You’re a business owner and you’ve got work to do. Business proposals to write, marketing material to draft, brainstorming, strategizing, the list goes on.
To get anything done at all, you need to be creative, but you feel like your brain’s on vacation. You’re tapped out, you’re tired, and, as they say, you’ve got nothing.
It might be because you’re running on empty. You might just be feeling uninspired. Whatever the reason, you need to dig deep and get ‘er done. But how do you get your creative juices flowing when there’s no juice and definitely no flow?
We’ve developed a foolproof plan to jumpstart your creativity. It’s just three steps, time-tested, and creative-thinker-approved.
Step 1: Stop what you’re doing.
It may feel counterintuitive, but the very best thing you can do when you’ve come to a dead halt is to stop and do something else. When your brainpower’s not powering up, there’s no point in staring at a blank screen and blinking cursor. Stop and you’ll come back to it.
Step 2: Then choose one (or more) of the following:
Get some fresh air.
As mom used to tell you, go outside! Psychologists agree that the great outdoors—even in an urban jungle or lackluster suburb—has proven benefits when it comes to stimulating creativity. One study found that a simple hike can increase creativity up to 50%. (Another discovered that just looking at photos of nature amps up creative thinking!) Don’t worry if you can’t make it to a forest or even a tree-lined street. Just the open sky can boost inspiration.
Change your scenery.
If you work from home you already know that, ironically, working somewhere else really helps get your brain moving. Studies have actually shown that working at coffee shops is great for creativity. Changing your scenery doesn’t have to mean working somewhere else. Go run an errand or two. Grab a bite to eat. Get away from that dreaded blinking cursor and exit the four walls currently surrounding you.
Get your blood pumping.
It’s well-known among creative types that exercise can really get those creative juices flowing. That’s because exercise literally changes your brain to improve your thinking. It flushes out stress-induced cortisol, increases feel-good endorphins, and speeds the growth of new nerve cells and synapses. If that’s not enough for you, it also boosts oxygen in your bloodstream, which is literally food for thought. And you don’t have to be a runner or weightlifter to get all the benefits. Just walking makes a big difference.
Take a rest.
Another counterintuitive suggestion? Take a breather! Working nonstop doesn’t do you any favors when it comes to creative thinking. In fact, research proves that some of our most creative ideas come in “idle moments.” Studies have also discovered that those eureka moments don’t appear on demand. They pop up when we’re doing something else. In other words, let your subconscious chew the fat. Go for a walk. Listen to music. Hang out with a friend. Watch a movie. Give your mind a chance to rest, wander, and let the magic happen.
While we’re talking about taking a rest and letting the magic happen, we need to discuss your phone addiction. Or maybe it’s the news. Maybe it’s being glued to your computer. Whatever it is, put it down, step away, and/or turn it off. Entrepreneurs tend to be information junkies. But you can’t be creative if your brain’s being bombarded with headlines, Instagram stories, and your friends’ vacation pics. Unplugging is great for lots of work-related things, including creativity. So give it a chance. The texts can wait and so can the voicemails. (And those vacation pics will still be there when you plug back in.)
Work on something else.
Sometimes there’s just no time for a rest. In those instances, take a step back and work on something else. That may mean a less creative project, even some administrative tasks. It could be putting on a pot of chili for dinner. Research shows that multitasking, done correctly, is actually good for creativity. So if you’re juggling multiple deadlines, keep a few different windows open and jump between tasks. You’ll be surprised how just a few minutes away from a project can boost creativity in another.
Check something off your to-do list.
There’s nothing like the feeling of checking off an item on your to-do list. It’s such a good feeling, it can actually get you on the path to doing more challenging tasks. If a creative undertaking is on your to-do list, instead of letting it overwhelm you, check something else off first. Even if it’s just sending an invoice or writing an email. The burst you’ll get may be enough to get you truckin’ on down that creative road.
Step 3: Get back to it!
Congratulations! You’re pumped up and ready to jump back in. Good luck and may the creative force be with you!