Being a musician isn’t just about the hustle. Sure, it’s important to work hard, market yourself and engage your fans. But this isn’t something you should do with utter disregard for your health and well-being.

You have to think about sustainability. You might be able to get away with losing a few hours of sleep from time to time. You might be able to squeeze a few extra activities into your day-to-day for a while. But if you keep it up, you might burn out… or worse.

If you want to be productive and prolific long-term, you have to know yourself. How much sleep and rest do you need? What foods should you be eating? What recharges and energizes you?  Taking care of yourself needs to be a priority.

Get good at recognizing the early warning signs of burnout. Trying to recover after the fact can be inconvenient and costly.

1. Irritability

If small things are starting to set you off, you might be starting to burn out. You may not be an irritable person by nature, but stresses compounded over time can cause you to act out of character.

If you aren’t one to stew over little things, but you find yourself sensitized to them, you might be on the fast-track to burnout.

2. Exhaustion

We all feel tired from time to time. But if you feel tired all of the time, especially for days or weeks, you might be burning out.

You need energy to do your work, and if you are always exhausted, you won’t be able to get much done. Sleep is underrated. A lot of people don’t sleep enough, and all they’re really doing is digging an early grave.

3. Lack of Motivation

You might be a positive, optimistic person by nature. Even then, if you are on the verge of burning out, you won’t feel motivated to get up and do the work you would normally jump at the chance to do.

The inherent paradox is that you probably started doing the work because you were excited about the results that consistent, hard work would bring. But keep in mind that it’s hard to stay consistent if you don’t have the motivation to continue and stay steady in your work.

4. Lack of Concentration

If you are burning out, you may have a tough time concentrating on any one thing. You might not be able to focus on tasks that you need to complete, and you might not be able to hold a proper conversation either.

Easy tasks will become difficult. Things that took you seconds to do before will suddenly start taking up minutes. Your 14-hour work day quickly becomes unnecessary, because if you were well-rested, you could probably complete the same amount of work in less time.

5. Decreased Productivity

Decreased productivity is another high price to pay for burnout. You will have a hard time staying on top of the things that you know you need to do. This causes more stress. It’s a bad cycle, and you need to get out of it.

Though it’s important to add value to the world, if you don’t take care of yourself first, you won’t last over the long haul. And moreover, you won’t have anything to give the world if you end up burning out.

Final Thoughts

Remember – burnout is preventable. If you consistently engage in activities that energize you and reduce stress, eat well and get proper rest, you probably won’t reach the point of having nothing left to offer the world.

Recovery from burnout usually takes more time than you think it would. This is why the cost of burning out is greater than the cost of consistently investing in your own well-being. If you take care of yourself, you can do a better job of taking care of others too.

I’m all too aware of the message that’s out there. A lot of people wear their 14-hour work days as a badge of honor. Do you know how stupid that is? What is it for? Do you even have a good answer?

Sure, you may have periods where you need to push yourself to your limits, and you may need to pull long hours and even all-nighters from time to time, but if that’s every moment of your waking life, I guarantee you won’t be functioning at peak efficiency for long. Plus, you’re on the bullet train towards unwanted health problems, anxiety, depression, and possibly even early death.

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David Andrew Wiebe

David Andrew Wiebe

Founder & CEO at The Music Entrepreneur HQ
David Andrew Wiebe has built an extensive career in songwriting, live performance, recording, session playing, production work, investing, and music instruction. In addition to helping musicians unlock their full potential, he also continues to maintain a performance schedule with Long Jon Lev and Adrenalize. If you'd like to be notified whenever the blog is updated, click here to subscribe.
David Andrew Wiebe
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