Useful tips for when you’re feeling uninspired
As a creative professional, I have come to recognize some of my own pitfalls. Sometimes I struggle with my productivity and it’s often because of the same reasons.
Here is how to get that mojo back:
I need to walk around town for a bit
Taking a walk can help you reflect and give your brains some air. Try taking a different path than you usually would. Then go back to your workspace, and try again. The reason this works for me, is that I sometimes get fed up with a space. Seeing other environments and people can trigger new ideas. Also, fresh air can help you wake up from whatever brain freeze you are in. Furthermore, it encourages you to be explorative when you take a path you haven’t tried. I used to do this a lot when I was studying. It’s a great idea to try a ‘walking meeting’, find a cool new spot close to your workspace, or play a game. I like to try to challenge myself to find a certain color, object or type of building. In that way, your walk will be more engaging and will help put your mind off the problem you faced at the office.
I don’t play or doodle enough
My favourite book on doodling is ‘The Doodle Revolution’ by Sunni Brown. She explains that doodling can free up memory, improve content retention and increase your attention span. She elaborates: “when the mind starts to engage with visual language, you get neurological access that you don’t have when you’re in a linguistic mode”. That means that as you work with visuals, you unlock some new head space you couldn’t use otherwise! Interesting to explore, I’d say. In my personal experience, doodling can also work very well at times when you are not feeling inspired. You can try applying that to your own work. Here are some other ideas you might like: You can try and doodle your favorite drinks, people, animals, books and places. Or if you can’t draw for the life of you, try making a mind map or mood board!
I underestimate the power of breaks
Going to get a drink works just like taking a walk or switching up your work space. Your brain needs new impulses to come up with ideas and inspiration you have not tapped into before. You are like a computer in some ways: When the input is always the same, you can’t expect a different output all the time.
In this case, the chemicals in the coffee aren’t responsible for creative influx. The chemicals do help on a droopy morning. It’s the fact that you are taking a break in a physical form, that allows your body to relax and to breathe. You are making room for new impressions outside of the scope of ideas you are trying to summon. Yet, you should be careful. I catch myself drinking a ton of coffee when i’m not paying attention. So please, do mind that this tip doesn’t revolve around coffee. It revolves around you having a coffee (or tea or pizza or sandwich…) as a physical break.
I forget to ask outside input
Get on the phone or walk outside, and talk to someone! Whether you call your mom or talk to the cashier at the supermarket, this can give you a new perspective. It’s a total myth that creatives are these lone crazies or individuals. The best ideas and solutions come from collaborations. If just discussing the problem does not work, how about invite someone to help you crack it? Maybe a stranger, but how about a fellow creative? According to Tom and David Kelley’s book ‘Creative Confidence’, their experience is that creativity works ‘like a team sport’. But how can you best approach this? Tom and David point out that it’s important to first and foremost accept that you yourself do not have all the answers. This requires humility, but will probably also take some of the pressure off. You can look for people to collaborate with within your existing network, but you can also tap into online design/creative communities, or any other communities related to your field of work. Try reaching out to someone who you think is doing cool stuff, and keep looking for a collaborative relationship where you can build on each other’s ideas.
I forget to put my phone away
It’s super easy to stay glued to your phone when you actually have work to do. Keep it out of sight for as long as possible when you are working! This a tip that might seem obvious, but I’m pretty sure you have a difficult time putting your phone away. Yet, multitasking with a phone does not work well. And it’s not for the reason you would think it does. In a study by the ‘Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance’, the researchers discovered that when you are focusing on a task that requires a lot of concentration, you will make a lot more errors if you receive a notification. Not even a call or a text. Just a simple icon popping up meant people performed poorly in the tests. You might have heard of dopamine: the stuff that controls the parts of the brain related pleasure, making you want to gorge on, for example, food or sex. Additionally, studies show that dopamine is also responsible for making you curious. When you receive a text or notification, you get instant gratification for the thing you want to know more about, or for the person you wanted to contact. It causes a dopamine loop – which is what makes us addicted to our mobile phones. As such, putting your phone away on silent mode will not only cause less distraction, it will also help you do better work. If there is any way to let inspiration hit you, you have to be able to let it!
I neglect making a space I love
It won’t help if your desk is a mess and the stuff you need is not in place, to get amazing new ideas. Make it tidy and make it inspirational! It is entirely up to you to decide how you do this. Before I was finishing up this book, I tidied up the closet next to my desk. I threw everything out, sorted stuff I wanted to keep, discarded the rest and cleaned both my desk and the closet. Next, I grouped all the things that belong together on the floor and figured out the ideal way to put them back in place. It helps to decorate your desk with things that inspire you. I like to keep a few prints of my recent work on it, so I can look at what I made and reflect – this gives me new input for artworks. Also, I have a stack of books I like, some photos, and sheet of paper with my ultimate goal written on it. I plan to make it into a mood board, which is what you can also do to make your desk inspiring! Then, move things around and test out what you like best. And while you are leaving a window open, you might as well walk out and go sit somewhere else. A different room in your house, a coffee place, a co-working space… there are tons of options to switch it up!
I forget how useful other hobbies are for fresh inspo
The key to getting inspired is getting new input. It can help to try something new you’ve always wanted to do, but never got around to. I’m not saying you should pick up fencing on a whim and drop everything you are doing. I’m saying it might be a good idea to explore a leisure activity you haven’t tried before. When I started my online business on the side, I realized it made me more productive at my day job. Why? You take over these notions and ideas, and bring energy from a new thing you just learned about. That can be really beneficial if you lack inspiration or need input for a creative brainstorm.