Avoiding Design Burnout

Avoiding Design Burnout

In the innovative world of design, designers are pushing the limit and inspiring the design trends of the future. However, it takes many rounds of trial and error for designers to get even close to breaking new grounds in design.

As a result, designers often expend their creativity to the point where their brains are in serious need of some R&R.

The following are some ways to avoiding design burnout and keeping your creative sanity!

If you need more tips and inspiration on avoiding burnout and keeping your creative juices flowing, here are other articles you should read:

Take Care of Your Health

Take Care of Your Health

A topic which should rank top on your list of concerns is mental or physical exhaustion. They can be a clear sign that you need to take better care of your health.

A typical designer’s life may consist of long hours in front of the computer, little sleep, and sugary drinks that eventually lead to crashing. And as cliché as it sounds, eating a balanced diet will revitalize your creative capabilities.


Exercise gives us the chance to get away from the computer and wake up our body’s energy. Exercise can be a better alternative to early morning caffeinated drinks by jump-starting your energy and getting the blood circulating.

Long hours sitting in front of the computer prohibit proper circulation throughout your body, which stifle the functionality of vital organs.

Notice your butt getting a little numb? Stand up and take a brief walk around the block, house, or office. Allow this moment to give you some time to clear your mind, and your body will repay you with a little mental clarity.

The other awesome benefit of exercise is the endorphins. Exercising helps to release endorphins, which greatly alleviate stress. They even bring a smile back to your face by uplifting your mood for a better attitude towards your work.

Don’t Design

Don't Design

Step away from the graphics tablet! If you’re a designer that eats, drinks, and sleeps design, you may want to dictate a day each week where you simply don’t design. I know, it sounds a little hard at first, but the payoff is incredibly rewarding.

Turn off your creative brain temporarily each week. Respond to emails in the morning, then shut off the computer to enjoy the day to yourself or with loved ones. Everyone deserves and requires at least a day off for mental clarity, and though the pressure of maintain clientele may hold favoritism, no client is worth your sanity.

Get a New Hobby

One way to keep your mind off design is to take up a hobby completely unrelated to it. The summer weather is especially inviting to the wide array of activities you can explore.

You can even kill two birds with one stone by picking a hobby that allows you to get out and exercise. One thing that I’ve always loved to do is to take a book and go to a beautiful park or place near the water and read for a couple of hours.

Experience Something New

Experience Something New

Take a note from the recent MTV show where a group of guys made a list of things they want to do before they die. Make a top 100 bucket list of all the things you would like to accomplish within a given amount of time and make an effort this year to start on some of those endeavors.

My list consists of experiences that greatly appeal to my background and culture. For instance, I’m making a personal effort to begin learning the Spanish language this year and currently making great progress.

Find a Mentor

Find a Mentor

Are you feeling a little hopeless as to where you should turn for great support and advice? Well, approach a respected designer with the concept of potential mentorship.

Mentorships don’t require a lot of time out of your schedule, and they open a world of possibilities for design inspiration.

Set up a friendly agreement with your mentor to have access to their advice on new projects and resources for the tips and techniques they call upon to avoid burnout. You may even collaborate on future projects and learn from the pros with first-hand experience. And with the convenience of modern day social networking, great advice is just a tweet away.

Buena Suerte! (Good Luck)

Learning techniques to avoid design burnout is important to your life as a designer. Enjoy the abundance of mental clarity you’ll absorb by taking time out for yourself and interests.

Though this field is incredibly rewarding, it’s also quite tiring at times, so show yourself the appreciation for all your hard work by taking care of yourself.

What are your own tips, tricks, and favorite resources for combating design burnout? What causes design burnout?

Related Content

About the Author

Melody Nieves is a friendly, flirty, and eccentric digital artist and marketing enthusiast. Read her titillatingly intellectual posts on the influence of sex in marketing and design at SexiDesign. You can also find her rockin’ it out at her more personal blog, AWalkInMyShoes. Check her out on Twitter as well.

