Don’t tell my clients, but my best ideas rarely emerge inside my home office walls. Don’t get me wrong, I work in a pleasant room with very few outside distractions. However, I sometimes need a change of environment, a mindless distraction, or even a different work schedule to get the creative juices flowing again — for example, when I need to dream up a new tagline or write new web content or product messaging. And to make matters worse, it’s usually when I’m smack up against a deadline and cannot afford to waste a moment of my typical 8-to-5 working time when I’m most creatively challenged.
The good news is that over the years I’ve noticed a pattern to when and where my big ideas hit. And most important, I’ve learned not to panic when my creativity isn’t churning. Instead, I force myself to get out of the office and give my brain a break. With time and patience, this change of pace will often move the eureka moment from the back of my mind to the front.
5 boosters to recharge your creativity
- Physical activity: A good workout releases my work stress unlike anything else. Take a 45-minute exercise break, preferably a walk, run, or other type of cardiac workout that is repetitive in its motion and doesn’t require too much thought or serious coordination. At mile two, mood-raising endorphins are released and the mind will surely ooze some serious creative juices.
- Cleaning tasks: Similar to physical activity, most cleaning chores (dusting, vacuuming, scrubbing, etc.) are repetitive in nature so it’s easy to let the mind drift off in its own direction and let creativity flow right in. Plus, you get the extra benefit of a clean house! My only caveat is to limit your cleaning time to an hour or less. Otherwise, you’ll never get back on task.
- Other creative outlets: Take a short break and turn to one of your own creative passions — scrapbooking, playing a musical instrument, doodling, photography, baking, etc. But don’t focus on the end result. We’re not after a masterpiece here, but rather the process of expressing your creativity. It’s likely you’ll be able to now refocus this creative mindset to your work project.
- Worship services: I’m embarrassed to admit this one, but I’ve had some serious creative moments at church. Whether it is divine intervention or prayer of the saints, the ideas just flow like a river. Be sure to have a pen and paper (bulletin) handy to jot everything down.
- Work time shifting: This option might might not work for everyone. But if your work schedule is flexible or if you’re self employed, start your day early or late. Split your workday with a longer break in the middle. Or, make a weekday your weekend, if necessary. On occasion, I need to shake up my weekday routine in order to get a creative breakthrough. Remember, the best ideas may percolate at 2 AM or on a Sunday afternoon, so don’t force them to an 8-to-5, Monday through Friday schedule.