Creativity is a major part of running a business. Whether you’re running a creative business or you need to find creative solutions to problems as they arise, business owners need to find ways to have a steady flow of creativity.
Here’s what I mean by that.
In my business, I literally make money based off of my creativity. I write content for clients, teach classes, figure out what to say at speaking gigs and write marketing copy for myself.
Sometimes it’s not so literal though. Sometimes I run into a problem and need to find the creative solution. For example, maybe I overextended myself on my credit card or have an unexpected expense come up at which point I need to get creative and find a way to make money.
Both of these examples point to one thing: my business depends on my ability to have a steady flow of creativity The same is probably true for your business.
Here are some strategies business owners can implement so that they stay creative regardless of what may be going on.
Schedule in time to chill.
Not doing anything may sound counterintuitive when you have a mountain of creative projects you need to get through, but the reality is that creativity and burnout don’t play nice together.
That’s why it’s important that if you want a steady flow of creativity, that you schedule in time each week (and I would even argue each day to an extent) to rest. For instance, I’m at yoga every Wednesday evening no questions asked. I also make sure to take time off during the weekend to chill out.
In fact, by Friday afternoon I’m usually already feeling fried and need to take a break, so that’s what I do until Sunday or Monday. That way I’m ready to get back to it with a fresh mind.
Make sure you’re getting enough sleep.
I don’t play with my sleep. Even when I was still working at a day job and trying to build a business on the side, I didn’t forgo sleep. I’d give up going out and socializing, but there was no way you’d find me getting less than seven hours of sleep a night.
The same holds true today. I do my absolute best to stick to a sleep routine that doesn’t include working until the moment I close my eyes at night. In fact, I even try to avoid screens for at least an hour before bed so I can get better sleep.
It doesn’t take a rocket science to figure out why this is so important. If I’m exhausted, I don’t have the mental clarity or focus that it takes to stay creative and get my work done. I’m simply just not as sharp if I’m not sleeping.
Move your body.
If I’m feeling like I’m in a creative rut and rest isn’t really helping, then moving my body surely will. This is something I experienced toward the latter half of 2016 and first quarter of 2017. I wasn’t really working out like I used to because my schedule got a little crazy – and my flow of creativity was suffering.
That’s why my behind is back in a yoga studio this quarter. It’s also why I’m making sure to get a walk of a couple of miles in on a weekly basis – usually over the weekend when I’m taking a break.
Hang out with other types of creatives.
One thing that helps me stay creative in my own business is to hang out with other kinds of creatives.
This is actually a strategy I discovered by accident not long ago. I started hanging out with photographers, graphic designers and fashion designers in my local area in an effort to make new friends.
What ended up happening was this helped me get out of one of the worst creative ruts I’ve ever experienced. It also helped me have a major eureka moment in my own visual branding.
Now I realize that getting out of my finance blogger bubble and getting different perspectives from different types of creatives helped me see my business in a new way. The end result has been a steady flow of creativity that hasn’t stopped.
Ask your audience what’s going on.
If I’m ever running out of ideas or find that my flow of creativity is blocked, I go back to the very people who helped me build the career I have today – my audience.
Let’s say I’m drawing a blank on content for articles for clients. All I have to do is go to my social media pages and crowdsource. Or, I look through notes I take during coaching calls for common themes and ideas.
Worst case scenario is I take it to Twitter and search for specific hash tags to see what’s going on in my field.
Try a radio station that helps you focus.
One of my favorite tools for getting stuff done –especially when the creativity isn’t flowing – is to use services like Brain.fm to help me out and clear my brain of extraneous information so I can focus.
Brain.fm, and services like it, use brain wave data and statistics to create music that helps you stay focused. I simply turn it on and within 15 minutes I’m able to get back to my creative, relevant work. The best part is it tracks data that is specific to you and then advises you and how to use the service more effectively.
Take frequent breaks.
One of the reasons I love working from my coworking space is that I’m forced to take breaks.
If I’m working from home, I have the terrible tendency of working until I drop. I’ll skip lunch and breaks because I’m afraid I’ll become lethargic. Meanwhile, at the office, I’m able to take breaks and just get back to work.
Depending on the day, I’ll go for a walk mid-afternoon if I’m really feeling blocked. After 10 minutes I feel more energized and ready to finish up the day. My creativity usually comes back after a break as well.
Keeping a flow of creativity doesn’t have to be a hassle. The important thing to remember is that we’re not machines. If we’re able to do that and follow the strategies laid out in this article, we can maintain our creative flows and stay productive.