This was published on Jun 11, 2010


So true, Right now I’ve got so much design/programming on that I can feel my creativity slipping away. Some Xbox live usually does the trick, but to find the time in out busy demanding world can be hard.

Jordan Walker Jun 11 2010

Great article and information on ways to stay focuses on the prize and passion of web development.

Zoe Feast Jun 11 2010

Some good points here. I am a great believer in “stepping away from the computer” It’s amazing how a break can produce clarity when it comes to design problems. Taking up an unrelated hobby is important too. I love gardening, where I get some decent exercise and the chance to dabble with my creativity in a totally different way. Weeding is also a very therapeutic stress relief. I regularly feature elements from my garden in my blog. In this post I describe how nature creates “call to actions”.

Now I am off to make a bucket list!

Marcell Purham | Webdevtuts Jun 11 2010

I think if you’re motivated enough you will not run out of ideas but if you’re not then you will. I love what I do and ideas keep flowing my way :)

Leandro Jun 11 2010

I will also do a change in my wishlist
‘things to do before I die’ will called ‘things to do before I burnt out’ ;)

John Paul Aguiar Jun 11 2010

Greta post Melody.

Can take these same tips, to anything, mainly my blogging.

I think this useful for me, thanks

Melody Jun 11 2010

Mark, It’s certainly great that you can find your own method to get away, especially with a little thrill and excitement of a video game as well as community interaction.

Zoe, What’s also great about gardening is being in the environment of all that oxygen and fresh air. I can imagine it must do wonders and even think I may give it a go!

Marcell, I’m the same way in that I always have new ideas. I just want to make sure that I am also creating the ideal environment to effectively create and implement those ideas to the fullest.

Leandro, I love your change to the bucket list description!

John, I certainly agree–definitely tips to apply to many factors in life.

Dianne T Jun 11 2010

Note: Melody’s blog is classified as “Pornography” on a top major categorization site. She doesn’t deserve to be recognized on this blog.

Ryan Glover Jun 11 2010

Just went through a drought myself. Kind of a bummer, but did a lot of the things in this article. Best thing to do is not let it scare you. Take the break and you’ll come back stronger than ever.

Francesco Jun 11 2010

One way to relax is going to museum or theater or dancing tango! :-)

Laura Jun 11 2010

Thanks for the post! All you are saying is true, yet, I forget to get my head out of design at least one moment per week.
I’ll take your advice and get back to gym.. or at least to bike riding :)


Polly Jun 11 2010

It may sound a bit funny, but I found that having pets is a good way to take your butt out of the chair. Taking the dog for a walk, watching the cat play… Animals are so carefree, that it’s contagious.

Greta post Melody.
Can I change my webstie url to your Friends link.

sijEEsh Jun 12 2010

Good article…

Mal Milligan Jun 12 2010

Good thinking Melody !! I can tunnel into a project literally all day and half the night. It is important to get away from the keyboard to let your mind rest and get creative powers re-booted. Going to the gym or even taking a walk are great ways to force yourself away from the screen for a while… thanks for the post – regards !!

Tyler Jun 12 2010

The battery has to recharge somehow, so why not recharge doing something fun?

Great article.

Preston D Lee Jun 12 2010

I also recently posted an article titled:

“Avoid design burnout by limiting client revisions” I think that can be one way to avoid burnout. When clients just want to keep making changes to the design and you don’t have the nerve to tell them “no”, you can get burned out really quickly.

In case you would like to read the article, here’s a link ->

Nice article.

inspirationfeed Jun 12 2010

I strongly agree with Exercise. I lift weights for an hour each day and then cardio for 30 minutes. This will get you jacked, and attract the ladies. I know this sounds cheesy but its sooooo true.

wildanr05 Jun 12 2010

“Take Care of Your Health”. So true.. it’s just happened to me. Thx for article :)

Tanya Jun 12 2010

Great Article and I must say Great Thinking

Maidstone Jun 12 2010

:) totaly agree

especially about eating..

I would add – 7) don’t waste your energy, especially on online games :D

a3u5z1i Jun 12 2010

“What are your own tips, tricks, and favorite resources for combating design burnout? What causes design burnout?”

