The elephant in the room: how well am I doing with it?

Reacting to, and opening up about, the meaning of burnout for artistic people like us

The elephant in the room: how well am I doing with it?

Burnout: for arts people, it's the elephant in the room. To what extent is it real and worth your attention? If you feel like you're burned-out, what next?

Recently, on the blog of Recording Arts – which is an audio school in Quebec – Jonny Tobin, a close friend of Rhythm Changes, was interviewed for an article about burnout:

Burnout: Finding Balance in the Music Industry
Prioritizing mental health is especially important in a business that can make us feel like we aren’t really “allowed” to take days off.

Today, I'm looking at the key bits of what Jonny said, and then answering the same prompts that he answered – because I don't need to wait for anyone to interview me!

Reacting to what Jonny said

What happens if you take another day off?

"I keep all my gigs and commitments in a calendar, and then I pencil in my days off like a booking," Jonny said in the article. So what would happen if you scheduled one more day off than you usually do, in a given period of time?

I like this idea. It's a test of Parkinson's Law: work expands to fill the time available, and in this case contracts when the time disappears.

What do you do for the best possible break?

Jonny says, "If you’re in a really busy period, take even just one hour in the day to do something for yourself – maybe go for a walk or a sauna."

I don't know what the best thing to do on a break is. I might define best as allowing me to have the most possible energy to work well and be happy that day.

The current things I do are not the best – at this point, doing my social media tasks is a break-time activity. I ought to make separate time for that and have better break time.

Bored = good

"I think one of the keys to making great art is the down time, and having that time to not create," Jonny says.

He doesn't say it explicity, but I'd take that further and say being bored is good. "Bored" is actually a code-word for being receptive to creative thoughts, daydreaming, and new feelings or ideas – if you choose to frame it that way.

I've often said to family that I never feel bored, but what I don't say is that this might be to my detriment. Crafting more space for my mind to wander might help my day-to-day sanity quite a bit...