5 Simple Strategies to Help You Finish the Year Strong, and Get Next Year Off to a Great Start
Many creative professionals– from artists and designers to visual communications and advertising specialists– chose their career because it’s something they are really passionate about. Unfortunately, no amount of passion will keep you from falling into the occasional creative funk. If you feel like you’re running out of creative energy, don’t worry. The new year is the perfect opportunity to refresh your workflows to boost your productivity and give you some much-needed inspiration.
In this article, we’ll cover several strategies for revitalizing your creative process, including:
- Find and fix problems in your existing workflows
- Develop a routine
- Choose a goal
- Produce, produce, produce
- Know when to recharge and when to challenge
1. Find and fix problems in your existing workflows.
Let’s be honest– there are probably a few hiccups in your creative workflows that you’ve been meaning to address for a while now. If your process is feeling somewhat lackluster of late, finding solutions to the issues that are making your current workflows a pain is a great place to start.
Are you still delivering large design files in zipped folders via email (please, please nobody do this)? Then it’s time to check out a cloud-based file sharing solution. Has your brainstorming process stopped evolving? It might be time to test a new brainstorming strategy.
Identify where your creative hurdles are, and then get rid of them. You’ll be so glad you did!
2. Make creativity a habit.
I know, I know– that sounds extremely counterintuitive. Creativity isn’t something you can force, right? So what difference does it make when you answer emails/do your drafting/ wake up in the morning? Creativity is just supposed to happen.
We all love those moments of inspiration– those eureka! moments that inspire our projects for days or weeks or even months. Unfortunately, inspiration is fickle, and the best way to keep yourself out of a creative slump in between those glorious moments of creative genius is turn your creativity into a process.
This is all about having the discipline to be creative even when the ideas aren’t flowing freely. Everybody’s process looks different. Balzac made a habit of drinking (kind of dangerous amounts of) caffeine and staying up all night to work on his writing. Dumas color coded his writing.
Find out what works for you, and do it. Every day.
3. Give yourself something to work towards.
What are you working towards? Of course, you always have deadlines to meet, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. Think about the big picture. What you want your portfolio to like like 6 months from now? What skills do you want to develop, and what skills do you think you’re going to need to develop in order to stay on top of your game (even if you aren’t super thrilled about learning them)?
Pick something you want to work on, and find a way to incorporate reach towards that goal in every project you take on.
4. Don’t be afraid of producing “bad” work.
We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to produce something amazing the first time through– or at least something decent. It makes sense. You’ve got a reputation to uphold, right? But did you ever wonder if you might be holding yourself back?
People tend to think of children as extremely creative and imaginative. What’s the difference between you now and you when you were 6? Generally speaking, kids are much less concerned with how their ideas will be perceived than adults. This frees them to produce more ideas, and like anything else, more practice makes for better results.
Don’t be afraid of producing “bad” work– be prolific! Just keep creating, and eventually the right ideas will come.
5. Know when to challenge yourself and when to recharge.
Very broadly speaking, when something just isn’t working in your life you have two options: lean in, or step back. In terms of your design process, that means if your strategy has gone stale you can either try to do more or give yourself a break. Most of this list has been focused on strategies for helping you build upon your existing creative workflows, but sometimes that isn’t the answer.
Sometimes, you just need to take that break.
In order to do this effectively, you need to know yourself and how you work. Maybe taking 10 minutes to doodle, power nap, or otherwise recharge your creative battery is enough, or maybe you need to take a whole day to clear your head. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted, and don’t fool yourself into thinking an activity that zaps your focus is “recharging” just because it’s a break from work (I’m looking at you, social media).
Professional creators like artists, designers, visual communication specialists, and advertisers face the unique challenge of keeping their creative process fresh all the time. Whether you’ve been in a creative funk or are simply looking for ways to jumpstart your workflows in the year ahead, these 5 strategies will help you refresh your creative process.
What are your favorite strategies for creative success? Help a fellow creator out and share your experience in the comments below!
This is a sponsored post for Dropbox. All opinions are my own. Dropbox is not affiliated with nor endorses any other products or services mentioned.