My favorite is walking in the park, or reading a novel. And, I think read some blog, like this one, will really help to get an inspiration..

Sorry for may bad English. Thanks for sharing :)

Scott Jun 13 2010

Exercise I would say is a massive help for clearing your head. It also helps you get a decent night sleeps as well. The thing i would add to the list is music. If you alter the music you listen too every day when working, it creates a bit of variety and keeps things fresh.

Gregor McKelvie Jun 13 2010

Great post. I think it’s true for all professions! @gregormckelvie

Louis Jun 13 2010

Melody, well done on this article. Good topic. Looking forward to seeing more from you.

Melody Jun 14 2010

Polly, I totally agree with you. There is something about the attitude of pets that is very contagious. In fact, I’m hoping to get a lil puppy myself within the next couple of months! =D

Mal, No problem, I think all of designers have those all nighter days where it’s almost impossible to detach from the screen. But even in that one moment you look away–decide right then to get out!

Tyler, What a brilliant analogy, thanks for contributing!

Preston, Nice article, I’ve had to do the same many times, especially when clients think you are their person lap dog and will do anything for a buck.

InspirationFeed – That’s a sexy way to think of it. Hey, if you get the attraction of ladies then some of your time will be spent with great company ;)

Scott, Music is a wonderful avenue for positivity. I think it’s major though, to play music that is incredibly positive (not depressing) or gets you really excited, then go back to work with that new found attitude.

Louis, Thanks, hope to stick around! =D

Rosti The Snowman Jun 14 2010

As it’s the world cup this will be my outlet to avoid burnout!

vlado Jun 15 2010

Totally agree with rule “Don’t design” !!!
Body and mind exercises are good too

Nottingham Jun 15 2010

Yes very true, I think it is highly important to be able to decipher between work and leisure, if you cant, for example you work from home, you will soon loathe your work! Great post.

David Jun 16 2010

Great post here, i think most designers experience a time when they are burned out, especially when working for a company (as opposed to freelance) your forced to be creative in a short time span.

Taking a break from work can be very productive and can rejuvenate your mind for the next days work.

Thanks for posting this.

Very good article, it is very important not to burn yourself out. Ive done it a few times and it takes weeks to properly recover – NOT GOOD. I find now if an idea aint coming its best to remove yourself from the situation, go away have a cup of tea or play guitar anything that isn’t taxing your brain to be creative.

Michael Hart Jun 16 2010

Great advice Melody. A few I do, and a few I don’t. I think finding a mentor would be a good step for me.

Scott Corgan Jun 16 2010

I’m already burned out. Too many blogs!!!

Graham Miller Jun 16 2010

I’d also like to mention doing the type of work that suits you at certain times of the day. I prefer to do design work in the mornings – I’m at my best then. I always have a lunchtime lull (nothing to do with what I eat, I don’t have a big lunch, honest!) then do something more inspirational in the afternoon. I often get the design bug again in the evenings, and really enjoy working at home with some music playing, unless there’s football on…

Really enjoyed your article, thanks.

badrun Jun 17 2010

‘things to do before I die’. yea. we never know when it come, better to do everything we want, as we can, as we still have time.

Thomas Harding Jun 17 2010

Great article. I’ve more or less made the jump professionally from Developer to Designer recently and these are some great tips to take on board when I feel those familiar panic feelings coming in.

My only problem is that I don’t work at home so a lot of these don’t apply to me, although the weekend is more than enough time to reset me.

Great article though ;-)

Hazel Marie Jun 17 2010

Get a New Hobby was my favorite… Find a Mentor is a bit of a stretch…

Cool! Thanks for all the tips. My hobby is riding on my racing bike. Then I fell fresh again. It is awesome, but not great in cold winters. Then I take my camera and do some long works with my dog.

Mark Smith Oct 10 2011

I always think that I come up with better designs after exercise, 5-a-side on a lunch time (especially if I win!) usually means a good afternoon of designing :)

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