My name is Michelle, and I’m a recovering Digital Project Manager.
You see, I was a digital PM for awhile, back in the heady days of 2015, a distant blur now. And then I became a digital strategist. “Cool,” I thought. “A totally different job, how exciting!” And then weeks and months went on and I found myself thinking, “Hmm. This seems an awful lot like what I was doing before. What gives?”
Months turned into almost a year and I became more disillusioned and confused than ever.
So what is the actual difference between a digital PM and a digital strategist? It’s taken me awhile to learn.
Whatever your hustle may be — design, coding, strategy, project management, writing, something unmarketing related — you started doing it because you loved it. You continued because you loved it. You can’t imagine yourself doing anything else with your life, but yet, you hit a point where you just want to quit. What’s going on?
It’s not a lack of passion for your work. It’s not because of boredom. It’s not because you want to do something else.
When you feel that feeling of loving what you do and being convinced that you’ve never been more connected to and passionate about your work, coupled with a feeling of absolute dread about going in the next day or doing any of the tasks on your list, congrats — you’re in creative burnout.
I think the hardest thing about working in an industry you’re really passionate about is the eventual feeling of “Is this worth it?” that creeps into your mind. If you’re like me, you’re a 110% kind of person. All in or all out, there is no in between.
I’m happy and proud to be doing something I love for a living. I love the sense of accomplishment my work provides, and being surrounded by so many talented people with big ideas. It’s fantastic and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. But sometimes, it still gets tough like anything else.
I guess some people call that burnout, but that’s not really what it is. To me, true burnout is when you are literally so done that you cannot be any more done. You know it’s time to walk away, find a new path, burn bridges to the ground, whatever. You want out of where you are.
But that’s not what I feel sometimes at all. Like I said, I wouldn’t change a thing. So it’s not burnout, it’s just a temporary case of a lack of fucks to give.
Once your supply of fucks to give is restored, all is well.
We’ve all been there. It’s one of those jam-packed days, full of demanding requests, urgent tasks, ringing phones, beeping devices and just not enough snacks.
In other words, hell.
Luckily for you, I am an expert in concealing stress levels that border on breakdown territory (not exactly a plus?) and am here to guide you on how to deal with your imminent nervous breakdown when you just don’t have the time to indulge it.
Step 1: Remain Uncalm
Your first instinct when trying not to throw items around you in a fit of rage may be to tell yourself to stay calm. Don’t do this. In fact, do the opposite. Be uncalm. Be angry. Think about which items you would most enjoy hurling from your desk and most excitedly, at whom you would like to hurl them. Especially if they aren’t physically present at the moment.
I find this is the most enjoyable part of the exercise. Then later when you see that person, you can respond in a socially acceptable passive aggressive way instead.
I’m pretty sure that balancing workload is a problem all agencies have – either not enough work, or too much. It’s never just right, is it? Such is the nature of the business, and why it keeps my interest as a dynamic and ever-changing place to be. But sometimes, if you’re on the short end of that stick, it can feel a whole lot like burnout.
Deadlines, overbooking, sudden influx of everyone accepting your quotes… whatever the case may be, you’ve found yourself on Too Much Work island, surrounded by Holy Shit This Sucks sharks circling you. Not to fear. I have just the thing to get you through this tough spell.
It’s called…. WERK.
Just werk it.
Not twerk it. Well, you can… I guess.
Really, having too much business is probably the best problem you could have in your entire life, so just stop complaining and deal with it. Imagine how many companies and people would kill to be in your spot right now? Lots! People facing bankruptcy, companies in danger of having to do layoffs, and so on. And here you are, complaining that you are TOO successful, and TOO in demand, and just can’t seem to catch a break. I mean, really?! Suck it up and get it done. You should be thankful.
It does totally suck when you’re pulling lots of late nights to get stuff done, but in the grand scheme of things, you’re pretty frickin lucky.
I feel ranty this week. Maybe I’m just tired, or didn’t drink enough coffee, or am actually just a total cranky old bitch. But in any case, my ranty-ness is expanding into most aspects of my life. Today I’m ranting about something that happened about 6 months ago, which quite frankly I think we can all agree is clearly the sign of a totally normal, mentally stable individual.
Regardless, I still believe in my rant today, so here goes.
Months ago, I was at a Meetup event downtown. It was about content strategy, and it was a great event. The speaker was engaging and knowledgable and made a ton of excellent points I still remember to this day. The thing that annoyed me came after the actual event, when the talking to other humans part kicked in. For a cranky ass introvert like myself, talking to other humans can sometimes be a challenge.
Not because I don’t like people, but just because I often don’t know what to say. I hate small talk and fake interest in things. Let’s either talk about something mutually interesting or why bother, is how I view networking type events. But it’s also no fun to be sitting around by yourself in a room full of people, so, I make attempts at human connection.
Today I got up on stage in front of a bunch of people, like a few hundred, and spoke for a bit. It was super nerve-wracking and at first, terrible. I was up there and talking and then thought, “Oh this isn’t so bad,” and looked around. Big mistake. It instantly got a million times worse and I decided not to do that again.
There was a stage thing, and a real podium and microphone and all sorts of shiz like that. And hundreds of pairs of tiny beady little eyes burning holes into my soul. At least I think that’s what they were doing.
I was only speaking for a minute or so, to do a quick promo and introduce the next speaker, but it was the first time I ever got in front of that many people and said anything, so that was pretty cool. I’m proud of myself for doing that and hope that one day I get enough nerve to actually speak at some thing, sometime, for some reason. I have no idea what that would ever be, but who knows where life takes you sometimes.
So I started this blog for unclear purposes really. To explore industry topics, to learn some stuff, to connect with others, to pass the time, who knows. All of the above. I just like to write stuff sometimes, so I’m going with that. But what happens when your boss/bosses find your blog? I think for many people that might be an awkward encounter. Personally I don’t really care. I’m pretty straightforward. I haven’t told anyone about this blog yet, not really sure why. Just testing the waters I suppose. But, if people from my life find it, I don’t care. Other people with weirder blogs than mine might disagree (but if you’re that weird, then you are probably hiding from people in real life too, because you’re a serial killer).
But regardless, there is usually some desire to not look like a total turd in front of one’s manager. So these are the five things that cross your mind when your boss reads your blog.
1. “Oh, you found my blog?”
2. “Did you like it?”
3. “We should never speak of this again.”
4. “Oh, you did like it?”
5. “OK, time to get serious then. So many topics to cover.”