5 surefire ways to break your creative block

Here you are again — fingers buried in your hair, heart racing, anxiety setting in. You're in a creative pinch, and the deadline is closing in fast.

It’s a struggle that comes with every creative job. Although it’s generally accepted that creativity can’t be summoned, there are times when you have to get something out on the table.

Here are 5 tips from our design team (+ a bonus one from our Creative Director if you make it to the end!) that will help you break through creative block any day of the week.

Take a break

It may seem counterintuitive when you’re racing against the clock, but 30 minutes of productive rest will yield you more than 2 hours of nail-biting.

All of our designers agree: if you’re feeling stuck — stop what you’re doing and walk away. Take your mind off the task entirely. Leave it for the next morning if you can. If not, a stroll around the office building will still give you a sufficient creative boost to jump-start your project.

Look at what others have done

Don’t copy & paste. Get inspired. The Internet is a big place. Scout through Awwwards, Dribbble, Behance for projects in the same market. Search for related keywords, like “construction”, “real-estate”, “food”, or “startup”.

Soon you’ll start developing a vibe for what’s a good path to move forward. Combine that with the client brief and once the spark flies begin putting it down on paper. Remember, you’re looking for a push that’ll get you going. After that, it’s all you!

Dribbble interface makes it laugh-out-loud easy to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Nudge your fellow designers

Most of them share your frustration. Hell, chances are they’ve encountered the same problem in the past! If so, you’re just a simple chat away from solving your problem. If not, your colleagues might still provide a valuable perspective.

A quick Slack message in #Design might do the trick, but we’ve found that eye-to-eye contact works better. It not only shows that you value your co-worker’s opinion but also gives them a chance to focus on your problem and help come up with a solution.

Tidy your desk

Look around. How does your workspace look? If you’ve been struggling with creative output, chances are, it’s a mess. Briefs, sketches, crumpled paper, half-empty coffee cups, notes… does it really help your process? Some people thrive in chaos, but most perform better in a clean environment.

Take some time to organize. Tidy space = tidy mind. Once you have your crumbs and thoughts in order, take a deep breath, and hit “reset”. You’ll feel an overwhelming joy only a fresh page can provide.

stock photo people working with computers

We’ve never seen these people. They don’t work here. But it looks like they’re having fun.

Stay positive

Even when your third design proposal falls flat and the muses have abandoned you – keep your chin up. The winning option is somewhere in your head, it’s only a matter of time (and attitude) until you’ll find it.

Keeping a smile isn’t necessary — no one will judge you for feeling resentment towards a client that doesn’t know better. But having faith that you’ll get through the day might actually save it.

Multiple studies have shown that temporarily tricking your brain into thinking positive thoughts increases its creative capabilities. This is not a long-term solution, but it might give you a much-needed kick up the creative street.

A quick Slack message in #Design might do the trick, but we've found that eye-to-eye contact works better.

Bonus tip: get moving!

This post was about to go out when the author had a sudden realization. He forgot to ask the person who has the biggest responsibility to keep a sharp creative mind — our Creative Director — what does she do when her creative energy starts to dwindle?

So after a brief chat, here’s a bonus tip: if your mind wants to rest, put your body to work. There’s no better way to reset creativity than working up a light sweat. Even a quick workout will release chemicals in your brain called endorphins. They not only reduce your perception of pain (which is a bonus in and of itself) but also make you feel… good.

Similar in effect to morphine, endorphins are different in that they’re completely natural and produced by the brain. If you get addicted to these chemicals and working out, well, that’s not bad at all!

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