When piecing together a creative project, it is important to understand that not every idea or piece of work will turn out perfect. This can be extra challenging for individuals in the creative industry who pour so much of themselves into their work—from time and money to more personal aspects like identities and ideas. Unknowingly, they face the risk of becoming vulnerable to taking criticism personally.
An annual study by Kisi showed that for the third time in a row, Singapore was ranked the second most overworked city in the world, while four out of the top five in 2021 belonged to cities in Asia Pacific.
With increased workloads, it can get difficult for creatives who need to focus on producing quality work for their clients at a microscopic level. This is exacerbated when they now have a seemingly infinite amount of time at their remote desks to analyse every pixel, frame, and soundbite.
While detachment is essential to a happier work-life balance, finding that sweet spot between caring too much and caring too little can be difficult. How can creatives, then, get things to be perfectly balanced, as all things should be?
The art of detachment
A study by Microsoft last year found that 58% of workers in Singapore feel overworked and 49% feel exhausted, suggesting an unhealthy workforce. Stress is often a creativity killer, and organisations should encourage their employees to take some "unplugged" time off. When they take a break from work, their access to work-related activities are significantly lessened, allowing them to take a step back and return to their job with fresh and creatively-renewed viewpoints.
It might be difficult to take a minute to rethink a situation. Detachment from work is sometimes misinterpreted as a lack of care. However, detachment does not imply disrespect or indifference; rather, it provides a middle ground between the two extremes of caring too much and not caring at all.
Finding that sweet spot
It is difficult to strike the right balance between excess and defiant detachment - err on the side of excess, and one risks being disillusioned from producing quality work ; err on the side of detachment, and there’s a risk of losing that sense of satisfaction and fulfilment. Ultimately, mindful detachment can only happen through conscious effort and practice.
Work projects often start with a goal and a one-track focus on that vision until results are realised. To foster a healthier connection with work, it is critical for mental and physical breaks to be worked into the schedule. The lack of a physical separation between work and home is exacerbated by a continual barrage of digital notifications, making it harder to log off and unplug , blocking the flow of creative thoughts and ideas.
“Core Collaboration Hours”, or a predetermined duration for collaborative work, could also be helpful in allowing employees to segregate between meetings and creative work. This also includes setting healthy boundaries between team members, communicating clearly about working hours and break times to ensure a more balanced work day.
A job does not define a person
Although today’s work situations are often highly demanding, numerous studies have pointed out that psychological separation from work during non-work time is a crucial component of a good recovery process. With an increased likelihood of a burnout as a creative, practising detachment will help to expand employees’ identities outside their profession. As a result, it will be less of a blow to their sense of self when things don't go as planned in that area of their lives.
Part of the journey is also learning to emotionally detach from the workday to properly rest and reset, returning to work with an open mind and new perspectives.
Pia Broadley is head of APAC at Dropbox.