My ten ways how I like to boost my creative side generate new ideas. My approach to stop procrastination and how I keep my focus to be productive. What do I do when I feel overwhelmed, uninspired and have a creative block?
Since some of you have asked me about my creative process and if I always have new ideas, then I thought that I’m going to share some of my methods. The truth is that I’m still a human. Whenever I work on some project, there are some stages when I feel like I don’t want to do anything. Even when I love what I’m doing, then there are always things I prefer not to do. Mostly it means bookkeeping and cleaning. However, I have to do them. I CAN’T start working and think clearly when my kitchen or table is a BIG MESS. Once I’m in the zone, then obviously it’s a little bit different. No need to complain here. I’m the one who creates that mess. 😅 When I feel overwhelmed, then I always feel like I’m not that as creative as I suppose to be. Doesn’t matter if it’s photography, recipes or writing. I feel like it works for all the work.
When I feel overwhelmed, then I usually tell myself to relax. I know that when I’m working with those feelings, then I’m not productive. A little “break” gives me new energy, and I’m more productive than ever. Otherwise, I think that I’m working, but instead, I just get lost on the Internet or start procrastinating. So, I need to clear mind to get back my focus and energy. Still, it doesn’t mean that I make short breaks all the time. I try not to get “soft”.
Here are my 10 tips what I like to use when I feel like I need to boost my creative side. Obviously, everybody is different, and it might not work for all of us. I believe that everyone has to find what works for them and I can only tell you what works for me.
- Make a routine
The first steps are the hardest? Yes, I understand the feeling when I have to open the new document and just start. It doesn’t matter if it’s waking up early in the morning or going for a run. I have to do it. The more I start to think about the worst it gets. I will always find some excuse not to do it. Usually, when that happens, I like to tell myself STOP THINKING. 😅 Just do it.
When all my efforts to stop thinking doesn’t work, then I try to use my other technique. For example, when I stare at the screen or fridge for 5 minutes, and I can’t write a word or think, what I’m going to cook next, then I just stop. I take a 15-30 minutes break. Usually, I like to do something active because it usually clears my mind.
The best part is that while I do my workout out, my MIND KEEPS WORKING. Quite often I find the answers while I have my “break.” Also, the idea is to develop some kind of routine for the body. It’s almost like a bedtime routine for kids (or myself).
- Get inspired!
I can spend endless hours looking at amazing images on Pinterest or Instagram to gather some inspiration. There are just so many ideas for food styling that I have to explore. Sometimes I see a little detail on the image that helps you with another good idea. However, it’s quite dangerous at the same time because I might start COPYING others. I also like to look at how chefs are plating the food in the restaurant. They always seem to know the best tricks. When I have spent some time on the Internet, then I tell myself to stop staring and try to get my ideas.
- Have a digital detox
I love to have a digital detox to boost my creative side. We live in a time when it’s quite easy to feel overwhelmed with information. Especially, when your work is online, and you almost always look at your screen. It might be hard to concentrate or get new creative ideas. You might start comparing yourself to others and feel bad. Sometimes I might think that everything has already been photographed and there isn’t a point for you to do that. However, I like to tell myself that there’s always something. I just have to find it.
When I feel uninspired and overwhelmed, then I like to put all the electronics away and “relax” (it’s quite hard for me to stay in one place). I usually do something active. Usually, MY MIND IS TIRED, NOT MY BODY! I go for a run, do some yoga or play some tennis. Sometimes I like to read something inspiring or go to the nature to clear my mind. Spending some quality time with my family and friends is an important part. No phones and other electronics. Quite often when I’m in the ‘relax mode’ without electronics, I have so many ideas what I should cook or shoot next. After this kind of digital detox, I’m usually more productive than ever. I have more creative ideas and I get things done.
That digital detox always brings me to exercise. I believe that mind and body have to work together. When one part loses itself, then the other one goes out of balance as well. That’s why working out is a big part of my life.
When I have some kind of stressful time, then I like to workout even more. For example, when I had all my exams while I was still studying in Uni, then I did something active almost every day. No, it doesn’t mean that it will do a hardcore exercise every day. It means just a little walk or easy yoga stretching to clear my mind. Usually, I do a “real” work out about 5-6 times a week. Sometimes it’s only 15-minutes stair sprints and 15- minutes HIIT workout. Other times I play some tennis, do some yoga or go for a run.
Nature is my kind of therapy. I have been going to the forest to pick berries or mushrooms since I was a little girl. (Yes, I went alone to the forest with my dog when I was seven years old, and nothing bad happened. Almost. Once I got lost, but the dog showed me a way out! 😅 Otherwise, all the forest near my country house is still familiar to me). It’s my kind of time to think through where I’m going, and I usually get back my focus. Also, I have always loved gardening and gathering some inspiration straight from nature.
- Few days off (or more) and family time
Usually, I don’t need that much time off. However, once I finished my master’s degree and at the same time worked on my photography work for clients and the blog, then I felt that I might be a little bit tired (I usually ignore all the signs, I know it’s not a great idea). So, I had a short 10-day break in the summer and went traveling. After that, I felt that my energy is back and my mind was clear.
Sleep is one of the essential things in my life. I’m lucky that so far I have been sleeping like a baby almost all my life. I usually don’t have trouble with that part. I sleep so deeply that it’s nearly impossible to wake me. Maybe when you call my name and shake the bed, then it’s possible.
Anyways, I believe that sleep is essential to our brain (a few years ago I did quite a lot of research on that topic. For example, a great book that I read about the brain that mentions sleep was Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School by John Medina). The best part is that even when we sleep, then our MIND KEEPS WORKING and sometimes finds the solutions that we are looking for. It organizes our thoughts and makes connections. Why else some people wake up in the middle of the night with a new good idea. (I’m sure you all know that).
When someone tells me to sleep less to get all the work done, then I IGNORE that. I’m sorry. I have tried, and it didn’t work. The reality for me is that when I have a quality of sleep (7-8 hours), then I’m more productive and I can do work quickly, and I have my focus. Sometimes I try to sleep even more at the weekends but usually, I still wake up early because my body is used to that. I can sleep less than 5-6 hours, but this kind of sleeping pattern works only for a short period (at least for me). Once I don’t sleep enough, then I’m just slow and not as productive as I need to be. I believe that that the question is rather what I do when I’m awake not about sleeping.
It’s a simple but still powerful way to boost my creative side. Some music moves some parts of the brain for creative thinking. When I need to focus, then I even like to hear nature sounds on Spotify. I know that sounds weird but sometimes bird or rain sounds help me focus for a longer period.
- The power of water
I’m always amazed, how much good a glass of water, a quick shower or a long bath can do. It gives me that something to clear my mind and get back my focus when I have been sitting in front of the screen for too long.
- Take a long breath
That’s one of the things that I always like to practice. When I feel like something isn’t going the way I would love to, then I like to take a long breath or even three. It helps me to get back my focus on try again.