Working in a creative job has its good and its bad sides. The ideas come when they want to and are difficult to control. In other professions, the harder you work, the more and more results you get. Creativity, however, unfortunately sometimes sees it a bit differently. The more you try to get the ideas out, the faster you get burned out and can’t see any way out.
As a design student, this happened to me all the time. Every project had to be finished within a certain time frame and therefore had to grow from week to week. Sometimes it happens that you fall into a hole where you have to have THE ONE idea by tomorrow morning in order to be able to discuss it with your professor. At this moment, the brain likes to say: Creativity? What is that? You, creative? Haha, yeah right! And then comes panic.
There are some nights when I just couldn’t sleep and just tossed and turned trying to come up with some kind of plan that might become a good idea … or might not. Working under pressure and expecting myself to just function made me stumble from one stressful week to the next. As a result, my projects became a mix of running around like a headless chicken and a desperate attempt to somehow refocus. I really tried everything.
From sitting in front of a blank piece of paper and scribbling meaninglessly, to taking breaks that I only allowed myself with a guilty conscience and still couldn’t switchmy mind off because. It was a disaster. Of course, in the end I always somehow managed to deliver something I could be proud of, but all the stress behind it was just completely unnecessary.
After a few semesters of becoming more and more stressed with the whole situation, I finally sat down and conquered the elephant in the room
Ich musste unbedingt die Kontrolle über meinen Körper und meine Gedanken zurückgewinnen. Zu verstehen was Kreativität überhaupt ist, half mir mein wichtigstes Werkzeug zu begreifen und kontrollierter einzusetzen.
What is creativity anyways?
By definition, it means: having the ability to create something new that also offers a certain use.
I don’t remember where I read it, but someone once said that creativity and intelligence are inseparable. You have to be intelligent to make new connections and create something new. You also have to be very creative to make intelligent decisions and think outside the box.
So that means if you want to gain control over your creativity, you have to try to control your intelligence. Oh my! Now you may be thinking, “Okay, I’ll study then.” Unfortunately, however, I’m not talking about education here.
To gain control over when and where you can think creatively at the push of a button, you would have to be able to specifically control the connections in your brain. At least now we know that everyone is creative and intelligent in their own way. As you can see it, it is not so easy to gain control over something uncontrollable, but there is still hope. Through my long-term experience with ups and downs in the life of a creative, I’ve been able to acquire a few things that let me be productive even on the more uncreative days.
Stay productive with these simple steps::
- Plan ahead so you can buy yourself some time during creative lows. When you start a new project, you’re usually still bubbling with fresh ideas. Give yourself an advantage by writing down and sketching out every little detail. Even if the parts of it don’t seem important, it will let you follow and work out your own thought processes afterwards.
- Are you having creative low right now? Work out the parts of the project that you can control as well and look back at your initial notes.
- Take care of your body and mind. Eat healthy, exercise often enough, and drink plenty of water. These three things have a very big impact on how you feel. If you don’t feel fit and healthy, your mind won’t be able to work properly. A good workout also pushes your energy level and therefore your brain activity.
- Schedule breaks where you don’t talk or think about your project. Get together with a friend and just find some distraction. Take a break!
- Meet with a family member or friend just to talk about your project. The point is not to have them help you, but to get your thoughts out loud. You will have to explain your project to an outsider and at the same time you will be able to approach it from a different perspective.
- Use a bullet journal. I’m a very spontaneous person and whenever I saw people with planners, I thought I didn’t need one of those. Yet these notebooks are so handy! Since I finally got one, I’ve finally stopped forgetting things… and I’ve been able to start organizing myself better. In a bullet journal you can write your own calendar, but you can also just use it for notes and lists. It’s completely up to you.
Start a Bulletjournal
By finally starting to use a bullet journal, I also finally started implementing my own advice.
- I write all my notes in the book so that I don’t forget either the good or the bad ideas. When I get stuck, I look back at my notes to retrace my original train of thought.
- When I write down how much water I drink, I suddenly drink a lot more. My skin looks better as a result and is suddenly really soft too. Writing down my fitness plan helps me to stick to it. When I can check off one or two items as done, it goes straight to the brain’s reward center.
- Whenever I find a delicious recipe, I now write it down in my bullet journal. Instead of always cooking the same thing, I can now find other suggestions in my book and eat healthier.
- Planning my week, instead of going over and over the week’s appointments in my head, allows me to reasonably schedule time with my friends and family. I find this especially good about having a calendar in my journal, as it allows me to see exactly whether or not I’m still finding some time for myself.
- In the end, it’s just something completely different to write everything down instead of just keeping it in your head or typing it into your smartphone. Something written by hand is not easily forgotten and it gives it a deeper meaning again. Writing down ideas and seeing them on a piece of paper gives it a haptic and visual effect that is easier for the brain to process.