You’ve got nothing. You are staring at a blank screen, waiting for inspiration to magically arrive and provide you with all the solutions and ideas you need. In the back of your mind, you’re overtly aware of the deadline looming… but you’re stuck.
Does this sound familiar? Even though we love being engaged in creative work, there are moments when we feel like all our ideas have dried up. We know from many studies that creativity and innovation are the top, strategic priorities for organizations, that creativity is a part of everyone’s day job, and that creative teams perform better. So what can you do to bring back the creative spark? These tips will help you relax and tap back into your creative genius.
1. Take a deep breath and unplug.
Stress is a known creativity-killer. Great creative work doesn’t come from cortisol, so do yourself a favor and take a moment to breathe. Whether you prefer to engage in a quick stretching session to keep your blood moving or move through some breathing exercises (try these), this is a vital first step in getting on track.
2. Change your surroundings.
Creativity, by definition, is all about being different. What better way to jump start your creativity than to switch up the scenery? Even small changes like a different kind of coffee or rearranging the items on your desk can be enough to stop the traffic jam in your brain. Seth Godin says, “Doing what you’ve been doing is going to get you what you’ve been getting.” Whatever your routine is, make a conscious effort to change it up. Drive a different route. Take the stairs. Say hi to someone new.
3. Don’t take your ideas for granted.
Inspiration can strike at any moment! Do you know the cliché that says you always get your best ideas while you’re in the shower? There’s a reason for that. Our brain is processing information and solving problems even when we aren’t aware of it. So it’s often when we are doing something else and in a relaxed state – like sleeping or taking a shower – that inspiration arrives. Take notice of this when it happens and carry a notebook or your phone so you don’t forget it.
4. Cultivate your curiosity.
Sue Langley, a leading global business consultant and adviser, said in an interview, “When we’re younger, being curious about what’s possible, testing different ideas and trying things came naturally. But as we become older, our ability to be creative can become narrowed as we lose our curiosity and rely more on our experience of what we’ve previously heard.” Because of this, unleashing your creativity may have a lot to do with carefully cultivating your curiosity. What questions haven’t you asked? What rabbit trails haven’t you explored? With all the things that we know in our professional lives, sometimes we don’t stop to realize all the things we don’t know. Start your day inquisitively.
You don’t have to do it all alone. Something magical happens when you present your ideas – or lack thereof – to other human beings. Your coworkers all have different personalities, experiences, and specialties, and this is perfect for getting you out of your rut and devising solutions.
6. Apply old solutions to new problems.
It’s likely that you’re very familiar with the best practices and general functioning of your own industry. But if you’re stuck, there’s a lot to learn from the workings of other industries. What do other fields do well that you could replicate and learn from? Take a look at the processes in healthcare, education, technology, the service industry – anything drastically different from your own knowledge-base and see what solutions stand out to.
What might you be able to achieve by unleashing more creativity? Give it a try.