Getting Creatively Un-Stuck

When my team gathers for parties, we invite former staff who have moved on to join us, like a reunion of sorts. It’s not long before they start joking about the times they were “sent home from work.”

I roll my eyes at the teasing knowing that they now appreciate what — at the time — felt like punishment.

Because when you have talented, hardworking staff, they want to get it right. They (and you) will stay and push and not want to stop without a solution.

And that’s amazing. Except when it isn’t.

Because sometimes working harder doesn’t work. Working longer doesn’t work. Even continuing to think about it doesn’t work.

You may be feeling this as you, like us, are disconnected from your normal routines. Working at home in isolation there is no one to catch you when you are falling into the black hole of the internet or (ahem) eating peanut butter out of the jar in frustration.

Here are the tricks we use to get un-stuck when creativity is elusive:

1. Set a timer. The Pomodoro Technique suggests 25 minutes of concentration with short and long breaks in between.
2. Switch Projects. Stop trying. Immerse yourself in something different.
3. Take a Walk. The combination of methodical movement and the outdoors is powerful.
4. Talk it Out. Brainstorm or just rant with a colleague or housemate.
5. Take a Shower. Hot water is magic.
6. Free Associate. Try a word association exercise as suggested by our intern. Start with a core idea and keep adding related words to expand your thinking.
7. Change Location. Normally, I’d say go home. But in this case, change rooms, go outside. Leave the place you are working.
8. Sleep on it. Let it go and start fresh tomorrow. People really do dream up solutions. That’s how we became “Iris.”

And if you are still stuck, let us know if we can help. Sometimes getting an outside perspective can be the most creative solution!