When you work in a creative industry where you are getting paid for your mind more than anything else, there is a lot of pressure to generate creative, useful ideas every second of every day. If you are anything like me, half of your time is spent blankly staring at the screen, trying to think of the perfect way to say something. So how do you combat these moments? How do you make sure that when you sit down to write, design, or create the ideas are going to be ready to flow?
Well, we have a few pointers.
1. Find Your Creative Sweet Spot
In a post I read awhile back, Andrew Bailey discusses how to find your "biological prime-time." This is essentially the time of the day when you are the most productive. Andrew found his by recording his amount of energy, motivation, and focus every hour of the day (minus the ones where he was asleep) for 3 weeks. Finding your "biological prime-time" or your creative sweet spot as I call it, can help you determine when during your day you should be focusing on creative tasks, and when you should be focusing on more analytical or monotonous tasks.
I have personally given this tactic a try, and can say it works wonders. I have about three three-hour periods throughout my day when I am at my best. Keep track of when you are feeling at the top of your game throughout the day, and find your sweet spot!
2. Set the Mood
Sometimes when you are having trouble creating, the problem is that you just aren't in the right head space. So how do you get there? One of the things I have found useful is setting the mood for myself. If I am working from home, I light a candle, make some tea, and turn on some soft background music. At the office I get away from my desk and listen to classical music. You might have to experiment to find what works for you, but odds are you already have some idea of what helps you get focused and get creative.
3. Change Your Location
Did you know that walking through doors can cause memory lapses? Our brains tend to categorize things in an episodic format, so when we enter a new room and perhaps a new situation we start a whole new event, and our brains forget information from the last one.
Creativity follows a similar pattern. Entering a new room with a new feel can start a whole new episode in your brain, lending you the creative energy you've been needing. For me this happens constantly when I stand up and go to the bathroom in the middle of a project. Suddenly, I will be struck with a brilliant idea or the solution to the problem I had been trying to answer for an hour. So if you need help generating an idea or two, go for a walk or enter a new room. You might find that all you needed was a little change.
4. Carry a Journal
I can't count the number of times I have sat at my desk for hours on end trying to think of the perfect word or sentence, only to think of it while on a walk, or at the grocery store, or laying in bed. Carrying a journal at all times can help you record these spontaneous moments of inspiration. When you get to work and start focusing on a project, you can open your journal for a little inspiration and hopefully find the answers to some of the creative problem you have been facing.
5. Use Brainstorming Resources
If all else fails and you are still having trouble coming up with new ideas, hit the internet and start looking for inspiration. There are plenty of tools out there that can help you generate and expand upon your ideas. And if that doesn't get the creative juices going, use the human resources all around you. Getting together with a coworker and talking an idea out can help you get things rolling.
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