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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 19, 2019

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

1. Create a Daily Plan

Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

3. Use a Calendar

Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

4. Use an Organizer

An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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5. Know Your Deadlines

When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

6. Learn to Say “No”

Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

7. Target to Be Early

When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

8. Time Box Your Activities

This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

11. Focus

Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

12. Block out Distractions

What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

13. Track Your Time Spent

When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

15. Prioritize

Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

16. Delegate

If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

For related work, batch them together.

For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

  1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
  2. coaching
  3. workshop development
  4. business development
  5. administrative

I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

19. Cut off When You Need To

The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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