritise time for me each week because if I don’t I’ll be an impatient mummy, a cranky wife and a shit boss and none of that feels good. I’m betting you’re the same.

Solution: Take a day off.
Cross out a day in your calendar each week – it doesn’t have to be the same on each time, but I find it’s easier to stick to it if it is – and then make a pact with yourself that you will NOT work on that day. And, yep, housework is still work.

Instead, take that day and spend it doing things that refill you rather than burn you out. Hint: If you use the word “should”, it’s not something you should be doing that day.

Some of my fave day-off activities are:

  • Foot massage and then getting my nails done
  • A beach trip sans kids so I can actually relaaaaax and read a book in the sun
  • Plant shopping date with my BFF
  • Pancakes! I don’t think I need to explain.


If you like the sound of these, feel free to steal them. Otherwise, make your own list, lady. Just like everyone has their own version of success, we all have our own ways to refill our cups.

Ready to flip off designer burnt-out for good?
Oh and don’t forget to check out DBB before it goes live in a few weeks!

All the love,
Anna xo

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