In my struggle to do more nature journaling, I got some help from a recent episode of The Nature Journal Show by Marley Peifer on burnout. While I’m not burnt out, his advice helps make nature journaling both fun and easy to do. In fact, you can apply most of his advice to any creative activity you enjoy. Two of the eight tips in his 15-minute video have already helped me.
All winter, I have been longing to get outside with my journal. My perfectionist mind says I have to go somewhere amazing and spend hours observing and recording nature. But making that kind of effort keeps me from even starting. The weather is just getting warm enough for sitting still outdoors, so hours of outdoor note-taking hasn’t been all that attractive before now.
When I was playing hooky last week, I combined two of Marley’s suggestions. I realized I was being held back by my perfectionist expectations of myself and re-framed my hidden goal of journaling for at least an hour somewhere special to just ten minutes in my neighborhood. This dovetails with his tip to “eat at a fancy restaurant,” encouraging us to keep our journaling sessions short. Just as the tiny plates of artful food leave us hungry, stopping before we have worn ourselves out leaves us wanting more. This way we remain eager to journal instead of coming to dread it.
This “just a little taste” approach really worked for me. While I wound up spending twenty minutes instead of ten, I still quit long before I was worn out or lost interest in what I was doing.
When I got home, I took a few minutes to add things I had seen or thought of on my way home to my notes. Over the next few days, the note-taking continued as I reflected back on what I had seen or as I saw something new on my daily walks.
Getting just a little taste of nature journaling left me wanting more, and made it easy for me to do more. I should have realized that this could work, because I know the power of setting the bar low, making sure that my goals are so easy to achieve I have no hesitation in getting started. Getting started is often my biggest hurdle, especially with the activities I truly love, because once I get to work, I get involved in what I am doing and do not want to stop.
Burnout comes when we overdo it and turn something into a grind. This can happen even with the things we enjoy the most. I’m really grateful to Marley for his wonderful suggestions and look forward to applying more of them to my nature journaling in the future.
Do you burnout on beloved activities? What is your favorite way to keep your fun time fun?