10 Ways to Stay Creative While Working From Home
Working from home is a dream come true for a lot of us. We get to choose our own hours, spend more time with family, work in our PJ’s if we want to and can even take an unplanned day off! But as awesome as awesome as working from home is, it can seriously affect your creativity at times.
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Working at home alone, day in and day out can take its toll. You find yourself unable to concentrate, the quality of your work starts slipping, and every idea you come up with seems contrite and unimaginative. In short, you lose your creative spark.
Luckily, there are a number of ways to keep your creativity intact.
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1. Take your work outside
If you’re feeling the walls of your office close in on you every time you try to concentrate, it may be time for a change of scenery. If you have a backyard, a front porch or even a balcony, consider taking your work outside. The fresh air, the hustle and bustle of your neighbourhood, or even the quietness of it may be what you need to revive your creativity.
If you live in an apartment, and don’t have access to any of the above, then head to your nearest park or coffee shop. Combine the fresh air with people-watching and your head will soon be brimming with ideas and possibilities! If nothing else, you’ll come back home feeling a lot better than how you were when you left.
2. Get your hands dirty
Spending an entire day coding, designing, writing, editing or Photoshop-ing can take its toll. If your work is starting to swim in front of your eyes, it may be your brain’s way of telling you to take a break. Spend some time doing something with your hands – well, something other than moving your fingers over your keyboard. Instead of typing words and hitting commands that stopped making sense hours ago, step away from your computer and do something else.
Cook a meal for yourself and your family. Instead of hurrying through your lunch or dinner, take the time to enjoy it. Colour. Use crayons, paint or markers. Even if you just stencil your name, taking 30 minutes to create something with colours will relax your brain and give it something new to focus on.
If you have a garden or house plants, take the time to weed and water your plants. Pot a plant if everything’s tended for. Any gardening fan will tell you how rejuvenating working with plants is. Sometimes, doing something with your hands is just the boost your brain needs. Your creativity will thank you for it.
3. Work on a personal project
We all have a project or an idea for a project that we’d love to do if we ever had the time. Well, with your creativity fried, now is the time. Nothing boosts creativity like working on a project you’re personally vested in, even if it is something like reorganizing your office space. And you’re passionate about your personal project. You want it to be perfect. This project is what you want to stop doing everything for.
Nothing boosts creativity like passion. So start working on it. Your passion and enthusiasm for the project will take care of your creativity. Before long, you’ll be bursting with positive energy and ideas, and you’ll will want to work again!
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This is by far the toughest thing to do. But it’s also the most effective. Exercising is the one activity that is guaranteed to improve your overall mental well-being. So not only will your creativity be boosted, but you’ll feel more energetic, positive and healthier too!
If you don’t exercise, it is definitely time to get moving. Even if it’s as simple as doing Pilates at home, get your bums off the chair and onto an exercise mat. For those of you who already exercise (notice how I don’t include myself in the already exercising group?), it might be time for a change in the form of exercise you do. If you use a treadmill, head out for your run. If you run outside, try cycling or swimming or hiking.
Anything that gets your body moving is a guaranteed way to boost creativity.
5. Stop and ask ‘What’s wrong?’
Stop! Stop doing whatever you’re doing right now. Whether it’s browsing, checking email or answering the phone. Now ask yourself why you’re not feeling creative. Is something stressing you (apart from your lack of creativity)? Is there something bothering you? What aspect of your personal or professional life feels off-balance?
Once you’ve pinpointed the problem, try and figure out how you can solve it. What can you do to make the situation better? Your problem may not be something that can be fixed immediately. But finding out what’s wrong and acknowledging that something is wrong may be all you need. You’ll find yourself feeling much ‘lighter’. You’ll be able to concentrate on your work too!
Meditation is a great way to relax. The simple act of concentrating on your breathing can significantly reduce stress. You don’t even have to leave your chair if you don’t want to. Just turn off every ‘screen’ that’s on, close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing. Inhale and feel the air move through your body. Exhale and imagine all your stress leaving your body.
Of course, mine is a very amateurish take on meditation but focusing on your breathing really helps. There are plenty of excellent meditation resources that you can refer to online. Find one that suits your work schedule.
7. Take a nap
If this is the first time your creativity has deserted you, then a nap may be all you need. Quickly go over your routine for the past month. Have you been going to bed on time? Getting enough sleep? Peaceful, uninterrupted sleep? If the answer is no to any of those questions, then a nap is in order.
Your nap can be anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours. It really depends on the needs of your body and the time of the day. I wouldn’t recommend taking a 2-hour nap at 5 pm!
If a nap is out of the question, focus on going to bed on time (or even earlier) to catch a little more sleep than you usually do. In a few days, your body would have recovered and your brain would be back to its fully functional creative self.
If a project has you stumped creatively and you’re wondering what’s wrong with you, here’s something you probably haven’t considered: The problem may not be you. Not all projects are created equal. Sometimes we need help. If you’re unsure on how to proceed on a project or can’t come up with ideas, then seek help from a friend.
Collaborate with another freelancer or even hire a consultant if you can. Two pairs of eyes are always better than one and two brains bouncing ideas off each other can be just what you need to get back in the groove of things.
9. Create a virtual water cooler
Loneliness is a very common feeling among people who work from home. While office workers long for some peace and quiet to work in, freelancers who work from home long for just the opposite. If you work alone from home, then I’m pretty sure there have been times when an entire day has gone by without you uttering more than five words.
If you haven’t found yourself in good company in a while, then remedy the situation. Call a friend, a sibling or even your mom and talk to them. Skype with somebody in your field who also works from home. Join a small online forum, start tweeting, anything that gets you to interact with people.
This helps you create a virtual water-cooler not unlike those found in traditional offices that are a hotbed of gossip. The good thing with a virtual water-cooler is that you pick your own people and topics of conversations. So get talking to people and feel your creative mojo come back with every conversation you have.
Laughter boosts creativity. Even the monsters in Monsters Inc. found it to be true! So who are we to argue with a Pixar cartoon? If you’re feeling stuck and uncreative, watch your favourite comedy movies and shows. Whether it’s the movie Hangover, the television show Big Bang Theory, or a medley of funny children and animal videos on Youtube, get watching!
Me? I’m going to go watch some Monty Python right now and give myself a much needed creative boost.
If you need more tips on how to increase creativity, check out:
- 7 Ways To Increase Your Creativity
- Beating Designer’s Block: 5 Tips To Get Back Your Creativity
- More Creative posts.
Have you ever found yourself in a creativity slump? What’s your favourite way of boosting creativity?
Author: Samar Owais
Samar is a freelance writer, blogger and social media enthusiast. She offers rock-solid tips for freelance writing success on her blog The Writing Base or SamarOwais.com and can be found on Twitter talking about writing, freelancing, productivity (or lack thereof) and travelling at odd hours of the day.