We’ve all been there. It’s 3 PM, you’re trying to come up with the latest and greatest project that is going to revolutionize the company, get you that promotion you’ve been eyeing for the last 18 months and land you a star on the Hollywood walk of fame. OK, maybe not the last part, but it’s still a very important project. The problem is, you’ve been staring at a lame, blank PowerPoint slide for the last 90 minutes. The intent is there, but the content is simply not flowing.
So, how do we reignite that creative fire? Here are a few tips to get your brain working again:
1. Interact with Others/Social Writing
People inspire people. Fact. If that wasn’t true, we wouldn’t have some of our greatest literary works, favorite movies and I guarantee you the Beatles would have never written “Hey Jude”.
Even having simple interactions with colleagues can jump-start the brain. Professor Rowena Murray of the University of West of Scotland says:
As with other academic activities, interacting with others about ideas and plans is valuable.
Social writing involves writing with others – not collaborative writing, but writing with others in the room. Writing with others, talking about writing-in-progress and sharing writing goals and achievements helps us to understand writing better. Social writing generates realistic goal-setting and dedicated writing time.
It also makes writing part of work and life. It is no longer something we only do in solitude. Discussing writing is interesting. Social writing reduces the main cause of writer’s block – anxiety – and stimulates writing. With social writing, there may be no need for help or instruction after all.
Now you no longer have to put yourself in solitary confinement to be productive and creative.
2. Take a Walk
This benefits you on many levels. It reduces stress, burns calories and gets the blood pumping. Also, as you’re walking around, the sights and distractions will trigger the subconscious mind.
Before you head out on your walk, make sure you bring a pen and a notepad or a recorder to capture any ideas that emerge. You don’t want to stress yourself out from trying to remember things while you’re out walking. Also, if you don’t want to leave the office, you could always take a walk on one of these:
Disconnect from the Internet
Ah, the Internet. It has given us so many wonderful things such as the world’s largest collection of cat pictures, a forum for your neighbors to let everyone know what they would do “if they were President”, and the ability to trick people into watching Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” simply by getting the unsuspecting audience to click a link.
Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
The internet can also be a great place to fire-up those creative neurons in your brain, but for many it is the tool of procrastination and distraction. It fuels what Natalie Goldberg, author of “Writing Down the Bones”, calls “monkey mind”. It’s the mindset of choosing to check/update your social channels (or any distraction for that matter) rather than work on your project.
Resist the temptation to be distracted by removing the distraction altogether. Unplug your Ethernet cable, turn off your WiFi, or perhaps step away from the computer and use some old-school pens and paper. Once you feel like you’ve got a decent chunk of work done, then reward yourself by taking some time to go back online.
Work from a New Location in the Office
In a similar sense to taking a walk, simply picking-up your laptop and moving to another part of the office can have a positive effect on both your creativity and productivity. As more offices become open-plan this has made it easier for workers to take a nomadic approach to their day. Also, workplace cafeterias are becoming collaborative zones as well as a place workers can use when they need to focus on the task at hand but still be within a reasonable distance of their colleagues.
Obviously, offices come in different shapes and sizes (and strictness of bosses) so you may not have the luxury of working in the cafe, but you can do things like moving your desk or sitting at the other side of the desk to face a window, or perhaps you could swap desks with a colleague for an hour. Failing that, you could always come and hang out in our showroom where you will definitely find inspiration. Especially if you try out our new Brody lounges.