Need a Creativity Boost? Less Is More
You heard right. Sometimes the best way to refill your creative well is by taking a step back.
If you feel like you’ve been spinning your wheels without getting anywhere lately, it may be time to stop working so hard. By actually doing less, you may free up some mental and physical space, allowing your creativity to bloom and making your days more productive (and less stressful). When your life is filled to overflowing with things, events and to-dos, the busyness tends to crowd out calm, contemplation and creativity. Here are 10 ways to make a positive change.
- Think less. When you have a million things on your mind, it is impossible to focus on just one. Practice taking a mindful minute to refocus yourself at certain intervals each day. Using a routine you already do as a cue (like making tea) can make it much easier to remember to do this. You don’t need any special equipment or skills to practice mindfulness — simply focus on your breathing and notice your thoughts as they occur, without holding on to any of them.
2. Take fewer photos. When you can snap dozens of photos with your digital camera in a few seconds, it’s easy to accumulate way too many not-great shots. Why not try focusing your mind on what exactly it is you want to capture before shooting, and limit yourself to a single shot at a time? Restraining yourself will help sharpen your eye, resulting in better photographs over time.
3. Spend less time at your desk. Raise your hand if you spend a lot of time at your desk daydreaming, shopping online and reading blogs (basically, doing anything but work). If that’s you, don’t beat yourself up — we all do it! It’s not natural for your body to stay seated and your mind to stay focused on one task for hours at a time. Get up, go outside, take a walk, make some tea or call a friend. Do something different to shake things up, and you can return to your desk refreshed and ready to get to work.
4. Surround yourself with less stuff. Clutter in your immediate environment can distract you and even pull down your mood. Clear away the excess and tidy up what’s left — be ruthless, especially when it comes to your workspace and creative areas.
5. Offer fewer options. People get overwhelmed by too many options — so rather than offering everything you can think of, narrow it down to the best you have. In your personal life, doing what you can to limit choices is a good way to stop frittering away energy. Keep recurring shopping lists and favorite recipes so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time. Curate your business and your life.
6. See fewer people. We all know that being too isolated is not good, but something you may not hear as often is that some alone time is actually vital to creativity. While certain projects work better in a group environment, with everyone contributing ideas, sometimes it is best to retreat to your corner and think things over on your own. In your personal life, make sure you are giving yourself enough alone time to revive yourself and refill your well between activities and social engagements.
7. Do less research. Do you overresearch? I admit I do! And while it is admirable to want to find the very best of whatever it is you are seeking, there is a time when enough needs to be enough. Overresearching leads to burnout and wasted time.
8. Spend less money. Sometimes when we are feeling less than inspired, the allure of a new product, book, article of clothing or gadget can seem like a quick fix — when actually, more often than not, making do with what you have leads to more creative solutions. Make it work!
9. Spend less time waffling. If you find yourself going back and forth over a decision you need to make, step back and do something else instead. Once you have all of the facts, making decisions often comes down to a gut feeling — and gut feelings are much easier to listen to when you are feeling fresh. Go away and commit to making a quick decision when you come back.
10. Do only one thing at a time. Don’t multitask; unitask! Jumping from one project to another frazzles the brain and makes it more difficult to sink deeply into your chosen topic. Take things one at a time and allow yourself to focus completely.