How to get out of a creative rut

Pablo Stanley’s talk at the Awwwards Conference, Toronto 2023

As a creative (and a human living in a looming recession, tech layoffs, impending global apocalypse etc), it is common to have moments where your ideas are not as plentiful as usual.

Have you ever wanted to start something, but had no idea what? Have you ever felt a project was stagnating, and you have no idea where to take it next (or if you should just end it all together)?

Over time, I have learned a few tactics to help my brain stay fresh. Not only do I fall into these lulls less often now, but I am better able to pull myself out when they do arise.

  1. Be proactive with scheduling fun: as a lover of art, design, fashion and fitness, I proactively schedule in activities relating to these interests. I do this before I start to feel like I’m in a creative rut. A weird new fitness class? Upcoming design conference? Sticking within your financial means goes without saying, but I’ve found proactively trying new things helps MASSIVELY in generating new ideas I wouldn’t have had sitting at home alone watching Netflix — as needed as those days sometimes are.
  2. Reach out to your community (or create one): feeling bored of the same fonts being used across all platforms? Not sure where to turn with your design or your career? I’ve had these moments before, and what really helps me is engaging with people in my field. I love to do this through the Women in Tech book club I created via The Stack World. It’s a group of tech women who not only encourage each other to read, but we also bond over shared similar experiences and diverse perspectives. If you don’t have a community like this, START one. You can check out The Stack HERE.
  3. Reduce clutter (digitally and physically): it may sound obvious but CLEANING and having that less but better mindset helps my brain feel lighter and like I can better organize my thoughts and my schedule. Delete apps you don’t need and put the ones you do in folders, reorganize your google drive, clean out your closet etc. This may seem unrelated to your creative endeavours, but it truly is not — your space is where you create your work, and it’s where you go to rest. If your space is in chaos, how can you expect yourself to design anything?
  4. Take a break & go outside: if I spend too much of my workday indoors, I find that my brain starts to go numb. To do my best work, I find that I need to eat my lunch outdoors and move. Exercise helps, but fresh air (without headphones) is a great way to clear the head.
  5. No wifi: Similar to the above, but this time leave your phone at home or put it on airplane mode. When I’m on the airplane or in the shower I always have my best ideas. The online world can bombard us with information, and being offline gives us time to process this cool content and make something new.

This week…

I challenge you to try one of these new ideas! Let’s continue the conversation on LinkedIn 👋

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