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This is a guest post by Megan Eckman of Studio MME.

November and December make us go into full-out panic mode. We’re shipping out packages left and right, making things as fast as possible, and trying to get our own holiday preparations done (because no one else is going to decorate or bake the Christmas cookies for us). But we need to be very wary and take some steps to avoid burnout right now. Over this little four-part series, I’m going to share my four best tips for not only avoiding burnout but staying in love with your business.

The first tip I have is to schedule play time. We often forget to give our inner artists the chance to play. When all we do is work, work, work, our inner artist (like all ignored children) starts to sulk. We can feel bored, exhausted, drained, and depressed. Even though the to-do list is getting checked off, it doesn’t feel as satisfactory as it should. That’s because we haven’t invested in ourselves.

Our inner artist is the key to our creativity. She’s the one who comes up with our best ideas and helps us feel hopeful and energetic. She’s the one who tells us to whip out that bright pink colour instead of pale grey. She’s the one who tells us to go to the museum to look at an exhibit on ceramics instead of staying on Twitter all day. But if she’s so important to our success and even our happiness, why do we ignore her?

We ignore her because we feel we won’t be productive if we’re playing with yarn instead of writing new blog posts. We don’t feel like we’re conquering our to-do list when we’re taking a walk round the block. We worry we’re wasting our time when spend extra time at the art store looking at shiny supplies we don’t need. We can’t stop thinking about all those sales we could be making while we’re having a dance party in the kitchen.

But here’s the thing: play time is crucial to your success and often our best ideas come out while we’re ‘playing’.

One day, I got bored and pulled out a needle and thread. Several hours later, I had embroidered one of my favourite illustrations. I snapped a picture and put it on my blog. The next day, my blog comment section had exploded with people saying how much they wanted to sew one of their own! That little ‘play time’ embroidery led me to launch a line of patterns and kits that sell as well as my prints.

During this busiest season of the year, schedule an hour or two each week to sit in your studio and make something just for you. Let yourself do whatever comes into your mind. Pull out the glitter! Grab your favourite type of yarn! Go wild! You can always get rid of distractions and get down to business on your non-play time with some time-saving techniques.

I know you’ll feel so invigorated and inspired after an hour of play. You may even have some new ideas for 2013! I’d love to hear if you’ve incorporated play into your business and what big ideas you’ve come up with because of it.

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Megan Eckman is the community coordinator for CreateHype.com, a site that helps female entrepreneurs learn how to market their creative business.

She’s also the illustrator behind Studio MME on a mission to rekindle wonder and ignite imaginations around the world.

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