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6 Ways to Get Out of a Creative Rut

6 Ways to Get Out of a Creative Rut

It’s the end of the workday and you’re seriously dragging. That time between lunch and five o’clock can be pretty brutal for workers in a creative field as we often struggle to keep coming up with fresh ideas at the day’s end. Although it might seem like the rest of your day is a wash after you’ve hit a creative rut, the fortunate truth is that there are actually several quick and easy ways you can rejuvenate your mind and body to get creativity flowing again.

Here are seven things you can do to climb out of a creative rut, no matter where you are or what you’re doing.

1. Listen to Music

Music has the ability to inspire higher brain functionality when the music being played is something that is enjoyable to listeners. If you find that you’re having trouble getting through the end of a work day, music could be your answer.

Find a genre or a playlist that includes songs with few lyrics so you can focus while listening. If you’re a Spotify user, the site has an entire playlist dedicated to music that helps listeners focus. If you don’t use Spotify, you can find free options for music that facilitates focus on YouTube as well.

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2. Meditate

Reports show that meditation can be linked to increased clarity of thought, improved organization, and a boost in the ability to solve complex problems. That’s why it is an awesome tool for individuals who work in creative fields. When you feel that you’ve lost your motivation, take a quick meditation break. About 15-30 minutes would be ideal, but even just five minutes of focused meditation could help if that’s all you have time for.

Find a quiet room or go out to your car for a quick break. Stream a meditation track on your phone and follow along with its prompts to recharge your mind and focus on the present moment.

3. Ask for Feedback

Sometimes all you need to get back on track with your creative process is a little feedback from a peer. Find a coworker who isn’t working on anything too pressing and ask if they’d be willing to work with you to brainstorm for 10 or 15 minutes. Take one of your top projects or ideas and ask them how they think you could improve upon the idea or how you could potentially amplify the project’s success.

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Having a quick chat with your coworkers about your projects not only helps you get a few more ideas for your work that you wouldn’t have thought of on your own, but it also gets you excited and motivated to get working on that project following your discussion.

If you work from home and don’t have access to a pool of coworkers willing to brainstorm with you, call a friend or family member who’s not busy at the moment and see if you can brainstorm with them for a bit.

4. Get your Body Moving

Studies show that taking part in regular exercise improves creative thought by acting as a cognitive enhancer. The catch is, you have to exercise regularly to see the full benefits.

Getting up and moving around when you’re feeling unmotivated might help you gain a little focus back, but creating and sticking to a regular fitness routine will help you build and maintain a stronger ability to focus in the long run.

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The Mayo Clinic recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week. This means you should shoot for 30 minutes of moderate activity at least five days a week. If you don’t think you have time for this at the end of the day, consider transitioning to walking meetings or dedicate a portion of your lunch hour to taking a quick jog or walk around your building. If neither of those is an option, you could always start your day 30 minutes early and get a quick workout in before you head to the office.

Making time to work out isn’t always easy, but it will be worthwhile when you not only look and feel better, but also improve your ability to focus and get creative at work.

5. Go Outside

Reports show that getting outdoors can help activate the creative part of your brain by quieting down the prefrontal cortex and allowing your brain’s default network to kick in. When you let your mind idle by not focusing on any one thing in particular, your brain begins to dive into old ideas, memories, and emotions that often evoke creativity.

If you have a park close to your office or perhaps a short trail nearby, dedicate your lunch hour to walking around a bit and engaging with nature. Let your mind wander and try not to focus on your daily tasks as you appreciate your natural surroundings during your quick stroll outside. If you want to, you could even turn that walk into a jog or a run to get your exercise in for the day while you’re already out and about.

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6. Watch Something Funny

Experts say that a positive mood is able to enhance creative problem solving and flexible thinking. This is why many productivity specialists recommend watching a funny movie when you feel as though you’ve hit a wall with your ability to focus.

When you’re feeling unfocused, try checking out a funny video or two. Plug in your headphones and enjoy a few moments of indulgence in YouTube’s finest collections of cat videos or human fails. Although this isn’t the most productive use of your time at work, 15 minutes or so of a funny video can help you get the creative juices flowing to help you be a more effective employee for the hours following your funny video binge session.

Staying focused and productive as you work at a job that requires you to use your creative and artistic abilities can be tough. Fortunately, the tips listed above can help you when you feel as though you’ve hit a wall in your day.

If you have a tip you’d recommend to fellow readers, post away in the comments below!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via images.pexels.com

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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