Every holiday season, most of us just want to take a break and relax. It’s the perfect opportunity to lie low from work, bond with loved ones, go on an adventure, or pursue our creative hobbies.
On finally starting a project, we find ourselves with low motivation or we’ve been stuck in a job that has not been making us unhappy for too long that it’s hard to tap into our creative side now that we have the time. We squeeze the lemon the hardest we could yet no juice is coming out of it. It becomes frustrating especially if the break is almost over and we still haven’t taken advantage of the free time.
They say this is called the “rut,” a part of the creative process that creatives have to go through before reaching that Aha! Eureka moment. Merriam Webster Dictionary has three definitions for it: (1) a periodic and often annually recurring state of certain male animals (such as deer or elk) during which behavior associated with the urge to breed is displayed, (2) a track worn by a wheel or by habitual passage and (3) a usual or a fixed practice.
Looking at these definitions, a rut, no matter what context, is recurring, habitual, and fixed—an environment where a creative does not thrive. As a creative, the zone that we want to be in is an area that excites us, makes our hearts skip a beat, and our bodies groove to the music. To achieve that flow, you have to get out of this rut at the moment. Here are some 10 ways how to get out of the creative rut, hopefully before work starts again.
1. Step out of your comfort zone.
Most often than not, we feel stuck in a creative rut because we can’t find something exciting or challenging from the work we’re currently doing. You’ll really feel bored if you don’t spice things up and step out of your comfort zone. You don’t have to go for a grand project; it just has to be something that makes you feel uncomfortable. For instance, if you’re introverted, challenge yourself by chatting up a fellow coffee lover who is also in line for a cup of Americano. Or simply shoot your shot and message your crush with a “hi.” You’ll see yourself growing once you step out of that comfort zone.
2. Take some time to meditate.
Sometimes, to get out of your creative rut, all you need is a little break. Take deep breaths–inhale, exhale. Sit down, put your hands on your lap, and close your eyes. Follow a meditation guide through paid subscription apps such as Headspace or Calm. If you don’t want to spend, you may get free guided ones on YouTube. Meditation helps you to be more mindful of what you’re doing at present. It takes your mind away from your worries and allows you to focus on your tasks or plans.
You may do this while seated comfortably in your massage gaming chair from Flexispot. If it helps you to think better, you could even recline the seat up to the angle that you are most comfortable in.
3. Declutter your space.
Clean your workstation. Use storage units such as a mesh desk organizer for your desk essentials. An under desk drawer is also a good alternative because of its storing capacity and flexibility to be mounted on any board. You may also use a metal file cabinet where you can arrange and rearrange its contents to fill your time.
4. Stretch your body.
Do at least ten minutes of yoga and get deep into the practice. When you stretch, you release tensed muscles. When you move more, such as exercise, your body releases endorphins. Yoga, as a practice, can calm you down and help you manage your thoughts and emotions, allowing you to see things with a clearer mind.
5. Walk outside.
Get inspiration from the bustling, daily life of the city or wherever you are. If you are in a metropolis, observe the coming and going of people. Allow yourself to silently judge them and make up conversations to busy your mind. If you live in the suburbs, walk slowly towards the farm, listen to the sound of nature, and why not taste local coffee.
Ask questions about your surroundings; listen to sounds around you. What is the meaning behind the wall art that you see from afar? Why is this area so crowded with rowdy tourists wanting a photo? What do you wear outside nowadays? Taking a stroll outside allows your mind to think, even for a brief time only.
6. Bend the rules.
Whatever it is you’re doing, you’re reading this article because it’s sucking the life out of you. Why don’t you bend the rules a bit for occasional fun? Introduce a new format or explore an unconventional topic. Following things by the book will in one way or another bore you at some point. If you have a superior, don’t bypass them by not letting them know first of your plan.
7. Talk to a friend.
This friend of yours never fails to comfort you. Chat or call them for even just a hot minute. Be honest and open about your feelings and how it is affecting your creativity. Release your emotions to the person you trust won’t ever leave you, through thick or thin. You could talk about work and the time you got stuck out of a creative rut.
You could even share laughs with your friend who might brighten up your mood. It doesn’t have to be your best friend but preferably, someone you like talking with.
8. Read inspirational quotes every day.
Fill your workspace with inspirational quotes. You may use a corkboard where you could pin all the inspirational quotes that struck and motivated you. Fill it in and put it somewhere you can see every time you look in that direction.
9. Take a power nap.
Your mind and body need to rest. If you need a reset, take a power nap on that day to help you recalibrate and recharge.
Sometimes, or most of the time, you can’t think clearly because you lack sleep. You think you’re wasting your time if you sleep a lot; on the contrary, it actually helps you be more efficient and focused throughout the day.
10. Know your why.
Ultimately, you just have to circle back to asking yourself why you are doing what you are doing. Write down your thoughts to gain a deeper sense of clarity. You would know what to do next when you’ve processed everything carefully in your head.
A creative rut is temporary. We all have to go through it to reach the end of a dark tunnel. Even with all these tips, sometimes, letting it happen is the best way to get rid of it. Surround yourself with people who inspire you, support you, cheer for you and challenge you to become the best version of yourself. This will help you get out of a creative rut.