How to avoid burnout in the creative process

75 percent of marketers showed marked signs of burnout in the last six months according to Asana CMO, Dave King. And this is a rising tendency. These two options will help you protect yourself from burnout.


Do you feel permanently exhausted or low on energy? Do you feel mentally distant from your workplace or do you associate negative feelings with your work? According to the World Health Organization (WHO), these could be the first signs of burnout.

Despite the assumed “work-life balance”, marketers are predestined for burnout

Burnout syndrome is a consequence of chronic stress at the workplace. Stress that has not been successfully overcome, leaving psychological and physical traces. The term burnout refers specifically to phenomena in the professional context. The number of people affected is constantly increasing, which is why the WHO included burnout syndrome in its list of official medical diagnoses at the beginning of the year.

Marketers are particularly predestined to suffer from burnout. Paradoxically, this is primarily due to the multitude of possibilities that marketers now have. After all, this not only increases sales or the number of leads, but also the customer requirements. In most cases, however, the available resources remain at the same level. In addition to this, “marketers attach more importance to the optimization of channels than to the improvement of processes”, said Dave King, CMO of Asana at this year’s DMEXCO.

Too much background noise: why 80 percent of marketers feel overworked

Together with 4Media, Asana found out in a recent study that modern marketers spend 60 percent of their working time doing things about their work, but not doing the actual tasks at hand. This can include status meetings or e-mails, for example. Collaboration tools, which are supposed to provide a remedy, can even intensify this effect. The consequences are serious.

80 percent of marketers say they're overworked. A full 75 percent showed clear signs of burnout within the last six months.

Source: Asana & 4Media study

According to Dave King, there are two major problems that need to be solved in order to reduce the stress level:

1. Lack of transparency in workloads

In her study, Asana discovered that 93 percent of respondents actually believe they are working harder than their colleagues. This creates a feeling of frustration. The WHO also states that poor communication and tasks that are not clearly defined have a negative impact on the psyche in the workplace. In addition to transparent communication, it is also important to make the workload of individual people visible. A possible solution for this is improved project management.

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2. Adapting the corporate culture

It is important that a feel-good atmosphere is created at work. This task lies primarily with the team leaders and management, but the employees must also help so that everyone can feel comfortable in the workplace. The WHO proposes measures for this, which on the one hand inform about mental diseases such as burnouts, but on the other hand also reduce the workload.

Dave King has found another solution for his company. Asana tries to keep the stress level of its employees as low as possible by using one day solely for “Deep Work”. No meetings, no e-mails. This day is just for concentrating on the actual work at hand. According to King, this increases the productivity and positive attitude of employees towards their work.

The bottom line

Many employees, and marketers in particular, are now affected by the burnout syndrome. In order to keep the figures as low as possible, it is important to create transparency and understanding in the workplace, to recognize the signs in good time and then act accordingly. You can find out more about this topic on the WHO website.

As part of DMEXCO 2019, Dave King was also a guest in our DMEXCO podcast. Learn more from him about productivity and project management. Here’s the episode.