How to handle creative blocks?

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Things I bet you experienced

Have you ever sat in front of your work computer with your mind miles away? Or have you ever started working on an idea and got stuck in between not knowing how to move forward? If yes then welcome to the club 👋

This can be a stressful place to be. As creatives we can’t really say to the client: “Hey I have a creative block now. Your website will be done when the block is gone”.

Here’s my list of things to help us all feel more relaxed and overcome creative blocks:

White rectangle inside black rectangle imitating blank canvas fear

Have a process

Many creative blocks happen because of lack of process, research or direction. Sometimes we have this instinct that we need to be so creative that we should have only blank canvas in front of our eyes. This is misleading and actually unproductive. No one works in a vacuum and we should use the research and inspirations for everybody’s advantage.

Next time you get stuck try to revert back to the brief. Spend more time on the research, getting inspirations or dissecting the problem you’re trying to solve. Then see if ideas start to come again.

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Leave your desk

Get away from the problem you’re trying to solve. Creative work requires an open or fairly relaxed mind to perform. It’s very hard to come up with creative ideas when you’re tired or stressed. Many of our work problems can be solved just by getting some distance from it.

Next time you get stuck try to close your laptop and leave your desk. Focus on whatever else you can but do not think about work. Which brings me to the next point.

Blackrock park in Ireland
This is a lovely park in Blackrock, Ireland. Look at the colour of that grass..

Take effective breaks

Listen to yourself and find out what type of break recharges you the most. All of us are different so different types of rest works for different people. Find out your sweet spot and use it to your advantage. People do these little breaks all the time at the office but we often forget about them while working from home.

Some ideas are: outdoor walks, meditation, talking to somebody else, preparing food & tea & coffee, video games or ideally petting your animal if you have one 🐱🐶

Next time you get stuck try to get the break you love. Or just make yourself a nice cup of tea. Even if it doesn’t work life is always better with a cup of tea 🫖

Do other tasks in the meantime

Ben stop talking about breaks, I’m too busy. Well there aren’t that many cases when you can’t take a 15 min break but I hear you. See if you have other tasks that don’t require that much focus or creative thinking and do those first. This is also a good way to distract your brain from thinking about the other problem.

Next time you get stuck and can’t take a break move on to do other tasks first. But if you can take a break, take a break.

Image of a task list with task 1 greyed out

Change your surroundings

I can’t tell you how much more creative I felt when I came from Poland to Ireland. Just by changing my surrounding ideas started to flow way quicker. Try to see if you can change something in your work area. Move to a different place, different room or change some elements.

Next time you get stuck try changing the work area around you. I didn’t look it up but I’m sure it has to be scientifically proven that changing your surroundings benefits creativity.

Remove distractions

This one is obvious but so hard to achieve and sustain. Try to feel in which part of the day you’re the most productive and block the hell of that part. Set it as a deep work session of your day and remove as much distractors as you can. Try to not have any meetings, other tasks, admin work or social media browse during that time.

Next time you get stuck try adjusting your schedule. Feel what time of the day works best for you and remove distractions at this time.

Be decisive

Remember that at the end of the day your job as a web designer is to deliver a design so don't overfocus on being perfect or having 500 versions for one section. You will never produce the best work but the best work you could at the time you had. Being decisive is a huge skill as a designer.

Next time you get stuck try moving forward even if the result is not 100% satisfactory to you. It’s usually more efficient than trying to get that one thing perfect.

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