Burnout, FOMO and the Death of Creativity



by Mitch Platt

Why am I talking about burnout during vacation season? What does FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) have to do with it?  Recently, I had the pleasure of chatting with several business leaders and knowledge workers about recharging and the fundamental importance of maintaining a creative mind.  We all agreed that when we don’t treat our minds with care we lose our spark. When that happens we become less effective. That drop off is subtle but real. Often we are the last people to notice.

How do you disconnect from the day to day? Why is it important? And what about this FOMO stuff? FOMO used to be “my best friends are going to Ibiza and I can’t go, so I am going to miss out”. Not anymore. Thanks to information technology moving at the speed of light and social networks, we are so plugged in that I have 6 new ones:

  1. Fear Of Missing an email
  2. Fear Of Missing a call
  3. Fear Of not being up to date with our social news feed
  4. Fear Of not being there for our team
  5. Fear Of leaving other people in charge
  6. Fear Of not responding fast enough to “something” because if we don’t the world will explode.  

Sound familiar?  Welcome to FOMO 2015: producer of burnout and the death of creativity.

Do you go on vacation to replenish the mind and disconnect but find yourself with your best friend, the iPhone 6 Plus, or whatever you are rocking, in your hand at all times? Suddenly you are checking emails, making a short call or uploading photos to social media with of course the corresponding likes, hearts, stars and follow on comments that go with it? Total disconnection, right? Guilty? I know I am and I know I am not alone.

As a leader and a knowledge worker my position requires creativity on a daily basis. In fact, I would say this goes for all leaders and knowledge workers. So what can we do? How can we disconnect to recharge? How can we give ourselves a break?

For me it started with identifying that burnout could be a real problem. I noticed my creative mojo had gone missing in action. Then I reached out to other business leaders to discuss the problem and get feedback.  It seems that everybody has their own way of dealing with recharging but there were 3 solutions in common.

  1. Make sure to take breaks where the mind can rest and replenish.
    1. This could be a scheduled day, or weekend or retreat where you truly disconnect. You park your best friend in the charger and there it stays.
    2. This is not a once a year vacation or a family vacation.
  2. Use meditation and other modern day well-being practices to strengthen the mind.
  3. Use of a daily routine that helps you target when you can be most creative.

I have already started incorporating all 3 and I am feeling much more creative because of it.  I am also planning more frequent retreats of disconnection.  

How do you combat creative fatigue and avoid burn out?  I would love to hear your ideas and strategies.
Special thanks to Scott Stephen, Gian Carlo and James Sexton for allowing me to bend their ears during vacation season.  Also, if you haven’t got to it yet, please check out my good friends and business partners, Clay Douglass and Buddy, sharing some great advice on daily routines at the Vendo Terrace podcast.

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