One of the biggest challenges to staying creative in a productive way is getting distracted by outside influences. We have multiple other interests, experiences, people, responsibilities and ideas that pull us in various directions throughout the day. They tend to stop us from being able to focus creatively on one task. If you want to keep the creative juices flowing easily, limit all distractions you can.
Work in an environment that gives you the kind of quiet or privacy you need. Some people work better in total silence, some work with music. Make sure you have time away from other people. Let your friends and family know that at a certain time or when you’re in your office, you don’t want to be disturbed. You can turn off your phone alerts and even block social media websites for certain periods of time so you don’t give in to distraction.
If you’re an artist, hang paintings and drawings by other artists you admire on your walls. If you’re a writer, always have a few of your favourite books on hand. We are inspired and touched by the work of others. When you feel a block in your creative inspiration, revisit a piece that influences you to be great and get back in the right headspace.
Find challenges and games you can use to force yourself to create. Sometimes the best things come from tests like this; for instance, Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham” was written as the result of a bet! If you’re an artist, set a goal to sketch at least one picture per day. If you’re a writer, challenge yourself to write a certain number of words or certain number of stories within a specific time. You may surprise yourself with what you come up with.
By considering the hypothetical (“what might have been?”) you can re-imagine your reality and come up with interesting new perspectives. You can think of events that already happened and try to figure out what kinds of things would have gone differently if you’d changed an element or two. It’s not just a fun mental exercise. Look at your favourite painting and try to recreate it with a different type of paint or brush. Consider your favourite short story and rewrite it in an alternate universe. By starting with something familiar, you can more easily be creative about how you approach it.
Daydreaming can be blamed for a lot of lost focus and productivity. But studies have shown that if you’re daydreaming about a project you’ve already committed to, you can sift through the information you have and come to creative conclusions. This is slightly more structured than just letting your mind wander with no direction. The brain naturally makes connections, so if you’re feeling stuck on a particularly issue, sit somewhere comfy and let your mind just think without putting too much pressure on yourself.