12 ways to feel creative again

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Photo credit: MissMessie

We all have those moments when portions of our brain act like a stubborn donkey and refuse to move. Here are ten creative ideas to get your creative ideas moving again! I would love to hear your ideas in the comments below.

1. Take a walk

Stepping away from the mental roadblock can give you a new perspective. Taking a walk gets blood flowing and exposes you to new aromas, which can help jumpstart your brain cells.

If possible, walk outside. Fresh air is always beneficial.

2. Read something inspiring

The Internet is full of inspiring articles and illustrations. Find something motivational from LifeHacker, Michael Hyatt, or your favorite blog. Read the article to its fullest (forcing your brain to focus), and then get back to work.

Don’t let yourself get sucked into bouncing around the Internet!

3. Listen to a relevant podcast

There are podcasts on almost every subject! Sometimes, a simple comedy podcast can help you laugh. But more inspirational than that would be a podcast relevant to what you’re working on.

Hearing other people talk about the thing you’re trying to do will transfer some of their enthusiasm to you. It may even give you the missing piece you needed.

(I’ll share my complete list of podcasts I listen to soon.)

4. Listen to some music

Maybe talking voices aren’t what you need. Open your media player, grab your iPod, or launch Pandora to start listening to some uplifting music. Try listening to your favorites that make you want to move with the music, or stretch your mind by listening to something new.

5. Look at others’ creative results

Someone once said, “imitation is the highest form of flattery,” but I’m not telling you to imitate anyone. Ultimately, your creativity needs to be your own. But looking at the respected results of others can give you ideas for your own task.

For example, I may see how another web designed uses a particular font on their site. This could inspire me to pick a different font, adjust my font sizes or colors, or perhaps springboard me to somewhere completely different.

6. Do some exercises

“Creative juices” must be in the bloodstream, because getting your blood flowing is one of the best ways to energize your mind. Do some jumping jacks, pushups, sit-ups, or a quick jog.

It shouldn’t be anything so involved that you end up too tired to work. But it should be hard and long enough to get your heart racing. I suggest 20 or more pushups, or run (or walk) up and down some stairs a couple times.

This has many health benefits beyond helping your brain.

7. Play a musical instrument

Remember Sherlock Holmes? There’s actually a science to musical instruments and the brain. Playing a musical instrument connects the left and right hemispheres of your brain.

Just like two animals pulling a cart, one side can motivate the other to keep going.

8. Drink a glass of water

Fill a glass of water that’s at a temperature easy enough for you to drink. I recommend room temperature or slightly cooler. (I have this down to a formula of for the water I get in my 12-ounce glass.)

Drink the full glass without pausing, if you can.

Water has countless health benefits to our bodies. Most of us don’t drink enough water.

9. Claim a small victory

“Victories” are contagious in your brain. If you can accomplish something small, it often encourages you to tackle the next project because you feel more empowered and a little bit more successful.

10. Clean your work area

Look around you. How much clutter or dust is around you? Start a timer for 15 minutes (use e.ggtimer.com if you don’t have a timer on your watch or phone) and clean or put away as much as you can. When the time is up, stop!

This gets your blood flowing, helps change your surroundings, and can remove subtle distractions for your task.

11. Change your environment

If possible, grab your work and go somewhere else to do it. This could be a local library or coffee shop, another room in your house, or a public space at your work place.

Our brain gets into ruts. Being in the same chair, same room, same lighting, same everything every day creates a mental rut and our brain doesn’t work as much. But changing your environment is like an energy shot to the brain.

If nothing else, try to change your lighting or sit differently in your chair (or stand!).

12. Write what you’re thinking

Lastly, consider writing down your mental process or what you’re struggling to solve. Even if your task is to write something, write something about what you’re supposed to write about! You could write down why you need to do the project, what the goals are, or even what you think or feel about the project.

(Would you have guessed that this post is the result of my feeling uncreative?)

Writing gets your brain engaged and focused. Sometimes, it can also get the things off your brain that are distracting you from what you need to do.

How do you feel creative again?

What’s your industry and what do you do to get your creative juices flowing? I would love to hear from you! Share your tips and experience in the comments below.

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  • Vickie Sceifers

    I do #10 but I call it “puttering”. I just get to the point I can’t stand the clutter. Even if it’s not directly in my way, I know it’s there. #11 is a big one for me too. Since I use a 27″ iMac, I can’t exactly take it with me so when I want to work offsite, I have to plan what I can do on a laptop. But going to another location (usually Panera or sometimes even McDonald’s) gives me a boost. Sometimes I’ll do it for 2-3 days. Just to break up the view of my peripheral vision. If nothing else, it give me a greater appreciation for my own office. #12 is crucial for me, but not exactly from the creative standpoint. And I don’t write. I find my thoughts pouring out so much, I use my Evernote audio recorder. I can get all my thoughts down quickly, I can easily do it while driving, and it’s automatically sync’d to my office computer.

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      That’s something I love about having a MacBook as my primary PC—I can take it anywhere. Though I do miss the external monitor, nice speakers, and comfy desk chair.

      I’m on an iPhone now, so maybe I should reconsider Evernote. I used Springpad a lot, but have found Workflowy’s simplicity to get less in the way of what I’m doing.