There are times when our brains are firing on all cylinders. Then, there are periods when our eyes glaze over and no two thoughts want to connect. So how can we squeeze the most out of our minds? Here are a few tips to help you improve creative output:
Note your rhythms
Try keeping a creativity journal. When new ideas strike write them down, but also be sure to note the time of day and any other pertinent information. Do you wake up with fingers itching for a keyboard, or do you do your best work after sunset? Track your most productive hours in the work week and look for patterns. Did your creative surge come 15 minutes after a midday snack, or after a short nap? Experiment with diet, exercise and purposeful rest and note the impact on your production.
Mind your mood
Guarding your readiness to engage is important so you can hit the ground running and maximize creative output. Schedule your workday around those times when you feel most energized for the tasks ahead. Make your creative time the priority, and stay in the mood by keeping on task. Don’t allow mundane work to steal your motivation. Tackle what you love while you’re still excited. Then, give your leftover time to the boring minutia.
If you have a day job, or you have a spouse and children, you’re going to need to prioritize your responsibilities. Maybe you can’t have five full days of optimized creative time, but what about one? Let others know you value your creativity and they’ll help make it a priority too. Enlist help from your spouse and children in arranging the family schedule to include time for you to work during your peak hours. And be your own advocate. Don’t allow yourself to downplay the importance of your work time. If Saturday morning is your only free time, don’t stay out too late after work with your office buddies on Friday night, or let your best friend talk you into an impromptu brunch. Treat your creative time as a standing appointment. You wouldn’t back out at the last minute on a commitment to anyone, don’t do it to yourself. Make a schedule and stick to it.
The creative process, while often enjoyable, can be demanding. Be sure to schedule accordingly. Some time away may be just what is required to cross the finish line, and that’s okay. Whether you take a long break or a short one, remember that a resting mind is still creative, and the work of refueling your soul can be just a vital as the energy you expend creating.
Many times art is a way of processing. If you run out of inspiration it may mean you need new experiences. Reconnect to the world at large and open yourself to new opportunities. Enjoy life in the big and small things.
A nature hike, or a trip to the art museum are often great ways to spend time “off”. But you don’t necessarily need to leave home. If you enjoy a hot cup of tea, consider a personal tea ceremony. Play a musical instrument, cross-stitch, play a video game, watch a comedy skit. Or, if you’re so inclined, clean and organize something.
You might try to build “refueling stations” into your workspace. Find a way to give yourself easy access to quick actives you can enjoy without having to leave your seat. One idea is to clear a corner of your desk for art supplies and carve out a 15 minute drawing session in your work day. If you’re no good at drawing, you can google creative coloring pages for adults and discover a wealth of printable resources to enjoy.
Divide a large project into sections and predetermine rewards for yourself for completing each one. Your rewards don’t have to be grand ones, just things that will help move you forward. Hold off cooking your favorite meal until you’ve reached your goal or buy yourself a pint of ice-cream. Heck, go for a massage. You can keep it simple or go big, the choice is yours. Only be sure to look back at how far you’ve come and celebrate each accomplishment.
Do you have any tips for increasing creativity? Please share.
Jen Sloniger has a penchant for characters who make bold moves—some in search of truth, others running hard in the opposite direction. Jen lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her multi-ethnic family built through birth and international adoption. She can often be found typing one-handed with a baby on her lap, while her hero husband ensures the safety of their six other children. To learn more, visit Jen’s web site.