‘Writer’s block’ can apply to anyone working in any field, and it can be a pain to keep things moving if you run out of ideas or lose momentum.
The thing is, when you google how to stay creative or productive, you’ll often find a bunch of the same old bland and vague lists with suggestions that offer little explanation as to WHY you should do those things.
BANGcopy has got you covered with this list of creativity / productivity life-hacks. Some you may have seen before, and others might take you by surprise.
Anyways, the next time your mojo is missing, try a couple of these and we’ll have the creative juices flowing around that big ol’ brain of yours in no time.
Whether you’re looking for an answer to a specific question, learning a new skill or just stuck for ideas, YouTube is an absolute goldmine for tutorials and ‘how to’ videos. After some searching and scrolling, you’ll soon find a few good channels
Even if you don’t find what you’re looking for, you’ll definitely stumble across something that could re-kindle your creative flame.
‘Triggers’ is a kind of card game designed to make you ask questions and tickle your curiosity by asking you ‘what-ifs’.
For example – “What if I had a a stack of cards that I could flick through, and what if those cards prompted me to think about something that I might not have before hand?”
The answer is, you could end up being more creative and full of ideas.
Here’s a link to their site, where you’ll find a variety of different decks to purchase.
Meditation has been practised by cultures across the world for thousands of years, and science is beginning to reveal why:
- Increased cortical thickness in the hippocampus = improved memory and focus
- Decreased cell volume in amygdala = improved mood, less anxiety and stress
- Changes in neurohormones = lower blood pressure
You don’t have to sit crossed-legged, you don’t have to be a pompous celebrity and you don’t have to be a monk. All you need is a spare 15 minutes and a chair. Easy as that.
Want to give it a go? Headspace is a digital service that you can use to practise guided meditation. You recieve 10 days worth of guidance for free, from which you’ll be given the tools to meditate on your own. Lovely.
4. Have a chat
Tell your friends or family about the problem you’re facing and talk to them about it. Sure, they might not be educated on the subject you’re talking about but by engaging in conversation you’re keeping your brain active, and you might eventually find yourself flicking some switches buried deep in your mind. Ask them what they think, see what happens.
5. Go analog – write things down
Despite the scientific evidence that shows the benefits of actually writing things down, the pen is often forgetten about nowadays; mostly due to our recent advancements in technology.
Pam Mueller of Princeton and Daniel Oppenheimer of UCLA found that you’ll be able to remember and study more efficiently if you make notes on paper, instead of on a screen. For example, if you’re learning the alphabet, practising how to draw the letters rather than just looking at them is far more beneficial to the learning process.
Your brain often prefers it when you perform an action in order to reinforce what you’ve just learnt, whether it’s slowly carrying out the technique for the perfect golf-swing or writing down the alphabet. It’s called kinisthetic learning, and many of us benefit from learning this way.
Obviously, laptops and mobiles are HUGELY beneficial but it’s good to get away from the screen for a while. A bit of both could be just what you need.
6. Get a noteboard
That said, if you’re a bad procrastinator or organiser, get yourself a noteboard or a whiteboard and stick it on your wall. Now you can leave your hand-written notes right in front of your face.
Not in your pocket, not in a folder or a closed notebook and not on a phone or laptop, just waiting to be forgotten about. Right. There. In your face.
7. Social Media
I know what you’re thinking. BUT. Social media is jam-packed full of advice, experts and professionals who know A LOT about specific subjects. The best thing is, they’re more than happy to help.
If you haven’t already, try searching for groups and pages on Facebook. I’m a member of a good handful of groups for Copywriting and Journalism and they’re extremely useful. You’ll find advice, tutorials, a community to talk to and share ideas with, and even work!
Instagram and Pinterest are also useful if you need some quick visual ideas. Again, follow some professionals within your field and do a quick scroll through your feed when you need inspiration.
Side note: the key here is to only follow groups, pages and individuals that will keep you focussed. Try and stay away from cat memes and other distractions.
8. Exercise (not just for losing weight)
Humans were designed to move. We have to keep moving to stay healthy, and our brain rewards us when we do. When we exercise our body / brain releases dopamine and serotonin, chemical transmitters responsible for regulating our mood and various emotional responses (click links for more info).
Despite the sweat and pain, you feel good about yourself for making the effort – because your brain is ‘rewarding’ you with these chemicals.
What’s this got to do with creativity and productivity, you ask. Well…
- Improved mood = increased motivation
- Excercise = more oxygen to the brain = improved brain function (short term)
- Regular excercise = improved and maintained brain function (long term)
A healthy brain is a happy brain, and a happy brain is more creative than ever. So, take mother nature’s little hints and get a jog on.
9. Brainstorming / mind-mapping
Whether it’s on paper, on a whiteboard or online, mind-mapping is a great way to generate ideas and solve problems, either by yourself or with company.
Here’s some links to a few brainstorming tools and apps that you may find useful.
10. Get (slightly) intoxicated
Take this one with a pinch of salt, but there is some science behind the theory. The idea that some drugs, including alcohol, provide a benefit to creative processes has long been assumed by popular culture, but had not been tested in a controlled environment until Pyschologist Jennifer Wiley (PhD and Professor of Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago) carried out a series of examinations.
Her study found that, when slightly intoxicated from alcohol you are more likely to have a ‘eureka moment’ in which you solve a creative problem. Not only that, you’re also more likely to have these moments, and solve problems faster than you would if you were sober.
“People generally assume that when we are trying to solve problems complete focus is required… “In reality, too much focus can hinder our access to creative thinking.” – J. Wiley, PhD
The quote above is interesting, and implies that the results of this test could also be true for other occasions, such as being high on cannabis, or when you’re tired. This article does a great job of explaining why that may be true. It’s definitely worth a read!
Well, that brings us to an end…
So, if you catch yourself staring in to space, half hoping that someone will take the wheel and finish what you started , then take a break for a minute.
Imagine what you want from what you’re doing, then write down what you think you need to get there. Now you’ve got a handy check-list, and you can use the hint and tips above to get there. Handy, ey?
Oh, and before you go…
Do yourself a favour, save this to your bookmarks so you’ve always got a little nudge if you need it.