Stuck in a Rut? 5 Ways to Jump-Start Your Creativity
Millions of Americans are still feeling the effects of last weekend’s record-breaking “Snowzilla” blizzard, recently ranked by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as the fourth worst snowstorm to hit the East Coast in more than half a century. And today, seven days later, we’re still reeling. I think I can safely speak for the masses here in Washington, D.C. when I say quite simply: We’re over it.
School closings and cancellations, communities still plowing side streets and clearing out cul de sacs, and snarled traffic all week long — it’s enough to make anyone feel stuck in a rut. And while it’s never fun to feel stuck, it got me thinking about the parallels we can draw to our work as professional communicators, constantly mindful of the need to keep our ideas and thinking fresh.
Just in case the winter blahs have also got you feeling in a rut, here are five tips for jump-starting your creative juices, courtesy of the C.Fox team:
1. Change your physical location. Getting out of your seated position by standing or walking around forces a cognitive shift. At the C.Fox office in Bethesda, we have a “community standing desk”, which you’ll find folks working from at different times throughout the day to keep those creative juices flowing — especially during those “I-need-a-boost” right-after-lunchtime hours.
2. Pet a dog. (Seriously!) When you feel good, you’re more creative, and studies have shown that the simple act of quietly petting a dog for just 15 minutes produces an influx of “feel good” hormones that benefit both the human and the dog. (Great news for our Chief of Staff, Baxter Fox, who’s been known to enjoy ample scruffs from Yours Truly on a regular basis for this very reason.)
3. Get down to a kid’s level. This is a mantra of the working parents on our team, especially during these past few days of entertaining little ones indoors. Literally get down on the ground and try seeing life as a toddler would, or take a seat, “criss cross applesauce”, and take in the sounds and sights of the world around you. Seeing the world through a child’s eyes can do amazing things for your creativity.
4. Rely on a little help from your friends. At C.Fox, when a member of our team sounds the “help, I’m stuck in a rut” alarm, we assemble what we call a “Big Think” — an all-hands-on-deck, rapid-fire, creative brainstorm session. Once we assemble, we hear everyone out: no idea is a bad idea. Then, collectively we whittle away at all of the concepts on the table until the best “gems” form. It’s amazing what we can come up with in 60, or even 30 minutes, of concentrated creativity.
5. Turn the problem on its head — quite literally. Our own Carrie Fox has been known on more than one occasion to break out into a headstand when she’s feeling stuck and looking for a good idea. If you’re equally daring, I encourage you to try this one too. Studies show — and yogis agree — that getting that blood flowing to your brain gives you a great energy boost and a whole new way of thinking how to tackle the problem!
We still have a ways to go before spring makes its glorious appearance (51 days away as of this writing, but who’s counting?) But this doesn’t mean you have to let winter blahs wreak havoc on your productivity. Next time you feel stuck in a rut, try at least one of the tips above, and you’ll be surprised at how soon your creative juices start flowing.