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My 5 Steps to Overcome a Creative Block

Design Productivity Student Life
We've all been there at one point in time. Whether it was a paper due and all you have is one line written down on the page or a deadline at work that has time crunching down and a solution you're not confident with. That feeling can make you want to throw in the towel, but the pressure to accomplish what you know you are capable of doing is what keeps you pushing through your creative block. So to all my driven readers who just need that extra motivation to get them through their block, I present 5 steps to help overcome your creative block.  

1. Take a 15-minute break

Sometimes you just need to step back and come back with fresh eyes and a new perspective. You've been staring at a blank page, empty canvas, pristine whiteboard, glaring computer screen or some other place to bring your ideas to life, and the emptiness can sometimes feel like all the weight in the world. How can your ideas come to life with all that weight bringing them down. Even though it may not seem like you have time to take that 15-minute break, do it anyways, your mind will thank you. I recommend during your break that you get far away from your workspace or at least to another room. Find a relaxing space to sit, de-stress and clear your mind. I also recommend staying off your phone. We've become so attached to our mobile devices that we don't realize that all the information that we process from our phones can sometimes lead to a block in creativity.

2. Write out a plan

You've come back from your break and you're ready to dive back in, but now you may have that overwhelming feeling of figuring out how to make up for lost time from your block. All the work that needs to be done start to pile back on, and it becomes overwhelming. This right here is where you need to take control and write out your "game plan". You can apply this to almost any group of tasks that need to get done. I'm a big sticky note person, so I use Mural, Miro or FigJam to collect my thoughts, but this can be done via a notes app or on a piece of paper.
  • For every task, talking point, content section, or project spec that needs to be covered write it down on its own sticky note.
  • Now that you have a bunch of sticky notes, its time to organize them. If you're tight on time, take your sticky notes and organize them based on priority starting with what needs to be done more urgently starting on the left and then proceed to place them in their task order.
  • If you've got some more time and maybe just don't know where to start, try organizing your stick notes based on the amount of time it will approximately take you to complete each task. Depending on your preference, you can go about this in two ways: Start with your most time-consuming tasks or start with easier tasks to complete. This either allows for you to conquer your biggest tasks first or build your confidence by celebrating the little accomplishments. 

3. Environment is key

Now that you have your game plan, its time to get things in motion. To allow for peak productivity, I recommend putting yourself in an environment free of distractions. Block out some focus time on your calendar and place your messaging platforms on mute. If you hate the quiet, put some music on that doesn't have lyrics to allow for your mind to freely think without catchy lyrics floating into your mind. Lastly, find a place to set up at that is comfortable but not too comfortable. You want to be attentive and working, so find a place to put your laptop or notebook on that's not your lap, a chair that is comfortable but also has you in a more engaging posture, and spray your favorite scent or light a candle to help create a pleasing aroma. 

4. Let your mind free

Clear mind, check. Game plan, check. Productive workspace, triple check! Now it's time to grab your first task and get to work. Don't be afraid to put down a "bad idea". Sometimes you need to get the those thoughts out to make room for more. Who knows, your "bad idea" may even turn out to be your best one yet once you've exhausted all your ideas and you circle back with new thoughts. There are may different methods to gather and organize your thoughts, such as word listing, mind mapping, concept thumbnails and so many others that will have to be a another post of its own, but find the one that works best for you and your task and then let your pencil, pen or keyboard free to document your thoughts. 

5. Try, fail, learn, improve

We've come to my favorite and last step of allowing your creativity to flow and that is: 
  • Don't be afraid to put your idea to the test.
  • If you fail that's okay, it's part of the process.
  • Learn from your failures and successes. 
  • There is always room for improvement. 
These may all seem like clichés, but every once in a while you may need to be reminded of them.  

"If At First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again"  -Zen Cho

Bonus Tip: A Dr. Pepper a Day Keeps Creative Block Away

To all my readers, it may be known to some that I have a mild Dr. Pepper addiction. Some may drink coffee, teas, or just water, but my creative driving force is Dr. Pepper. So if you ever need a pick me up, try giving Dr. Pepper a try, it may just become your creative source too. 

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