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3 Ways To Stay Creative When You’re In A Slump

3 Ways To Stay Creative When You’re In A Slump

Being creative is almost synonymous with being successful, so avoiding creative slumps should be a top priority. Creativity is sparked through acquired skills like escaping conscious thought, knowing how to concentrate, and keeping our spirits high. Read below to learn more about the tools you need to obtain to stay creative even when you’re in a slump.

1. Harness The Power Of Music

Thomas Beecham, a significant British conductor from the nineteenth century, is quoted as saying, “The function of music is to release us from the tyranny of conscious thought.” Escaping from conscious thought is critical for creativity; it helps expose us to thoughts and ideas that we would never have uncovered otherwise. The New York Times recently theorized that music is an important key to success, pointing out that many of the most successful people in the world are, in fact, musicians. Indeed, making new discoveries is closely tied to listening to or performing music.

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A great option for unlocking your creativity is to listen to instrumental music, which can blend into the background and avoid disruption but also give you an increased or renewed energy as you work away. Lifehacker recently covered how video game music is tailor made to help us concentrate on what we’re doing, so soundtracks to classic games like Super Mario Bros. might be particularly effective.

2. Focus On The Task At Hand

TIME covered last year how multitasking can be detrimental to our productivity. The more you split your attention the more likely it is that you won’t be attentive enough to the things you are doing. That leads to failure at multiple tasks instead of success at one, a result no one is happy with. As much research as there’s been on the subject, the kind of people who read sites like Lifehack continue to chronically multitask, because we always want to do more. We have to remember that sometimes we can be more accomplished by doing less.

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3. Celebrate Small Wins

Dr. Ken Hudson explains how focusing on small wins can induce positive change, referring to The Progress Principle concept created by Teresa Amabile, a professor at Harvard. In his post he includes a particularly convincing quote from her article for the Harvard Business Review:

“Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work.

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“And the more frequently people experience that sense of progress, the more likely they are to be creatively productive in the long run.

“Whether they are trying to solve a major scientific mystery or simply produce a high-quality product or service, everyday progress—even a small win can make all the difference in how they feel and perform.”

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True accomplishment requires dedication. If we focus on just one lofty goal our motivation will wane when we don’t achieve it right away. If it’s really something worth achieving, chances are it will take time. No one expects the impossible from us, so we shouldn’t expect it of ourselves either. We need to take pride in each small win so we can feel good about ourselves as we continue towards the finish line. If you want to run a marathon, don’t make “Run A Marathon” your sole goal. Break it down into smaller steps or you’ll quickly find yourself overwhelmed. Start with a task on your to-do list that you can check off quickly such as training yourself to run a mile without getting burnt out. Do more and more of those manageable tasks, gradually building up your endurance until you reach the point that running the 26.2 miles is just one check mark away.

Featured photo credit: Lewis Minor via flickr.com

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Matt OKeefe

Matt is a marketer and writer who shares about lifestyle and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on March 31, 2020

How To Break the Procrastination Cycle

How To Break the Procrastination Cycle

How often do you find yourself procrastinating? Do you wish you could procrastinate less? We all know how debilitating procrastination can make us feel, and it seems to be a challenge we all share. Procrastination is one of the biggest hindrances to moving forward and doing the things that we want to in life.

There are many reasons why you might be procrastinating, and sometimes, it is really difficult to pinpoint why. You might be procrastinating because of something related to the past, present, or future (they are all intertwined), or it could be as simple as biological factors. Whatever the reason, most of us follow a cycle when we procrastinate, from the moment we decide to do something to actually getting it done, or in this case, not getting it done.

The Vicious Procrastination Cycle

For some reason, it helps to understand that we all go through the same thing, even though we often feel like the only person in the world who struggles with this. Do you resonate with the cycle below?

1. Feeling Eager and Energized

This is when you commit to taking a new action or getting something done. You are feeling confident and optimistic that, this time round, you will do it!

2. Apprehension Starts to Come Up

The beginning stages of optimism are starting to fade. There is still time, but you haven’t done anything yet, and you start to feel uneasy. You realize that you actually have to do something to get it done, and that good intentions are not enough.

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3. Still No Action

More time has passed. You still haven’t taken any action and probably have a lot of excuses why. You start to panic a little and wish you had started sooner. Your panic starts to turn into frustration and perhaps even irritability.

4. Flicker of Hope Left

You can still make it; there is a little time left and you ponder how you are going to get it done. The rush you get from leaving your task until the last minute gives you a flicker of hope. There is still time; you can do this!

5. Fading Quickly

Your hope starts to quickly fade as you try desperately to understand why you just can’t do this. You may feel desperate and have thoughts like, “What is wrong with me?” and “Why do I ALWAYS do this?” You feel discouraged, or perhaps angry and resentful at yourself.

6. Vow to Yourself

Once the feeling of anger or disappointment disappears, you most likely swear to yourself that this will never happen again; that this was the last time and next time will be different.

Does this sound like you? Is the next time different? I understand the devastating effect that procrastination has on many lives, and for some, it is a really serious problem. You also have, on the other hand, those who procrastinate but it doesn’t affect them in any way. You know whether it is affecting you or not and whether it undermines your results.

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How to Break the Procrastination Cycle

Unless you break the cycle, you will keep reinforcing it!

To break the cycle, you need to change the sequence of events. Here is my suggestion on how you can effectively break the vicious cycle you are in!

1. Feeling Eager and Energized

This is when you commit to taking a new action or getting something done. You are feeling confident and optimistic that, this time round, you will do it! The first stage is always the same.

2. Plan

Thinking alone will not help; you need to plan your actions. I always put my deadlines one or two days in advance because you know Murphy’s Law! Take into consideration everything that you need to do, how long it will take you, and what you will need to get it done, then plan the individual steps.

3. Resistance

Just because you planned doesn’t mean that this time is guaranteed to be different. You will most likely still feel the resistance so expect this. This stage is key to identifying why you are procrastinating, so when you feel the resistance, try to identify it immediately.

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What is causing you to hesitate in this moment? What do you feel?  Write them down if it helps.

4. Confront Those Feelings

Once you have identified what could possibly be holding you back, for example, fear of failure, lack of motivation, etc. You need to work on lessening the resistance.

Ask yourself, “What do I need to do to move forward? What would make it easier?” If you find that you fear something, overcoming that fear is not something that will happen overnight — keep this in mind.

5. Put Results Before Comfort

You need to keep moving forward and put results before comfort. Take action, even if it is only for 10 minutes. The key is to break the cycle and not reinforce it. You have more control that you think.

6. Repeat

Repeat steps 3-5 until you achieve what you first set out to do.

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Final Thoughts

Change doesn’t happen overnight, and if you have some deeper underlying reasons why you procrastinate, it may take longer to finally break the cycle.

If procrastination is holding you back in life, it is better to deal with it now than to deal with the negative consequences later on. It is not a question of comfort anymore; it is a question of results. What is more important to you?

Learn more about how to stop procrastinating here: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

Featured photo credit: Luke Chesser via unsplash.com

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