Did your va-va lose its voom? Your edge its steely sharpness? Boomerang not coming back? Mojo not working its magic?
Chances are you're suffering from the age-old disease of "stuck." People feel their best when their focus and productivity are freely flowing. But when you're stuck, you're probably not feeling so great.
First frustration sets in and maybe even a bit of fear. No one wants to be in a place of listlessness and lagging energy. You're uninspired and it shows. And if you're an entrepreneur, you can't do that for long periods and expect your business to grow. How can you get out of this place?
First, remember it's all about thought. Change your thoughts and you'll change your status from stuck to creative, productive and in the flow. You were there yesterday. You will be there again tomorrow. You're the same person.
Creative flow happens in the space between too little stimulus and too much. Creativity requires a certain amount of stress and structure, a reality base. But too much stress, too much pressure, is overwhelming.
Here are 10 things to do to help you get back into your creative space:
1. Recognize that creativity is cyclical.
Creative people work with intense energy and focus, but then step back for nurturing time. Perhaps you're not stuck, just at rest. Use that. When you rest--truly rest. Don't fill your time with purposeless activity just because you're anxious about your productivity.
2. Learn to journal.
Whether you're stuck or creative, resting or active, make a commitment to journal every day. Fifteen minutes each morning or during your most productive time of day. Journaling helps identify things that block you as well as what excites and stimulates you. Creativity doesn't appear out of nowhere--journaling provides an avenue of discovery. Use word prompts for your journaling, keep them on little slips of paper in a box, and take one out each morning and write or draw for the entire 15 minutes. Don't worry about quality or consistency. Don't worry about completing thoughts. This is just for you.
3. Be prepared when creativity strikes.
Carry a paper and pen with you at all times, or use your phone to record messages to yourself. Record your ideas throughout the day. Record your dreams. It is an adjunct to your structured journal time and is as much of a resource as your handwritten (or typed) notes.
4. Identify your creative triggers.
If you're struggling to find inspiration, learn from your journaling what things excite you. Schedule time to read in that area or take a class or find groups who share your interest. Perhaps your passion is more physical than mental. Perhaps it's not directly related to your work. Make time to pursue it.
5. Structure your workflow.
Jim Benson writes of the power of personal Kanban, a technique for visualizing workflow so you can manage it. Visualization is a concrete process; perhaps use sticky notes on a whiteboard flowchart with categories: goals, projects, backlog, learning/improvement, this week, today and done. The visual aspect allows conscious decision-making about priorities. Various software products can assist this kind of process, too. Even a simple list helps by allowing you to see what is on your plate, to prioritize and to check off completed tasks. Making lists frees your mind and your energy, which allows you to focus.
6. Evaluate and purge nonessentials.
If you have goals in front of you every day, you can evaluate each activity against them. If an activity is sucking time and energy, accomplishing little toward your goals, get rid of it.
7. Narrow your vision.
Too many stimuli can block creativity, flood your brain and sap your energy.
8. Break it down.
Turn your big projects into smaller, more manageable projects. This is the art of turning a mountain into a molehill, then turning the molehill into the most incredibly creative and productive molehill ever.1
9. Make the best of limitations.
Creative people use the resources at hand because it can inspire more creativity. Write down the things you see as limitations, personal as well as external blocks. Write each limitation on a separate slip of paper and put them into your prompt box. Journal about these limitations and focus on how you can use them creatively.
10. Celebrate the accomplishments.
Marking completed tasks might be as simple as a note in your journal or calendar, naming the task or project and writing "Done." Or maybe it merits a celebration. For some, completing a significant task and moving on involves a feeling of loss or sadness. Marking the occasion gives you the chance to celebrate your accomplishment.