For many of us creativity is our meal ticket, yet many of our daily activities work to stifle that creativity. Undo amounts of stress, procrastination, anxiety, multitasking and generally just not having enough time all make it harder to think creatively. Luckily, there are ways to get our creativity back.
Just like you never forget how to ride a bike, you never stop being able to be creative, you just fall out of practice. Your creativity never goes away, it just likes to hide sometimes. And the activities below are pretty effective at diminishing your creativity by occupying your mind with frivolous thoughts or making you procrastinate. The more you can remove them from your life the more creative you will be.
Video Games & Television
The great time wasters. Television and video games are the worst two offenders. We all love to be entertained but every moment you spend at these two activities is time spent with your brain occupied. They let you escape from your responsibilities and troubles for a brief time but those troubles only get bigger the longer you put them off. There are a number of reasons to drop these two activities from your life but stifling creativity is a good enough reason for this post.
Social Media, Email and Web Surfing
On there own they are not as bad as television and video games but because they are always one click away, they can be a real problem. As a web designer I am especially guilty of tabbing over to by browser and checking out a CSS Gallery or two when I don’t know how to approach a design. And once you get your mind on other things it becomes hard to focus once more. Multitasking is only good at accomplishing several things at the same time, poorly.
I also recommend closing your email and web browser when you are trying to work because it takes time to get into the right mental state to be productive. If you are constantly switching back to other tasks, you never get to that point where work comes easy.
These two activities are bad on their own but they also help cause other issues that can lead to hurting your creativity, namely anxiety and stress due to from procrastination.
Stress & Anxiety
The stress of deadlines, coming up with a great idea, or other external factors can have a negative effect on your creativity. The more you reduce uncreative activities in your life and begin projects as early as possible, the less stress and anxiety will effect you, and the better your work will be. But some stressful situations are unavoidable.
In the same way that stress and anxiety can hurt your creativity, having too much time on your hands is also not good for creativity. You need to be able to stay engaged at a task.
Never try to start from scratch. A blank canvas, whether it is a fresh photoshop file, a white piece of paper, or brick of clay, is only going to put doubt into your mind. Don’t worry about where to start, just start. Write a list of ideas, jot down whatever pops into your head, don’t worry if it will be a success or not, just get something, anything going. Even bad ideas and mistakes can turn into something positive if you let them, but a blank canvas will always only be a blank canvas.
Getting Your Creativity Back
Even if you don’t consider yourself a very creative person, there are plenty of ways to foster creativity.
Working with Your Hands
There is nothing like getting your right brain active to reduce the noise, doubt and distraction we deal with every day. There are so many ways to do it and it can be as little as a half hour a day, to get yourself in a good state to think creatively.
Just some of the many activities that stimulate the right side of the brain: creating jewelry, crafts, sculpting, sewing, woodworking, knitting, painting, sketching, or even tend your own zen garden.
A little more reading about getting in the zone Finding Flow
Sketch and Write Lists
Get in the habit of writing your good ideas down or sketching them out. When you are having trouble sometimes looking over your notes might spark something for you, and if not at least it can show that you are creative and you have plenty of good ideas. Sometimes just reaffirming that in your mind is enough to get you started again.
If you are being productive don’t interrupt yourself with email or a television break. If you need to stop working for a bit, get something to eat, go for a walk but don’t bring all your mental baggage back on your mind.
Another way to increase your creativity is to simply surround yourself with positive and creative people. If you work in an environment where everyone is stressed all the time that will eventually rub off on you. Other general things to help are maintaining a healthy lifestyle and getting plenty of fresh air and sunlight.
Make being creative a part of your lifestyle and reduce the activities that cause stress or distract you from your creative pursuits.