When you work in a creative industry, there’s an expectation that your creativity switch is always set to “on.” But ask any designer, and they’ll tell you just how untrue that is. Working on client projects all day, everyday is the dream, but the constant work-flow can make it difficult to keep the creative juices flowing. Plus, by the time you go through multiple rounds of client feedback, it can seem like all of the creativity set aside for a project was zapped.
What’s more is that creativity blocks don’t just stop at the office. When you’re a fully loaded designer exercising your creativity all day, that can drain your brain before you even get home for the night. By the time you crank on all of your billable work, having creativity left to focus on your own side passions can also be challenging. The calligraphy you’ve been meaning to learn, the photos you’ve been meaning to edit, the website you’ve wanted to build—all those extra passions just fall by the wayside.
Trying different creative strategies is an effective way for relieving the pain points described above. “When you mix things up, you’ll see the lay of the land with fresh eyes and new inspiration. ”To keep your creative game strong, try following these tips!
Opt for the project that’s way outside your comfort zone
You know what you’re good at, and your colleagues know what you’re good at. So it’s likely that you’ll be placed on projects that are a natural fit for you. But in order to not burn out, purposely take on a project that is outside your norm—even if that means asking to be placed on another team or work in a different department during that time. When you’re forced to look at something with a more discerning, critical, analytical eye, the end result is actually the ability to exercise creativity in a fresh, new way.
What happens if your company doesn’t have a paid project available that would help propel you outside your comfort zone? Well, you can (and should) create your own. Spend some time on combing blogs or videos to see what creative skills are trending. Or identify a skillset that may be considered an asset to your company. For instance, if you became a skilled photographer, you could offer to shoot original pictures which could help offset the cost of having to always have a stock photo subscription or hire an outside photographer.
Make an account on Medium
Medium is a website that curates content from all types of people on every different topic. Some posts are long, some are short, some are serious, some are satirical. Not only can reading another person’s work bring creativity and inspiration to you, but so can writing something yourself. Not a writer? Not a problem. But there’s still value in taking 15–30 minutes and writing at least 250 words on any random topic. And that value is letting your brain wander and switch gears for a brief moment; to re-wire itself. And when you’re done saying what you want to say, if you don’t think it’s worthy of publishing, just save it as a draft and refer back to it on your own, in your own time.
Not sure where to start? These accounts would be awesome for any designer to follow:
- Brian Chesky: Co-founder & CEO of Airbnb
- Gary Vaynerchuk (aka GaryVee): Public speaker
- Muzli: Design inspiration
- Personal Growth: A blog about life’s greatest lessons
- Product Hunt: An on-going recap of the best products and apps
Consider your diet
For some people, a glass of wine may help shake out creative thoughts. For others, the key might be a little jolt from a cup of coffee or a piping hot latte. And still for others, it may be the energy they get from an uber-healthy meal of fresh fruits and veggies. No matter what your preference is, these edible items can all play into the functionality of your brain, and thus, your creativity. So give your diet a once-over to figure out what, if anything, should be switched up.
Put some background noise on
Whether it’s a news channel, a podcast, or a Spotify playlist, having something on in the background not only provides some ambient noise, but can also help kick up creative thoughts. Maybe it’s a lyric you hear or a report that comes on or just the way a story is being told, but if these things have a chance to make it into your brain for consideration, there’s a good chance they’ll come out as creative expression, whether you realize it or not.
It’s a fundamental truth that there is no end to creativity, even though it can sometimes feel like it on a personal level. So the next time you feel dried up in that department, consider one of the items above. What other tips do you have for hitting the creative reset button?