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As designers, we have moments where it seems impossible to come up with one more creative idea. How do we stay creative after years of designing, completing project after project, being creative day in and day out? There are many lists available that help us get beyond the creative block. I refer to some of them below. Yet, I have found three ‘activities’ that if I do them regularly and plan them into my weekly schedule, my creative juices remain active and fueled. If I become negligent in any of these three areas, I find myself gritting my teeth and having to grind it out to get through yet another creative project. The three activities:

  • Awaken Our Senses
  • Get Physical
  • Stop!

Awaken our Senses

Photo by Neal Fowler on Flikr

Have you noticed the sunset (or sunrise) recently? Have you heard the crunch of the fall leaves below your feet? Did you smell the recent approaching rainstorm? Or feel the softness of your clothes this morning? If not, it’s time to awaken our senses.

We often take the creativity and beauty around us (and within us) for granted. In our mission to get things done, the sunset goes unnoticed, the crunch of the fall leaves isn’t heard, and we put clothes on simply to cover us, not to feel them.

A year and a half ago I moved to an apartment overlooking a small pond on a golf fairway. In the distance are the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. I’ve lived here for two years. This past year I noticed herons coming and going, watched incredible lightning shows as the afternoon storms approached, and enjoyed the many shades of pink and red as the morning sunlight began to hit the mountains in the distance. And, I’ve wondered where I was last year? I don’t remember any of these last year…except maybe for the morning sunlight on the mountains. Yet, I’m sure herons came and went, afternoon storms displayed their fantastic lightning shows, and the sun still came up every morning. I missed the beauty last year. I missed the moments of stunning creativity. And, my work suffered.

Noticing the beauty and creativity around us awakens our senses. We think more creatively. We live life more creatively. Problems become opportunities. An issue becomes an adventure.

Intentionally slowing down to watch a sunset, to hear the crunch of the leaves below our feet, to visit an ethnic restaurant, to visit an art museum or a zoo—these activities awaken our senses. Take time to awaken your senses.

Get Physical

Photo by Neeta Lind on Flikr

We live in an intensive left-brain world. We think linearly. We plan strategically. We check off our to-do lists methodically. And, our creative right-side brain seldom gets a chance for expression. If we don’t intentionally shut down our left-brain, our creativity suffers.

In today’s society, we adapt to intensive left-brain activity early in life in order to be successful. We do it in school to get passing grades. Later, we do the same to be successful at work. We can easily get stuck in left brain dominant thinking.

In order to spark creativity, we need to escape this pattern of thinking. We need to force ourselves out of the left brain momentarily to give our right-side brain a chance for creative expression. Getting physical does just that.

It might be a walk, a bicycle ride, or doing yoga. Maybe it’s 20 minutes in the swimming pool, or an hour at the gym. Whatever it is, exercising helps shut off the chatter of the left brain and gives our right-side brain a chance for creative expression.

The silencing of the chatter awakens our creativity. We move from left-brain linear thinking to right-brain whole thinking. We see the forest instead of the trees, the whole instead of the parts, the 5 yr plan instead of the next hour.

When we exercise, we expand our mental and emotional range. We experience a broader range of emotions. Our creative abilities deepen. The worlds needs more than our to-do lists. It needs our creativity. Get physical.


Photo by Neal Fowlr on Flikr

Forcing creativity results in mediocre solutions. As designers, we’ve experienced the fast-approaching deadline and we don’t see a way to get it done except to stay at it. Those moments can be counter-productive.

Sometimes I think being a ‘professional’ designer isn’t a good idea. That means clients. That means deadlines. That means creativity has to happen within a certain amount of time. Yet, it’s life and it’s the way it is. I believe we can do things to invite creativity, to lay fertile soil for creativity to happen, in spite of these seemingly counter-productive pressures.

One of the hardest things to do when a deadline is quickly approaching is to stop. Yet, it is the act of stopping that is often the exact thing needed to not only meet the deadline, but to meet the deadline with creativity at its best.

Stopping means shutting everything down and doing something completely different. Take a nap. Enjoy a coffee. Walk around the block. Call up a friend. The break away from it all shuts off the brain. When you come back, you’re refreshed, rejuvenated, and more than likely, you’ll come back with a new perspective. The new perspective is often just what’s needed to get the project rolling again. I’e found I am more creative in a shorter amount time with a renewed and refreshed mind versus sticking it out and trying to be creative just to meet the deadline.

We stop to start. We stop the mad hustle to start anew. We stop the busyness to start refreshed. We stop the pressure to start relaxed. That’s the fertile soil in which creativity happens.

How about you? What are ways you’ve found to help keep the creativity alive? We would love to hear your opinion and feedback, so please don’t hesitate to comment below. For more useful content please don’t forget to subscribe to the RSS-feed and follow Inspirationfeed on TwitterFacebook! If you enjoyed the following article we humbly ask you to comment, and help us spread the word!

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Posted by Carma Leichty

Carma Leichty has worked full time in the multimedia industry as a graphic designer, web designer and trainer. During her 15+ years in the industry, she has worked for a variety of businesses, ranging from small consulting firms to Fortune 500 companies. Her passion for creativity and technology keeps her on the leading edge in this exciting and ever-changing industry.

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