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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

Freelance Writer, Marketer

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Last Updated on September 17, 2018

How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

Today we are expected to work in highly disruptive environments. We sit down at our desks, turn on our computer and immediately we are hit with hundreds of emails all vying for our attention.

Our phones are beeping and pinging with new alerts to messages, likes and comments and our colleagues are complaining about the latest company initiative is designed to get us to do more work and spend less time at home.

All these distractions result in us multitasking where our attention is switching between one crisis and the next.

Multitasking is a problem. But how to stop multitasking?

How bad really is multitasking?

It dilutes your focus and attention so even the easiest of tasks become much harder and take longer to complete.

Studies have shown that while you think you are multitasking, you are in fact task switching, which means your attention is switching between two or more pieces of work and that depletes the energy resources you have to do your work.

This is why, even though you may have done little to no physical activity, you arrive home at the end of the day feeling exhausted and not in the mood to do anything.

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We know it is not a good way to get quality work done, but the demands for out attention persist and rather than reduce, are likely to increase as the years go by.

So what to do about it?

Ways to stop multitasking and increase productivity

Now, forget about how to multitask!

Here are a few strategies on how to stop multitasking so you can get better quality and more work done in the time you have each working day:

1. Get enough rest

When you are tired, your brain has less strength to resist even the tiniest attention seeker. This is why when you find your mind wandering, it is a sign your brain is tired and time to take a break.

This does not just mean taking breaks throughout the day, it also means making sure you get enough sleep every day.

When you are well rested and take short regular breaks throughout the day your brain is fully refuelled and ready to focus in on the work that is important.

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2. Plan your day

When you don’t have a plan for the day, the day will create a plan for you. When you allow outside influences to take control of your day, it is very hard not to be dragged off in all directions.

When you have a plan for the day, when you arrive at work your brain knows exactly what it is you want to accomplish and will subconsciously have prepared itself for a sustained period of focused work.

Your resistance to distractions and other work will be high and you will focus much better on the work that needs doing.

3. Remove everything from your desk and screen except for the work you are doing

I learned this one a long time ago. In my previous work, I worked in a law office and I had case files to deal with. If I had more than one case file on my desk at any one time, I would find my eyes wandering over the other case files on my desk when I had something difficult to do.

I was looking for something easier. This meant often I was working on three or four cases at one time and that always led to mistakes and slower completion.

Now when I am working on something, I am in full-screen mode where all I can see is the work I am working on right now.

4. When at your desk, do work

We are creatures of habit. If we do our online shopping and news reading at our desks as well as our work, we will always have the temptation to be doing stuff that we should not be doing at that moment.

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Do your online shopping from another place—your home or from your phone when you are having a break—and only do your work when at your desk. This conditions your brain to focus in on your work and not other distractions.

5. Learn to say no

Whenever you hear the phrase “learn to say no,” it does not mean going about being rude to everyone. What it does mean is delay saying yes.

Most problems occur when we say “yes” immediately. We then have to spend an inordinate amount of energy thinking of ways to get ourselves out of the commitment we made.

By saying “let me think about it” or “can I let you know later” gives you time to evaluate the offer and allows you to get back to what you were doing quicker.

6. Turn off notifications on your computer

For most of us, we still use computers to do our work. When you have email alert pop-ups and other notifications turned on, they will distract you no matter how strong you feel.

Turn them off and schedule email reviewing for times between doing your focused work. Doing this will give you a lot of time back because you will be able to remain focused on the work in front of you.

7. Find a quiet place to do your most important work

Most workplaces have meeting rooms that are vacant. If you do have important work to get done, ask if you can use one of those rooms and do your work there.

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You can close the door, put on your headphones and just focus on what is important. This is a great way to remove all the other, non-important, tasks demanding your attention and just focus on one piece of work.

The bottom line

Focusing on one piece of work at a time can be hard but the benefits to the amount of work you get done are worth it. You will make fewer mistakes, you will get more done and will feel a lot less tired at the end of the day.

Make a list of the four or five things you want to get done the next day before you finish your work for the day and when you start the day, begin at the top of the list with the first item.

Don’t start anything else until you have finished the first one and then move on to the second one. This one trick will help you to become way more productive.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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