I know it may not seem like it because I keep things lighthearted here on the blog, but I put a lot of pressure on myself. A LOT. I felt a climax of that pressure develop over the summer. Since I had time off from school, I immediately became absorbed with Drifter & the Gypsy. Constantly taking pictures, posting at least 5 times a week, brainstorming ideas for posts, reaching out to companies, writing emails, networking, planning photo shoots, etc. My mind was always ON and I was burning out. I’d beat myself up if pictures I took weren’t up to my standards or if a post on Instagram didn’t get a lot of likes. Not good or healthy at all. I was genuinely scared about starting school again in September because I didn’t know how I’d ever keep up with my schoolwork if I felt like I was running just to stay in place on my school break.
I talked to a dear friend about how I was feeling and she asked me, “Is it really the end of the world if I didn’t post every single weekday?” I thought about that to myself, and well, the answer was NO. So where was all this pressure coming from? ME!
For the month of September, I did a little experiment: I only posted an average of 3 times a week (sometimes more if the spirit moved me), but I made sure the posts were mainly my own (high-quality) content. It was my own modified version of slow blogging. And you know what? I really liked it. I always say I’m the type of person who likes to focus on one or a few BIG things rather than a bunch of little things at once. Posting less times a week enabled me to focus on/put more effort into delivering rocking solid high quality content (and if I’m really busy one day and skip a blog post I had planned, the sky isn’t going to fall down; everything is going to be okay). Quality > quantity after all.
I wasn’t going to write about this until I read this post by Katie, which really resonated with me. And then came this one from Erin, which was in conjunction with this New York Times article. And then Grace wrote this blog post in response to the NYT article. All this made me realize that blogger burnout wasn’t just an issue with me, but so many other bloggers were experiencing the same pressure I was feeling.
I started blogging in 2008 when the blogging environment was completely unrecognizable compared to what it is today. Now that blogging has a far more commercial aspect to it than ever before (which is both good and bad), there are deadlines to meet, proposals to pitch, emails to send, pictures to take, pictures to edit, business meetings and brainstorming sessions, among a laundry list of other never-ending daunting tasks to complete. A lot of us bloggers (and also entrepreneurs in general) have this unwavering determination to keep up with the Joneses (the Joneses being other bloggers, magazines, newspapers, companies, etc.). However, working ourselves to the point of exhaustion is not the answer. Taking a break is not a bad thing. It’s not something to be shunned or to look down upon; it’s not a sign of weakness. One thing I’ve started asking myself is, “Is what I’m doing right now a sustainable way of living my life?” and if the answer is no, I know I need to change something.
I had a bit of a rude awakening when I recently went to the doctor for a routine checkup. He had me fill out this questionnaire. I had to write about what I did for work (blogging and student), if I ever had surgery, if I had allergies, etc. and then I got to the part where it asked me what I liked to do in my free time. And I couldn’t for the life of me come up with anything. I like to take pictures? But for my blog. I like to design? But I’m always designing for school projects-graphic design is my major-and for my blog. I like to write? But I’m always writing essays for school as well as blog posts. I like to read? But I’m always reading other blogs or articles about blogs or books about blogs. Do you see the pattern here? I didn’t do anything purely for me. I didn’t have any free time.
The thing is that blogging is my passion. And a passion plays a large part in your life. And when that happens, it’s hard to differentiate any semblance of a boundary between work and life.
What changes have I made to my schedule? I’ve stopped working at night and I’ve been relaxing for at least 2 hours before I go to bed. Relaxing could involve watching TV, reading, stretching or talking to my family. I’ve noticed I’m sleeping a lot better because of that. Additionally, I’m reevaluating my priorities so that I’m more efficient throughout my day. Do I really need to browse Instagram for 1+ hours first thing in the morning or could I be putting my time to better use by writing blog posts or doing schoolwork first, THEN browsing Instagram after I’m done? Most recently, I’ve heard of the Pomodoro Technique, which is a time-management method that breaks your day up into 25 minute segments to boost productivity. Have any of you tried that? I’m curious to see what your thoughts/experiences are with that technique and get your thoughts on blogging burnout as a whole.
But overall? Overall, we just need less pressure and more love. ♥