My Master-List for Thinking outside of the Box


We all have moments when we want to accomplish something and instead just get stuck. It’s called a creative block. And, man, it can be one hell of a block. Moments like these make you doubt everything, but mostly yourself and why you are doing what you are doing. After struggling with my own creative blocks, I sat down and finally came up with what can be called my personal master-list of strategies to combat a creative block.

1. Eat, drink, and get comfortable:
First of all, you need to meet your basic needs. Sounds simple – and it is. Once you got that out of the way, you’ll have it a lot easier when it comes to doing the mental work.

2. Sweat!:
As you probably know, physical activity boosts brain power. Getting the blood pumping and the juices flowing will give you superpowers in terms of creative thinking. Don’t wipe yourself out, though. Working out to the point where you’ve completely drained your energy is not a good idea. Exert yourself in moderation. And do something that is fun, an activity you actually enjoy.

3. Take a nap:
Start noticing when you are overly tired and when you need a break. Unless you’ve doped yourself with way too much coffee or Red Bull, try to get a short snooze in. It will give you a much-needed energy boost and help your brain to process whatever you are working on. Laying down for 20-30min will not use up too much of your work time but it will make the time you really ARE working more productive.

4. Change your surroundings:
Go outside, sit in a café or coffeeshop, or make use of the public library. Just get out of your usual work space and surroundings in order to stimulate your brain and help you think beyond the treaded paths. Rearranging your furniture or your desk alone will do the trick. Switching the medium may also be a good idea. If you normally use the computer, go retro and do some good old handwriting.

5. Meditate:
I know, it sounds a bit woo-woo, but it helps. The trick is to let go of past regrets and future fears. Free your mind of them and be in the now. This will assist you in being present with what you are doing. Getting rid of whatever inhibits you is what’s gonna spur your creativity. It can’t hurt to be a bit of a new-age hippie.

6. Embrace mindless activities:
Do something that doesn’t challenge your mind. A good example would be to clean the house. Trust me, you just have to get past the aversion. But then it will really help you dust out your mental cobwebs.

7. Talk to friends:
Get a different opinion or different approach from someone. You don’t have to like your friends’ ideas or ever use them, but they will certainly steer your mind in a different direction.

8. Recall past successes:
Go back to your pinnacles of creativity and figure out what made them such successes.

9. Find an inspiring example:
Yes, you can get inspiration from someone else’s work. Just vary (and I mean really vary – without copyright infringement) the work of someone else. Everyone does it, but nobody ever talks about it. You can’t reinvent the wheel, but you CAN innovate. That’s what you should focus on.

10. Be patient:
Sometimes creativity takes time. There are many strategies to make creative thinking easier, but trying to force it is not gonna work. Have a little bit of patience and your great creative moment will come.

11. Enjoy the process:
This point probably speaks for itself. Find pleasure in what you are doing and be more process-oriented than goal-oriented. It takes all the fun out of it, if you just focus on your goal. Roll with whatever you’re doing, and the outcome will surprise you.

12. Just do it:
Nike had it right. Kicking procrastination in the butt and simply getting started might not be a bad idea. If you are overwhelmed with the task (which is the main reason to procrastinate, by the way), you can try breaking it down into smaller steps but eventually you’ll have to get over it and start. Just do it!

And now a few fun ones, before I let you get back to being a creative genius.

13. Have a drink:
A little bit of alcohol can’t hurt. And I don’t mean you should get completely wasted or do this on a regular basis, but once in a while a drink or two can be a good idea. The point is to take away some of the inhibition that oftentimes hinders creativity; and not to end up drooling, passed out on the floor….

14. Sing (badly and in private):
Give it your all in the shower or in the car, with the music at full blast, singing at the top of your lungs. Who cares that you can’t sing?! It’s fun and, again, it frees your mind from the usual inhibitions.

15. Get naked:
If you are REALLY stuck, take your clothes off and do whatever you have to do butt-naked. It’s silly but why not try it if you are REALLY stuck? And while you’re at it:

16. Have an orgasm:
Yes, you read that right. Sex boosts creativity. The reason for this is that it’s similar to meditation. For a while, it makes you forget everything around you and gives you the calm energy you need for creative focus.

That’s it. You have the tools. Now, choose one or more of these strategies – whichever ones you think might work for you – and have at it!

– Gabriela

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