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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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