How to Find Your Creativity When You're Stuck

Only when the tide goes out Buffett quote

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Imagine you’re having one of those days -- you know the one where you just don’t feel like doing anything.

But the problem is, it’s 9:30 on Tuesday morning, and you have an endless list of things that need to be done this week. No matter how hard you try to convince yourself that you can just suck it up and push through your funk, you’re stuck, bored, uninspired.

The good news is there is a way to breathe life into a day on the brink of life support.

After way too many less than productive days, I’ve discovered that these techniques work for me every time.

First, A Few Rules

  • What you do needs to produce something of value. This isn’t frittered-away time used as a stall tactic.
  • These activities should be short. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your day turns around.
  • You’re not taking on a new project. These are bite-size energy snacks.
  • The purpose of these activities is to bring you back to the must-do things in your day with renewed enthusiasm.

  • Getting Inspired Techniques to Try

  • Give yourself permission to accept that every day isn’t going to be a peak performance day. You’re a normal human. Staring at the ceiling at 3 AM happens to all of us. Families and all of the demands that come with them take priority over our basic sleep, workout, responsible meal needs. Clients expect. We commit. We all have our lists that keep us awake at night..

  • Starting my week and every day with a written plan keeps me from wandering too far off track. No matter how well-intended though, some days the plan simply isn't going to happen the way it should. Relax

  • "Great ideas" are in endless supply for most of us. I've shared my techniques for capturing, organizing, and keeping those thoughts under control. When those do-nothing feelings creep into my head, I turn to my idea notebook. The way to get unstuck is to fire up your creativity muscles.

  • Creativity means something different to each of us. Think of creativity as inspiration.

    What makes your mind begin to race with what-if ideas? What triggers the dopamine rush that breaks through your blahs?

    I discovered a simple activity that – without fail – brings me back to an inspired place quickly. I create a visual that explains a concept or shares a simple thought. This visual becomes an Instagram post, an image tucked into an email, a webpage update – any number of possibilities.

    The point is this quick – less than an hour -- exercise not only kickstarts my energy but it also produces fresh useful content.

  • This brings us to an important rule. Don't get drawn into this default trap. We all have a put-it-off list, things we know we have to do but absolutely dread.

    When you're short on inspiration, the last list you want to turn to is the dreaded to-do list. It might feel good for about 1 minute to get that thing off the list, but that's not an inspiration-builder. Save that list for a day when you've been at the top of your game. Reward your high performance day with a few well-earned checks.

  • If you're a list maker or note writer, write down all the reasons why you're feeling stuck. It won't be long before you uncover some valuable insights.

  • It's easy to feel like all of the effort we put into our days produces little in return. At the end of every day, set aside 5-10 minutes to write down what you accomplished that day. Skip the dreaded to-do list items. Focus on the meaningful work you did that moved your plan forward, that made a difference to a client, that gave you a personal moment of "Wow, I really did that."

  • Getting Started

  • Set aside some uninterrupted thinking time.
  • Grab a piece of paper and pen -- not a screen.
  • Make a list of the things that create that dopamine rush your brain needs to discover unexpected, fresh inspiration.
  • It's your private list so don't edit, judge, or fret over the right words. Just land on the valuable techniques that overcome your "I just don't feel like doing anything" moments.

  • It really does work.

    Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon is one of my short go-to books when I'm looking for some creativity insights.

    (We might earn a tiny sum from this link.)

    . . .

    Linda Rolf is a lifelong curious learner who believes a knowledge-first approach builds valuable client relationships.

    She is fueled by discovering the unexpected connections among technology, data, information, people and process. For more than four decades, Linda and Quest Technology Group have been their clients' trusted advisor and strategic partner.

    Linda believes that lasting value and trust are created through continuously listening, sharing knowledge freely, and delivering more than their clients even know they need.

    As the CIO of their first startup client said, "The value that Quest brings to Cotton States is far greater than the software they develop."

    Tags: Productivity

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