Have you ever opened your laptop just to stare at a blank screen for hours? You have newsletters to compose, emails to respond to, calls to make, meetings to set up … but you just feel stuck. We’ve been there, too! So, we’ve rounded up our top five ways to get your creative-wheel turning even on the toughest days.
Mix things up.
Step away from the computer. We repeat. Step away from the computer.
Sometimes in order to generate new ideas, you need to stop working (for a little bit). This doesn’t mean you have to stop being productive. It might be the perfect time to get your exercise in (hello, spin class!) or get much-needed vacuuming done. Other ideas for changing your scenery, include:
- Tune into your senses while strolling through a nearby park.
- Relax in the warmth of a long, hot shower.
- Breathe in the buzz of your favorite local coffee shop.
- Jam out to your most motivating playlist while enjoying a long car ride.
Often when we feel “stuck,” what we’re really stuck on is something external that’s limiting our ability to think clearly. The space you’re currently in feels too loud, too quiet, too cold, too hot, too bright, or too dim. The very act of relocating will provide you with new creative stimuli while removing you from the excuses you’ve been stuck on. During this break from your work, allow your mind to wander. Just make sure that you have a pen and paper (or voice recorder) on hand because this is often when our best ideas emerge.
Sometimes the problem isn’t that we don’t have any ideas, it’s that we have too much time to express those ideas. Even if you’re not on a tight deadline, creating one for yourself encourages you to get moving! If a client is expecting a response within 24 hours, impress them with an answer in 4 instead. You might even set a timer and commit to working hard for 15 minutes straight. Or refuse to stop typing until you’ve reached 500 words.
Switch your medium.
Print your project and go old school by editing using a pen. There’s something oddly satisfying about crossing words out yourself versus just deleting them on the computer. The same goes for flipping through a document instead of scrolling down a screen. It feels good to fill up a small notebook with creative ideas rather than endless white pages on a digital document.
Use what makes you happy to generate original content. For example, if the smell of homemade cookies or visiting an art museum fills you with excitement, it’ll likely evoke new ideas, too! Look through old photos that leave you smiling (bonus if they remind you of your “why”). And read inspiring quotes . Even making small changes to your day, like getting up earlier, staying up later, or taking your work outside can trigger new thoughts.
Elicit fresh eyes.
Hand over your work to a friend or teammate. You might even take a nap while they read over your work. Yes, your brain is still problem-solving while you sleep. Physically distancing yourself from the issue that’s causing you to feel stuck gives your mind space to work it out without the stress of staring right at the problem.
Above all, trust your instincts. Remind yourself that you do, in fact, know what you’re talking about. While taking a break from the task at hand might seem counterproductive, we promise, it’s not. Even when you’re busy distracting yourself with new activities, your mind will still be humming along trying to unstick the problem that had you drumming your fingers on your desk in the first place.
One last tip for getting into your creative flow is to ensure that you’re prepared to get to work! We’ve made a list (and checked it twice) of various areas in your life to “prepare” before making headway on your goals.