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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 July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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