How To Overcome DJ Burnout

With any profession, burnout is a real challenge that often crops up when you least want it to. The feeling of not being able to create or wanting to do something that you love can be incredibly frustrating – but it is a challenge that so many creators struggle with. In today’s article, we’ve collected some tips from the DJTT community on how DJs who struggle with burnout can get past it.

Burnout Is A Real DJ Problem

To people who aren’t in a specific creative profession (like producing, DJing, or any art form), the concept that you would get tired of it sounds absurd. Anytime a touring DJ talks about needing to rest, or a superstar producer claims they lack inspiration to make new tunes, it can seem like a bit of a first world problem. But this is very common – and not just in creative fields. Here’s a quick list of feeling that you might have when you’re burnt out:

  • low motivation
  • a sensation of being “drained”
  • low energy to accomplish basic tasks – even ones you love
  • loss of appetite and passion

There’s a great article that was in the New York Times last year on recognizing burnout before it happens – take a moment to read it. Even though it is focused on workplaces, almost all the concepts apply to DJs and producers.

We reached out to the DJTT community recently to ask everyone to share their best tips on avoiding burnout in our industry. Here’s some of the best advice we’ve heard (please, add more in the comments on this article!):

Take Breaks To Reflect + Relax

High-paced performance and production  schedules and constant stimulation can make it really hard for your “musical ears” to remember what they like. Your mind needs a healthy balance of time spent creating and time off in order to keep everything sustainable.

Don’t Take On New Gigs When Burnt Out

This advice comes from a great article on Psychology Today on ways to recover from a serious bout of being burnt out – avoid adding new responsibilities when you’re already feeling zapped.

“Just say “no.” While you’re “recovering,” avoid taking on any new commitments or responsibilities. I know you have to live in the real world and there will be some things that you just can’t get out of doing. But high octane women have a bad habit of saying “yes” when they can say “no.” Resist that urge.”

This applies to gigs, production projects, anything that will add an extra feeling of needing to do something instead of wanting to.

Seek Inspiration From Peers

Being able to check out what other DJs and producers are doing is a clever way to kickstart your own creative mindset again. Seeing other creative people achieving success can be very motivating, and break through mental roadblocks.

This concept of “going out to solve burnout” was echoed by a number of DJTT readers – here’s a similar idea from Garistotle: 

It’s hard for me to DJ at home even if I want to, and I usually don’t. So I avoid burnout by going out to the places where I want to play. If the DJ that’s playing is tearing it up, it makes me want to be a part of the fun and also brings out my competitive side (which makes me want to practice at home). If nothing else, I have a great time out! If I go to a place I like and the DJ isn’t making people dance or vibing out the room, it makes me want to start the relationship with whoever books the music.

Play Games When DJing

Inserting clever ways to have fun when mixing tracks can be a great way to enhance your enjoyment by adding creative limitations or challenges. I wrote an article all about games to play when hanging out with other DJs and going B2B – like playing “Around The World” in BPM or choosing tracks via a Roulette style random scroll – but here’s two more ideas from DJTT reader More Or Les:

  • I’ve created a playlist in iTunes called “Whatevs Clev” where I stash any song of any genre that pops into my head when I’m not DJ’ing. When I get stuck, I jump to that playlist for inspiration
  • Sometimes I’ll adopt a theme – eg. type “remix” into the search field of my DJ software [..] and only choose songs from the search results

Set Small, Attainable Goals For Your DJ/Producer Career

Sometimes it can seem like “success” is such a distant concept that it actually becomes demotivating. As suggested by DJTT reader Martin, a great way to break loose of that is to make a list of small goals for yourself. Then, when you check those off, you still get the mental feeling of succeeding!

For me, the most suitable way [to overcome burnout] is to set always new goals. I am not talking about goals like “Next Year i wanna be on Stage with David Guetta”,  [but instead] goals which I am able to reach with a realistic invest of time and will. (eg: Putting out a new mixtape by this date, or having improved a specific routine or skill.)

Have your own ways to solve being burnt out on DJing? Share in the comments!

Read Next: Mental Health + DJing: What No One Wants To Talk About

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