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Need Rest for the Wicked

I have been on a pretty steady pace of putting up a new post every Monday on this blog for a while now.  The feedback I have gotten both in person and through twitter has been fantastic, and I am so thankful to everyone who has taken time out of their day to read my posts.  Although I have lots of recordings in the can to share, this past week has been so busy with work that I was not able to pull all the elements together for a recording adventure story.  Instead here is a little meditation on one of my big short comings in this audio business - Knowing when to take a break and relax before my brain melts.  Let me know if you have figured a way around these problems:

I have always said that it is better to have too much work rather then no work at all.  But the last couple months have put that theory to the test.  I am dead on my feet.  I have been pulling long, long days and have not had a day off for awhile during this stretch.  

Just in the last two weeks I have cut the dialog and conformed the SFX for two episodes of a japanese animated series that is being re-launched for North America, cut the ambiences, footsteps and hard FX for two episodes of an animated series for adults (think Family Guy-esque), and cut hard SFX for one episode of a children's animated series.   On top of all that I have been covering for a friend on vacation at his one room audio post studio.  Luckily his schedule was not too packed, but just dealing with all the scheduling issues and client back and forth took a big chunk of my focus each day.

Somehow though I got it all done.  Now I need some sleep.  Lots of sleep and maybe a back massage.

It got to a point where I was working 10 hours to complete what would normally be 6 hours worth of work.  I was so burnt out I could not hold a mental focus.  So one day I said screw it and resigned myself to not make it to the point in the edit I was aiming for and took the rest of the afternoon off.  I went for a walk around the neighbourhood, stopped by the grocery store and picked up all the ingredients to make some chilli. I spent the rest of the day chopping and stewing while listening to some of my favourite music.  Then I ate the dinner while watching an unbelievably mindless comedy and laughed my evening away and then hit the hay early.  

The half day I spent taking it easy ended up being a life saver.  When I got back to working the next day, I got way more done than I had expected and I was back involved in the edits instead of simply trudging through them.  

This is a business that seems to love to push you to long hours of last minute work and sometimes that can bring out the best in your work.  A deadline can kick in the adrenaline and inspire ideas and workflows that otherwise might not have been found.  Yet at the same time there is a limit to how long a person can be productive while running on that adrenaline rush.  Even though it seems counter productive at a certain point you have to force yourself away from the computers and microphones in order to recharge your system.  

I always find this out the hard way when my body and mind simply can not function efficiently any longer and I am forced into taking the break.  I am still striving to be smart enough to recognize the symptoms in advance and get proactive before I breakdown.  I have to find a way to schedule those breaks or pauses into the chaos of tight deadlines and work overflows.  As my example above showed even a half day of mental rest and relaxation can make a world of difference.
Courtesy: programwitch under creative commons