It happens to even the most creative people: You hit a wall, and the new ideas just can’t seem to manifest themselves anymore. You’re drained and uninspired.
What do you do to get the creative juices flowing again? Below are 21 different ways you can try to reignite your inspiration.
- Change up the Scenery
One of the easiest and most effective stimulants when you’re feeling particularly uninspired is to change up your workspace. Routine can sometimes stagnate creativity. If you have the option, see if you can work out a flexible office schedule that lets you work remotely some days a week.
You can also look for new ideas that will help jazz up existing office space from the best creative industries out there. Make yourself a list of your go-to options. You’ll be able to move to whichever environment best speaks to your creative genius.
- Take a Break From Work to Simply Create
A lot of times the creative juices have dried up because somehow the mind associates work with no play. All you might need to get things moving again is some time to break away and create for the sake of creating. Remember when you were five or six and the best thing in the world was building your own imaginary kingdom, painting a masterpiece or tackling the tree in the backyard?
It was so easy then, when you were running at 80 percent of your creative potential. Don’t get hung up on numbers. Take a cue from your five-year-old self and go play. Have a race with co-workers, play a board game or take a painting break. You can’t build your creativity if you stifle it with only chores.
- Get out for Some Fresh Air
Maybe all you need to spur your work into action is a break from your desk and a quick immersion into nature. A 2014 study by Stanford researchers found that creativity improved by 60 percent in individuals that often went for walks. That’s a 60 percent boost just from the simple and easy activity of walking. It would be silly not to give it a try.
- Lose Yourself in a Book
Just as creating something for play helps with creativity, so does losing yourself in the imaginary worlds created by literary masters. Perhaps there is a certain genre of books that particularly spurs your inspiration. Try joining a book club, so you have an outlet to discuss your favorite parts and bounce your own ideas off the thoughts of someone else. Shared knowledge is another great way to form new ideas.
- Try Something New
Maybe you’ve found that your current hobbies just aren’t doing it anymore. None of them seem to bring you out of your funk. Go back to the drawing board and think about some bucket list items. Maybe you’ve always wanted to try knitting or Salsa dancing? Choosing to try something new brings an excitement and accomplishment that can carry over into your day-to-day activities. Think of it as a catalyst.
- Find a Mentor
If you know anything about increasing your potential for success, then you know that having a mentor is extremely important for many reasons. This is also true for moments you might need help working through a personal roadblock. Chances are good that your mentor has been there too, and can offer helpful and insightful advice on how to handle your situation — even giving you a plan of action to boost your creativity.
- Collaborate, Collaborate, Collaborate
There is a reason they say there is strength in numbers. When you run into a problem, you don’t always have to solve it yourself. In fact, studies show that ideas formulated by groups of six people or more perform 58 percent better than those from smaller groups and individual ideas.
Schedule a weekly brainstorming session with some awesome co-workers or even outside of the workplace with other creative professionals. You’ll have the opportunity to bounce ideas off of them, or be inspired by something they say.
- Get Outta Town
Have you tried changing rooms and changing venues from home to the office, and nothing helped? Maybe you just need to literally get out of town for a little while.
A study by Adam Galinsky found that “foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought.” Exposing yourself to a new culture can bring about new perspectives and spark new ideas to try out when you head back to the office.
- Listen to Those That Inspire You
Find a podcast that you can turn on and tune into whenever you feel like your inspiration is drying up. Many times simply filling your brain with positive words and energy is enough to keep you from spiraling into negative thoughts that discourage and disintegrate what creativity you have left. TED Talks are a great way to constantly get that positivity flowing into you.
- Make the Internet Work for You
Create a list of go-to sites that you know you can count on for quick laughs or inspiration. Your field will dictate which sites you gravitate towards, but in general you’ll know you can always find some things to inspire on Pinterest, Muse or Mashable — even if it’s just for a quick distraction of other things you love.
- Borrow to Get Yourself Started
Borrowing doesn’t mean copying, of course. This just means that sometimes you might need a little help to get you started. For example, say you’ve had a hard time figuring out how to begin your next blog post. Search the Internet for similar topics to see how other authors approached the subject. You just need a little push, and then you’ll be off to the races!
- Research What’s Already Been Done
You can go way back into the archives of history (not just last week’s top blog posts). History is recorded for a reason. The most inventive minds of the past gave birth to the society we live in now. Wouldn’t it make sense to look to them for a bit of long-lost inspiration? Look back over what has already been accomplished, how they did it and how you might improve. You may surprise yourself with a new avenue yet to be explored.
- Now, Write Down the Bits That Inspire the Most
Perhaps in your research you came across brilliant ideas that didn’t help you solve the task at hand. That’s OK. Write them all down anyway. Keep a file reserved specifically for your collected inspiring and creative ideas. It will become an arsenal of weapons to combat the stagnation of your creative process.
Make a Pinterest board to collect them all and share with others or simply add them to a list in Google Keep — whatever works to give you easy access whenever you need it.
- Take Time to Think It Over
Try not to get too hung up on forcing the creative process. Maybe all you need to do is step away, think it over and sleep on it. Come back the next day with fresh eyes. You’ll most likely have a completely new perspective.
- Keep a Positive Attitude
This might seem a bit trivial, but positive thinking has a huge power over how you navigate difficult situations — like creativity roadblocks. Research has shown that positivity increases the chances of quality, creative work. Maybe the only thing you’re missing is the right attitude.
- Give Yourself Some Boundaries
Sometimes having limitless options can be the overwhelming factor that deflates our creative genius. It can make finding a solution seem impossible. Maybe you need to draw out specific constraints for your current project. Dr. Seuss did just that by making a simple bet: that he couldn’t write a book using a maximum of fifty words. What was the result? You probably know it — the children’s masterpiece Green Eggs and Ham. After giving yourself a defined objective, you might find a plan of action comes more easily.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Fail
This is one of the most important things to remember. You learn the most from failure. Sure, it doesn’t feel awesome to fail at anything, but mistakes and failure lead to new growth and development — which ultimately leads to new ideas and innovations. Embrace the failure! It will lead to your next success.
- Keep a Journal or Notebook
In this notebook, write down new ideas that you track from their inception to their implementation — and include failed ideas. It’s always useful to have your creative processes documented.
Go back and review your ideas periodically. Maybe that idea from six months ago didn’t work before, but now you understand why it didn’t and have a possible new solution. It’s a helpful exercise to encourage personal growth and innovation.
- Find Connections in Opposites
The world is an interconnected place. Be the innovator that looks for possibilities in the most unlikely places. Many times in today’s society, it is necessary to search out these attractions between opposites. Choose to read about an area you know nothing about, or try an activity unrelated to your work.
Most likely your different approach will yield different results than someone already entrenched in the area of work. The possibilities are endless!
- Ask Yourself If It Is Useful to Others
When you pose the questions of your project’s usefulness to others, you are creating what scientists call “psychological distance.” Studies have shown that the use of psychological distance in problem solving actually increases levels of creativity. If you can already envision your project being used by others, for example, you are more likely to come with ways to achieve the desired end goal. Be future-oriented when you are creating.
- Sometimes It’s Best Just to Do Nothing
If all else fails, just stop and do nothing. You may simply need some time to sit in your chair and exist. Step back, put the task out of your mind and flip on some music or the TV. It’ll be waiting when you get back, so don’t stress.
Have some other great creativity hacks not on the list? Add your comments below or share on Twitter tagging me @SarahLandrum! We all need a little inspiration every now and then.
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