It’s been harder and harder to stay creative while working from home without being distracted. However, there are multiple ways to kickstart the creativity within you. Sometimes, you just need to start doing it, get inspiration from other people and various content, change your workspace, or just take a rest and try again tomorrow.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, most aspects of our lives transitioned to being restricted in our homes—from studying to work. As such, the things we used to do to gain inspiration and motivation are much harder to do. Our creative flow is then harder to come by.
This is definitely not easy. We all know creativity and the best work we can do is not forced. More than that, it is harder to form new habits to replace the counterproductive habits we have formed while working at home.
To help with that, here are some practical and doable steps you could take in getting your creative mind working.
Start with your first idea.
Entirely focusing on how much work we have to complete might cause us to become stressed and even lose perspective on our own thoughts. To do this, start first with one, sole idea. Then, write it down and let your mind get into a glow. Just write them down however you like and they do not have to make sense to anybody else.
Allowing your creative juices to flow while also forcing you to put your thoughts into written words can assist you to write in a more free-form approach. More than that, when we write the first idea that comes to mind, we avoid taking more time by staring at a blank page. It’s better to have a first bad idea & improve than to have nothing & still hesitate. And who knows, you might come up with something big by doing this!
Take a break.
Contrary to what most might think, breaks are still productive. Have you ever noticed that your greatest ideas come to you at some spontaneous moments, such as in the vehicle or in the shower? This is because these breaks allow your mind to continue working on ideas without being caught in a rut where you can't arrange your thoughts.
For instance, the CEO and co-founder of HubSpot, Brian Halligan highly promotes taking naps at work. As he discovered, the best ideas often come to him upon waking up or just before he falls asleep.
Have a conversation with someone.
While this is common in workplaces before, it is much more important now when we’re working remotely. Creativity does not only come from within, sometimes we find it in others. Not only is it beneficial for our creativity but surrounding yourself with individuals with whom you can bounce off ideas and receive feedback is also great for your career and profession. Being exposed to different perspectives can provide us new insights into something you have only been blankly staring at on your computer screen.
Aside from chat rooms with your co-workers, you can also engage in various online communities such as on social media, Linkedin groups, and even Discord. You can also try taking the time to talk with friends, families, and even kids at home. Surely, this can spark an “aha!” moment.
Change room or space.
Sometimes all you need is a change of scenery. A study by Learning Spaces Collaboratory has shown that a change of setting positively influences the production of new ideas.
If changing rooms or spaces within the home is not possible, another strategy to promote creativity, getting out of your home to take short breaks is another way to foster creativity. Various platforms now make it simple to rent out workspaces temporarily and brainstorming while taking a walk outside can be an effective method to encourage a free flow of ideas.
Listen to music/podcasts.
Music can support you in concentrating on whatever activity you're working on. It can also improve your mood and help to soothe feelings of anxiety.
Some types of music could help in channeling your creativity and tune out the background noise and distractions better than others. Ambient music, on the other hand, can aid in enhancing processing levels and foster creative thinking whereas music with drastic shifts in speed or lyrics can be distracting. Podcasts then, especially relevant to one’s work can be best listened to and gained inspiration from when taking breaks or with a clear mind. This leads us to the next tip.
Clear anything that’s distracting your mind.
Creativity can be interfered with you being preoccupied with other thoughts. Whether it is your personal issues, a task that has been long overdue, or even the mess in your room that has become your Zoom background, you cannot get into your creative flow if there are things constantly bugging you. Before sitting down and getting to work, it is then important to make sure you have cleared your mind (or your room) and finished your chores or anything that could distract your creative rhythm. It would also help to recognize the main sources of our distractions and work to prevent them from letting us drift away from our zone of focus. For instance, having our phones around can get us sidetracked with notifications, and then we might go into the downward spiral of unconsciously spending more time scrolling non-stop on Facebook. Some techniques to counter this would be airplane mode, keeping your phone away in a separate room, and using productivity and distraction-free apps such as Forest and Engross.
Train your brain to focus.
Another strategy to get going is by training your mind by getting into the habit of focusing for a specific period of time. One way to do this is through the Pomodoro technique, a method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s when he was still a university student. Due to being overwhelmed by his workload, he committed only a specific amount of time to read.
The core of this method is setting a Pomodoro, an indivisible time unit dedicated to a specific task. Say, giving 25 minutes to reading and reading alone. There shouldn’t be any unnecessary tasks in between such as checking emails or social media. After achieving this, give yourself a definite time for a break, and after 4 sessions, take a much longer 25-30 minute break.
Try again tomorrow.
There are some days that are just not our best days. If nothing works, you might really need a pause or for your mind to take a rest. As previously said, taking breaks and rest is also productive. Sometimes, ideas just need to simmer in your mind for a day. Listen to your body, and keep in mind that creativity is not to be forced.
Especially for creatives and positions deemed to be the brain of businesses and organizations, ideas are king and creativity is our capital. In redeeming and sustaining our creativity, it is important to remember the value of a clear mind, the right time and headspace, surrounding yourself with the right people, and the significance of resting.