Maintaining Focus and Creativity at Work

Still haven’t figured it out? It may be easier than you think.

If you’re working in a creative-centric occupation — whether or you’re a painter, writer, designer, strategist, engineer, street performer, whatever — you likely rely heavily on your focus and creativity. Even the best of us occasionally lose sight of this and find ourselves floundering about in a sea of disarray and frustration and it feels like a brick wall to our productivity.

While there are those of us who are awesome at mitigating these occurrences, there are also those of us who suck at it. To those of us who suck at it, you don’t have to live this way. There are methods to significantly decreasing the frequency of these occurrences — you’ll be much happier. It might even surprise you to find out, most of these methods require very little effort on your part. Just a bit of recognition and will to enact change in your personal workflow.

Disconnect. Take time out of your day to break away from distraction — that means technology and distracting environments. Allow yourself at least 15 minutes of disconnect time. Block off that time in your calendar so that you may enjoy it uninterrupted. Take this time to really listen to your thoughts without the distraction of outside noise and influence.

Break your routine. The simple act of rewiring the way you do things often exercises your brain in unexpected ways. You might even learn something new about yourself. Perhaps you could — Wake up earlier, watch the sun rise. Instead of taking the bus, walk to work. Break a social barrier, compliment a stranger. Normally write in print, try cursive for a day. The idea is to bend the way you normally think and behave in a typical day.

Write down your ideas often. Don’t let ideas slip through the cracks. No matter how big or small, good or bad the ideas seem, it is always good to keep a notebook handy. While these ideas may not be immediately important or relevant, but it is always good to have a reference to go back to at a later date. This can help you keep track of your thoughts and recall them when they are more relevant.

Take breaks as often as you need them. Step away from your desk as often as you need to. Take a walk around the office. Go get a coffee with co-workers. It’s far too easy to feel as if you have no time in your day to take a break or you forget to. But the truth is you get more done taking the breaks, than forcing your brain to think up a solution on demand.

Manage your own time. Don’t let others manage it for you. No one knows the best use of your time better than you. Determine what are immediate needs and what are less immediate needs. If you need a priority list, build one. Set realistic and digestible goals for the day. This could vary on your mood and disposition. Biting off more than you can chew can be detrimental to your productivity and can lead to some pretty damaging decisions.

Be well and take care of yourself. This applies to both physical and mental states of being. Invest heavily in your health and happiness. Having a healthy diet and getting a good night’s sleep can make the difference. You can accomplish much more whilst you are happy and healthy than if you force yourself into unhealthy habits.

Keep your workspace tidy. The simple act of keeping your workspace tidy and clean can prevent you from being distracted by outside elements. An organized workspace encourages organized thoughts.

Keep in mind, these tips are not definitive solutions to everyone’s unique problems and roadblocks. You can expand on these methods, bend them, and break them as you will. The point is, there are basic solutions to problems and while they may not be immediately apparent, it is a good idea to recognize when you find yourself getting into unhealthy ruts more frequently than normal.

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