Creativity may come more naturally to some more than others, but we innately all creative in some way. If we allow our minds the time and space to think, and have the right mindset to embrace our creative thoughts and not doubt ourselves or fear the potential failure of an idea.
In this post, I am addressing looking at three roadblocks that can come up, and cause, lack of motivation and creative block. Also how you can overcome these, so that you can get back to thinking and working creatively and be more productive with your work.
Let Your Mind Wander
For the last 4 years, I have been doing a lot of walking. What started as a way to lose the extra weight after having a baby, became a habit. I soon it was not only good for my physical health but also mental health and creative thinking.
When busy at home and distracted by all the others things going on around the place, it can be harder to give my mind room to think, process and come up with ideas.
I often come up with a lot of ideas I wasn’t even trying to come up with while I am out walking. I do not go out with the intention to try and come up with ideas, but rather just let my mind wander. Give it that time to think, without pressure or a need to perform. And with no distractions. I just walk, I may need to stop to watch for cars to cross the road or get out a milk from the baby bag for my toddler, but it is mostly a peaceful time to just think. I think the fresh air and the energy gained from physical activity also aid in giving my mind momentum and feel inspired.
The first roadblock I wanted to address in this post is the forcing of ideas.
Studies show that letting your mind wander, you are more likely to solve problems creatively. So if you have been feeling creative block over a project, and struggling with how best to solve it, then allowing your mind time to wander, and think without force or constraint or pressure, you are more likely to be able to work through it and come up with a solution.
Your mind actually wanders a lot during the day. But if you are really struggling with something, it is great to set aside time to let go and think. I find that by making it part of your normal routine and life, it takes any pressure to perform off, as you do not create the intention that you ‘have’ to solve the problem during a set time. But by making it habit your mind is used to having some regular time to think and process and does so more freely.
The Germans have a lovely saying for the benefits of allowingyour mind time to be idle (or idling) – ‘die Seele baumeln lassen’, which translates as ‘let the soul dangle.’
How to Let your Mind Wander
So regulary doing mindless repetitive and ‘auto pilot’ activities are great. This could be going for walks, doing a regular routine workout at the gym, doing the washing up, folding laundry, taking a long shower, meditating, sitting in the park and soaking up some sunshine, going for a swim or doing your hair.
What is also interesting, is that research has shown that while analytical thinking is best done when you in your optimal working time, and energised. Often the opposite is true for creative thinking. So if you are a morning person, doing your finances in the morning and working out your calender for the day may be a good use of that time, the evenings may actually be a better time for creativity for you.
So next time you are sitting at your desk staring at a blank screen trying to pull out ideas, or you feel like everything you are creating just isn’t right and you need to stop forcing the ideas, but let them flow more naturally, step away, and do something monotonous, take your mind off it and let your mind just go where it wills.
I often find the ideas I have when I just let my mind wander, are often ideas I feel excited about and keen to work on. They don’t feel forced or contrived, but feel inspired and much deeper and have greater unique value.
Stop looking at what What Everyone else is doing.
There is a reason design has a process. Well many reasons. It keeps you on a path so that you can take the steps from brief to final art.
Yet we can so easily stray from the path off into the woods, distracted by pretty flowers, lovely birds and other cute little critters and plants.
I have been working on designing a new website for myself. I had been pretty focused on what I had planned and was working away at coding it up, tweaking it and getting it all together and just right. Then I stumbled on some inspiration on Pinterest. ‘Ohh like that layout idea, maybe I could adjust one of my pages and do something a bit like that.’ and ‘I love the way the layered the text over the image there or adding a hand-drawn element in there’ I should do that’. And then stumbled upon someone else’s website, ‘Oh wow I love the big full-width image they have of themselves, it looks so good, maybe I should create one too.’
I feel down the rabbit hole, of comparison procrastination. Instead of sticking with the ideas I had and getting on with the work and getting it done. I was off looking at other people work, basically returning back to the ‘gathering inspiration’ stage of design over and over, when I should have been going through the final artwork and code stage.
Comparison procrastination is where you start working on something, then eye off someone else work and suddenly want to change and better things, you are moving along it’s coming together, then bam, you see someone’s work that is just so inspiring and amazing and suddenly you feel back to square one. ⠀
Stop looking at inspiration and comparing yourself to others mid-project!⠀
Following the design process. Gather your inspiration and mood board before you start. THEN head down, blinkers on, focus and do the work.⠀Don’t let comparison cause procrastination.⠀
How to put those Blinkers on.
- Stick to the design process, but strict, that once you have gathered your inspiration you don’t go back for more
- Remind yourself tweaks can always be made later, first get the work done and finished. You can always come back to it later and make adjustments, but first let’s stop the procrastination and get it done.
- If you do come across something inspiring, bookmark it, pin it, put it in a folder. Set it aside to reference for another project. Don’t let it influence something that is already in motion.
- Set yourself due dates. Even if it is a personal project with no set date. Nothing motivates you more to just get on with things and stop messing about then a good old hard down the line due date. Motivate yourself even more by promising yourself a reward if you get it done by that date.
- Make yourself accountable. Rather than just going with the flow, set out a checklist for the process, and mark it off as you go, to remind yourself what you should focus on next and also to motivate you to keep on track. I love using Asana for this.
Find Your Purpose
In those moments when you feel you are lacking motivation in your work. When you feel detached. When you feel like the ideas just aren’t coming and you are questioning what you are doing anyway and if anyone even likes it or cares. Then it is time to go back to purpose to reenergize your creative drive and passion for your work and get back into the groove again.
When I lose sight of purpose, this is when I start to question what I am doing and find it hard to create, nothing seems right.⠀I feel lost and then will slowly trail off and find it hard to create or produce anything.
When you go back to he root purpose of what you are doing and ask yourself:
- Who is it for?
- What is it for?
- How does it help?
- What does it do?
- Why does it do it?
- Why do I care about this?
- What is the aim/desired outcome?
- What are the benefits?
Address and getting clear of the why and purpose of what you are doing and also who you are doing it for and the difference ti will make for them, will really help to motivate and inspire you.⠀You will feel like you have direction and a reason for doing what you do. It will reignite the spark and passion for your work.
Most of all it’ll get your creative mojo back, as the process of going through these thoughts, will get you thinking again about other ways you can fulfil this desired purpose in other creative unique ways. You will be able to listen to and reach out to the people you want to be serving and better learn what will benefit them and what they need most from you.
It can be as simple as bringing joy to someone’s day. But if you know who you are bringing joy to and why that is important, it’ll make all the difference to the passion and motivation in your work.⠀
So next time you are feeling lost, directionless, lacking creative drive, motivation and finding things taking way longer then they ought too, go back to these things. Giving your mind space and time to think and wander, sticking to the path and getting on with the work without comparing, and clarifying and defining your purpose and why.