Bossing myself around has turned out to be harder than expected. I discussed this in my last funemployment update, but basically I’m discovering that it’s more difficult than I imagined to keep focused when I’m all alone staring at the computer screen.If you missed Monday’s post, we discussed some ways that I’ve been able to get myself motivated.
Wednesday, we talked about avoiding distractions.
And today, we’ll tackle creativity!
I recently read this awesome article by Amy Lynn Andrews (that I found while researching something else so I clipped it into Evernote and read it at a later time!) that discusses how to best organize the time that you work on your blog. She lists 5 things that you should spend your time doing: creating, engaging, reading, doing projects, and working on administrative tasks. I find it easier to focus on the last 4 activities, but don’t spend as much time as I should creating things.
So I’ve brainstormed some ways to get me into the creative mindset so that I can CREATE more.
How I Get Creative
Schedule Your Day Properly
Are you a morning person? Or a night owl? Think about what times you feel most productive and try to schedule your day around those. For me, my schedule goes something like this:
7-9 // It takes awhile for me to wake up in the morning. So I usually check email and read blogs while I have breakfast and drink a cup of tea. By the time I’m done with that, I’ve woken up enough to tackle a blog post or two.
9-12 // Later morning is more blog writing or administrative type stuff. The other day I used this time to sign up for MailChimp in an attempt to get a fancier email list for the blog.
12-1 // During & after lunch, I’m back in a non-productive slump so I do a little more blog reading or podcast listening until I’m ready to be productive again.
1-4 // Afternoon is usually my time to work on big projects.
Evening // After Mike gets home, I stop working and hang out with him. If he ends up on his computer, I hop back on mine to do a little more work but I try to stick to fairly easy tasks that don’t take much mental energy. I do things like editing pictures and adding links to a post-in-progress. That way, if we start talking or decide to take a walk, I can easily stop what I’m doing and have fun with him rather than being deep into a blog post and losing my train of thought.
If I was a night owl, I might schedule my day so that I stay up really late working but sleep in later. This past Sunday night I stayed up until 4:30am (bad combo of taking a 3 hour nap that afternoon plus drinking a big homemade latte at 4pm... oops) and it was kinda cool. But I'm not sure I ever want to stay up that late again; I was like a zombie on Monday!
Of course, not all jobs allow you to schedule your day quite that extreme. But if you're really much more productive late at night, see how much you can rearrange your schedule to take advantage of your prime working time.
Take a walk.
I know, you’ve probably heard this one a million times. But you’ve heard it a million times because it’s TRUE! Taking even a 10 minute walk (outside!) never fails to clear my head and get me in the creative mood.
It took me awhile to realize this, but you just can’t create original content when other people’s voices are in your head.
If I’m trying to work on an e-book or brainstorm new post ideas, I’ve found that I need to physically remove myself from my computer. It’s too easy to read some other post and get that author’s thoughts in your head instead of your own (obviously much better!) ideas.
The other day, I walked to the library with two pieces of printer paper and a pen in my pocket. (And a phone, and chapstick, and my driver's license and a credit card, just in case. But that doesn't help the story.) When I got there, I found a table, sat down, and started writing. Real writing, with the pen and paper (how old school! )
Spoiler alert: it was awesome! It’s amazing how creative we can be once there aren’t all sorts of internet voices overwhelming and distracting us.
Record your ideas.
Ideas for blog posts or business ideas or work projects will come to you at the most random times. Take advantage of these times! Keep a pad of paper or list on your phone (or an Evernote notebook ;) ) handy so that you can jot down your brilliant ideas whenever they come to you. Next time you have writers block, refer to the notebook and you’ll have tons of ideas to write about!
Some days, I get bogged down in the weeds. I try too hard to get things perfect. But I’ve learned to listen to these two images...
If you analyze stuff too much, or try too hard to be perfect, you’ve never going to get anything accomplished. Just get your work as good as you can manage with the time that you have, and put it out there. Don’t worry that your writing isn’t perfect or your formatting JUST SO. I promise, people won’t dismiss your ideas just because you had one too many run-on sentences or typos (which I am almost always guilty of).
Last but not least... stop doubting yourself. Without a question, my most unproductive days are those in which I’m pessimistic about life. Sometimes I wake up and think, “What the hell am I doing? I can’t start a business! Who’s going to take my advice?” and, as you can guess, I don’t get much done those days.
Try being your own cheerleader instead. You’ll be amazed at how much you get done when you’re pumping yourself up rather than beating yourself down. You’re capable of so much more than you think. Go out and do awesome things! What’s the worst that can happen?