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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 November 20, 2018

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

A new year beautifully symbolizes a new chapter opening in the book that is your life. But while so many people like you aspire to achieve ambitious goals, only 12% of you will ever experience the taste of victory. Sound bad? It is. 156 million people (that’s 156,000,000) will probably give up on their resolution before you can say “confetti.” Keep on reading to learn why New Year’s resolutions fail (and how to succeed).

Note: Since losing weight is the most common New Year’s resolution, I chose to focus on weight loss (but these principles can be applied to just about any goal you think of — make it work for you!).

1. You’re treating a marathon like a sprint.

Slow and steady habit change might not be sexy, but it’s a lot more effective than the “I want it ALL and I want it NOW!” mentality. Small changes stick better because they aren’t intimidating (if you do it right, you’ll barely even notice them!).

If you have a lot of bad habits today, the last thing you need to do is remodel your entire life overnight. Want to lose weight? Stop it with the crash diets and excessive exercise plans. Instead of following a super restrictive plan that bans anything fun, add one positive habit per week. For example, you could start with something easy like drinking more water during your first week. The following week, you could move on to eating 3 fruits and veggies every day. And the next week, you could aim to eat a fistful of protein at every meal.

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2. You put the cart before the horse.

“Supplementing” a crappy diet is stupid, so don’t even think about it. Focus on the actions that produce the overwhelming amount of results. If it’s not important, don’t worry about it.

3. You don’t believe in yourself.

A failure to act can cripple you before you leave the starting line. If you’ve tried (and failed) to set a New Year’s resolution (or several) in the past, I know it might be hard to believe in yourself. Doubt is a nagging voice in your head that will resist personal growth with every ounce of its being. The only way to defeat doubt is to believe in yourself. Who cares if you’ve failed a time or two? This year, you can try again (but better this time).

4. Too much thinking, not enough doing.

The best self-help book in the world can’t save you if you fail to take action. Yes, seek inspiration and knowledge, but only as much as you can realistically apply to your life. If you can put just one thing you learn from every book or article you read into practice, you’ll be on the fast track to success.

5. You’re in too much of a hurry.

If it was quick-and-easy, everybody would do it, so it’s in your best interest to exercise your patience muscles.

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6. You don’t enjoy the process.

Is it any wonder people struggle with their weight when they see eating as a chore and exercise as a dreadful bore? The best fitness plan is one that causes the least interruption to your daily life. The goal isn’t to add stress to your life, but rather to remove it.

The best of us couldn’t bring ourselves to do something we hate consistently, so make getting in shape fun, however you’ve gotta do it. That could be participating in a sport you love, exercising with a good friend or two, joining a group exercise class so you can meet new people, or giving yourself one “free day” per week where you forget about your training plan and exercise in any way you please.

7. You’re trying too hard.

Unless you want to experience some nasty cravings, don’t deprive your body of pleasure. The more you tell yourself you can’t have a food, the more you’re going to want it. As long as you’re making positive choices 80-90% of the time, don’t sweat the occasional indulgence.

8. You don’t track your progress.

Keeping a written record of your training progress will help you sustain an “I CAN do this” attitude. All you need is a notebook and a pen. For every workout, record what exercises you do, the number of repetitions performed, and how much weight you used if applicable. Your goal? Do better next time. Improving your best performance on a regular basis offers positive feedback that will encourage you to keep going.

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9. You have no social support.

It can be hard to stay motivated when you feel alone. The good news? You’re not alone: far from it. Post a status on Facebook asking your friends if anybody would like to be your gym or accountability buddy. If you know a co-worker who shares your goal, try to coordinate your lunch time and go out together so you’ll be more likely to make positive decisions. Join a support group of like-minded folks on Facebook, LinkedIn, or elsewhere on the internet. Strength in numbers is powerful, so use it to your advantage.

10. You know your what but not your why.

The biggest reason why most New Year’s resolutions fail: you know what you want but you not why you want it.

Yes: you want to get fit, lose weight, or be healthy… but why is your goal important to you? For example:

Do you want to be fit so you can be a positive example that your children can admire and look up to?

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Do you want to lose fat so you’ll feel more confident and sexy in your body than ever before?

Do you want to be healthy so you’ll have increased clarity, energy, and focus that would carry over into every single aspect of your life?

Whether you’re getting in shape because you want to live longer, be a good example, boost your energy, feel confident, have an excuse to buy hot new clothes, or increase your likelihood of getting laid (hey, I’m not here to judge) is up to you. Forget about any preconceived notions and be true to yourself.

  • The more specific you can make your goal,
  • The more vivid it will be in your imagination,
  • The more encouraged you’ll be,
  • The more likely it is you will succeed (because yes, you CAN do this!).

I hope this guide to why New Year’s resolutions fail helps you achieve your goals this year. If you found this helpful, please pass it along to some friends so they can be successful just like you. What do you hope to accomplish next year?

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