One of the questions that comes up frequently in the Facebook group is “How do I get myself out of a creative rut?”
It’s something that plagues all creative at some point, often in frequent intervals throughout the year. I’ve definitely had my fair share of “loss of mojo” moments and know how frustrating and self-defeating they can feel at times. So I wanted to share a list of 10 things you could try (most of which I’ve personally tested and found helpful at some point in my career).
#1: Take a Quick Break
If you’re working on something and it’s frustrating, walk away from it. Take the dog for a walk. Read a chapter in a book. Do something completely unrelated to work for at least 15 minutes. Hopefully, after you’ve had a chance to switch gears, you can come back with a fresh mindset.
#2: Take a Sabbatical
Have you ever had a feeling of dread or felt constantly overwhelmed by all the work you needed to get done? If so, then you might consider taking a longer break (one week at minimum).
I hit a rough patch in my business in early 2015, so I took a full month off and it was the best decision I could have made! It allowed me to take a mental break and also reflect on where I wanted my business to go.
#3: Work on Something Else
While meeting deadlines is important, if you’re designing something and not feeling inspired, consider working on a non-creative business task for a bit.
Maybe you have clients that you need to email or plan out your social media posts for the next week – just pick something completely unrelated to the creative task that’s frustrating you. By switching gears and completing something else, you’ll have a sense of accomplishment that just may help motivate you.
#4: Write a Good Things List
Get a piece of paper and make a list of everything that you’re good at or that’s working in your business. It can be something as small as “I got 1 new Instagram follower today”.
After you’re done, reflect on the list. You’ll probably realize that although not everything is running smoothly, you still have a lot going for you. This tactic is especially helpful when having a bad morning.
#5: Get Off Social Media
Being connected is a great thing when it helps to fuel your creativity, but as soon as you find yourself feeling jealous or “behind” in your business because of what someone else is doing, it’s time to shut your phone off. Next time you feel this way, try to check social media only during non-office hours.
#6: Make Sure Your Basic Needs Are Met
We all know that we should maintain a healthy lifestyle, but so many of us don’t (myself included). And I realize that in especially stressful times it can be difficult not to scarf down an entire pint of ice cream in one sitting (something I’ve done at least once in the past month), but those are the times when it’s most crucial to maintain healthy habits.
#7: Change Your Scenery
I bet that 90% of the time you work at the same place every day. Especially if you work from home by yourself, it can be incredibly energizing to mix it up and spend an afternoon working at a coffee shop or library.
Sometimes it will be impossible for your to leave your home (hello global pandemic). In those instances, just change your workspace for the day. Sit on your couch or go out on your patio/in your backyard and work.
#8: Just 10 Minutes
When you’re not feeling it, working for an entire day can feel like a monumental task. Instead, try setting a timer for 10 minutes and tell yourself that’s all you have to do. If you’re still not feeling creative when the timer goes off, you can feel good knowing you gave it a shot.
However, you may just start to hit your stride before those 10 minutes are up and decide to keep working. I’ve tried this a few times (especially for tasks I’d been putting off) and it works like a charm.
#9: Put a Fresh Twist on It
There’s probably a few tasks you get caught up on during the design process and chances are, they are the same steps every time. Instead of doing the same old routine, why not try to put a fresh spin on things?
Don’t enjoy creating traditional Halloween motifs? Maybe you should consider alternate, but similar themes like Day of the Dead, zombies, or monsters.
Get stuck in a rut picking color palettes? Go to sites like Design Seeds to get inspired and choose a non-traditional color palette. Just by doing something a little different and outside your comfort zone, you may unlock some creative juices.
Or maybe you’re just not sure what to draw or feeling generally uninspired? Visit our daily sketch word generator that has over 600 unique prompts for you or take a peek at Nina’s list of 10 ways to find surface design inspiration.
#10: Stick to Your Plan
I’m a firm believer in pre-planning, especially when I’m working on a project with lots of moving parts. The best part of having a plan is when I’m feeling unproductive or lost, I can revisit my notes and get immediately back on track.
Don’t have a plan? Don’t panic. Just make a list of all the basic steps you need to complete and give yourself a realistic deadline for each. And if it’s a really in-depth project or a large goal you’re working towards, check out our free goal-setting workbook that can help you get started!