5 Tips for Staying Out of a Reinvention Rut

“Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvellous” — Bill Moyers

The productivity paradox occurs when investment in information technology results in decreased employee productivity.

Why?

Because time is required to reach competency and bridge an efficiency gap with new change. In reinvention we hit a similar wall when we’re learning and hustling with little results initially.

According to Noel Burch, the Four Stages of Learning are:

  1. Unconscious Incompetence: “I don’t know that I don’t know.”
  2. Conscious Incompetence: “I know that I don’t know how to do this, yet.”
  3. Conscious Competence: “I know that I know how to do this.”
  4. Unconscious Competence: “Did I do something well?”

The sweet spot for getting shit done is 3. Conscious competence. We know what we’re doing and execute well. During early reinvention we’re at stages 1 or 2 with focus on continuous learning and growth hacks.

So how can we increase time to competency and overcome creative slumps?

A. Habit

“I Only Write When Inspiration Strikes. Fortunately It Strikes at Nine Every Morning” — W. Somerset Maugham

21 days is the time conventional wisdom believes it takes to form a new habit. Recent studies show this is closer to 66 days.

Whatever the timeframe, the key is consistency. I’m able to get inspiration, find material and write weekly because its become routine. Consistency is formed through stages of habit formation:

While our brains are wired towards routine and certainty, it also draws itself to challenges. Excitement is created through achieving difficult tasks or acquisition of things not within our possession. Ever felt that little rush when you’ve kicked ass at something tough? Yup. Our reward centres make challenges appear attractive.

Having an organised routine is quoted by Alison Hill as vital in standing out and getting creative juices flowing.

So keep a schedule to create, learn and produce. Sprinkle it with an element of excitement and exploration such as a new hobby to activate different areas of your brain and curb a rut in its tracks.

B. Pomodoro Technique

Have 45 minutes of flow state work and 15 minutes break time within each hour. Why does this work?

  • Work with time not against it
  • Eliminate burnout
  • Manage distractions
  • Creates better work/life balance

Optimal brain concentration is 10–20 minutes so breaking things down into smaller units means time dedicated to tasks is effective and assists creativity.

Experiment with different variations of flow work and break at different times of the day. I’m productive in 45–50 minute blocks in the early morning and sometimes late at night. This is due to an undisturbed environment allowing creative production of output.

C. Take Time Out

You may think I’m an advocate of 16 hour days and Rihanna’s “Work Work Work” from many references to ‘hustling’ and “grinding” here.

It’s true whether you’re building your own empire or wanting to learn a new skill or get into a new field. However the key is balance.

Good Life Project’s Jonathan Fields quotes success as a writer is “often due to the times I’m not writing”. Similarly 10xTalk’s Joe Polish and Dan Sullivan talk about “free” or “buffer” days as crucial in boosting productivity. Free days aren’t just deserved but makes them better at what they do.

Creativity arrives when least expected. Sitting for 2 hours brainstorming may not generate game-changing ideas. I get most of my light-bulb moments freely in flow at the gym, in the shower, with loved ones or at aerial silks.

What helps your creativity is to be healthy in all aspects of life and allow the creativity to strike; often when most needed.

D. Change Your Environment

I give myself one day a month to explore the outdoors or somewhere new. Research shows nature is extremely beneficial in keeping mindfulness and boosts creativity and productivity.

If you’ve ever felt restless sitting at your desk at hours on end you know what I mean.

Every Thursday I write new posts at my sister’s house and have specific agendas other days at home and ‘free’ time on the weekends.

Changing your environment doesn’t just pertain to the outdoors. What else can you do?

  • Stand up and stretch
  • Walk across the floor to your colleague instead of emailing or instant messaging them
  • Employ in-office exercises (just be aware of the expressions you may receive from colleagues!)
  • Use your break time from the Pomodoro Technique to go for a brisk walk
  • Have a walking meeting
  • Work from home, at a cafe (if you can keep in flow) or use a standing desk

D. Focus on possibilities not problems

Having a low head space kills creativity and keeps you in a rut. Perception shapes reality and therefore if you shift your mindset, things around you change.

I’ve felt overwhelmed and stuck with new growth hacks and learning to optimise others. A good way of getting myself out of a negative spiral is to focus on possibilities not problems.

Raising your vibrational frequency stops the spiral going further. I ask myself “Do I want to be a person of change or a person of challenge?”.

Move your language from “but” (negative) to “and” (inclusive) and possibilities seem to appear and challenges appear smaller.

What else can you do?

  • Have a progress partner: A mentor, friend or colleague who you check in with regularly. Accountability and timeframes help execution and ideation.
  • Try to make your “down” periods fun and productive: Trying to career pivot? Don’t know what to do next? Perhaps stepping sideways or learning a different skill or passion may help the creative flow.
  • Seek inspiration from other activities that give your a reward-centre boost: Whether its bikram yoga or learning handstands.