As creative people, designers rely heavily on their ability to constantly come up with interesting new concepts and ideas. They say creativity never runs out, but now and again you can feel drained. If you find yourself lacking in creative energy, I’ve listed a few things you could try to get back on track.
“If Tom Landry’s hat doesn’t motivate you, then maybe I should just quit!” – Homer Simpson
Inspiration can come from anywhere, and sometimes the best way to get inspired is to see how other designers solved the same problem. Reading books on design or blog posts, or even browsing a website like Behance or Dribbble can help you see things from a fresh perspective. Surround your workspace with images and quotes that inspire you.
2. Take a Break
If history has taught us anything, is that if you’re weighed down by a problem, the best thing to do is do something completely different. Here are some examples –
Archimedes, the famous Greek mathematician and all-round genius, was asked by the king to prove that his crown was made of pure gold. The story goes that this problem tortured the mathematician for weeks, and eventually his exhausted wife asks him to take a bath and relaxed.
When he got into the bath, he noticed the water rise, displaced by the volume of his body. He knew that he could use displacement to calculate the volume, and then find out the density of the crown.
(You can watch a more in-depth version of this story here)
In a similar story, in 1869, the Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev, had been trying to find a pattern for the then-known 64 elements for a decade.
He was an avid card-player and enjoyed playing the card game Solitaire, where the aim of the game is to sort cards into their different suits. He created a new pack of cards, each one with a different element with it’s atomic weight written on it.
The story goes that he worked on sorting the cards for 3 days and nights without rest. On the third day, with a snowstorm outside, he decided to stay at home and fell asleep, and had a dream. The periodic table came to him in his dream, where each of the elements were arranged by mass and also by their chemical properties. There were even spaces for elements that had not yet been discovered.
If you want to check out more about the Dmitri Mendeleev story, find it here in this excellent documentary from BBC.
The point is, take a break. Relax. Step away from the computer and do something completely different.
3. Do A Short Course
Maybe you’ve been doing the same thing for longer than a few months, and you feel like a hamster in a wheel. If you feel the problem isn’t associated with a single project, but more a career-fatigue, it might be time to do a course, workshop or seminar.
These courses, seminars and workshops have been developed by people with years of experience. They then distill this experience and knowledge into a few short days.
Just to be clear, I’m not talking about going back to college. I’m talking about taking a few days for intense training.
A few months ago I found myself going through fatigue and looked for a way to get inspired again. I found UX Training – and while it wasn’t cheap, it was the best €900 I’ve ever spent. The knowledge I received in just 2 days would have taken me years to acquire working in the field.
4. Talk It Over
It might be helpful to join the local Dribbble meetup to discuss problems you’re having with other designers to get their perspective. Or you could ask a friend who might be able to offer possible suggestions.
5. Go Easy On Yourself
Creative block happens to everyone now and again. Don’t get hung up and allow temporary set backs dampen your enthusiasm.
Or you could just get yourself down to the nearest hammock district.
It’s on 3rd.