Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Five Ways to Get Out of a Rut and Get Back to Work

It happens to the best of us, the muse takes an inconveniently timed vacation (and you’d really like slap the inconstant tart). Whether you have a big deadline coming up, or just have found yourself distracted or procrastinating, sometimes you just need a little extra boost to get back to work.  When I find myself struggling to find the get up and go, here are some tactics I use to try to tempt back the muse and get some real work done.

1)   Go Somewhere That Inspires You

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So often when I am feeling blocked or frustrated all it takes is going somewhere that makes me happy, somewhere that gets my creative juices flowing again. For me, that means nature, particularly trees and water. If I’m having a block I love to go to an arboretum or nature center. I step inside, breathe in, and instantly feel more calm. It doesn’t have to be a vacation, or far away. Find a good local spot you can go to feel inspired and relaxed.

          2)  Leave Your Work Space for Awhile
Sometimes the physical environment we are working in contributes to the block. If you are hanging around in your home or office, surrounded by the projects you feel you should have finished already, you may actually decrease in productivity. It also makes procrastinating easier. Does this sound familiar? “Man, this isn’t going well. Oh hey, that sure is are lot of dishes in the sink…I should really do those.” Four hours later, you have a squeaky clean house, but a project no where near finished. Go to a coffee shop, a local library, or heck, just go out on your patio or porch. Give your brain a change of venue, and eliminate those distractions and ways to procrastinate.

3)  Don’t Work While Watching TV
I am very guilty of this one. I just want some background noise, so I put the TV on while I work.  Next thing I know, I am either completely watching the TV or I realize that I am working, but about three times slower than usual. At very least don’t put on the latest episode of “Game of Thrones” (or anything that will steal your attention). If you're not in a rush, and don’t mind going at a slower pace, that's fine, but if you are really against a wall for a deadline, avoid the TV.  If I feel I just have to have background noise to focus, I tend to put on music instead, or travel or nature shows. These things are pleasant, may help keep me inspired, but stay in the background where they belong.  Also try turning the volume down lower than you would if you were fully watching the TV.

4) Take a Break
Sometimes the harder you push and try to focus, the stronger the block becomes. Sometimes a simple walk outside, or lunch with a friend will cause the solution to your problem to just pop into your brain (only as soon as you stop thinking about it of course). Just make sure that it is a disciplined break and it doesn't slide into procrastination.

5)     Compartmentalize & Discipline
If you have already tried a lot of these, and they haven’t worked, you may be in the realm of needing to give yourself a swift kick in the pants. Commit to working on something. Give yourself consequences if you don’t (or just remind yourself of the consequences that may already exist). Often you may feel overwhelmed; there are too many things to do, so you just do none of them. Don’t make yourself a pledge to finish all the things, it won’t work. Pick a single project, and commit 30 minutes, if even to just start it.  Just tell yourself  “Just sit down and start it, just try for 30 mins, and then if it doesn't work, we can take a break or try something else.” This trick works wonders for me. Sometimes I do only work the 30 minutes. What usually what ends up happening is that with less pressure.  I end up getting way farther than anticipated, and usual working way longer than 30 minutes. If you compartmentalize and focus, and give yourself permission to take breaks, it takes a lot of the pressure off. In my personal experience, that pressure is one of the key ingredients to a creative block.


Thanks for reading, and I do hope this helps you wrangle that pesky muse! Feeling depressed about your run off muse, and would prefer to procrastinate a bit longer before you get to work? Like lists? Check out my  post of 7 Things You Shouldn't Try if you are a Crafter with a Cat

Until next time!

~ By GoblinGal

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