How to Get Creatively Inspired—Insight In How I Work

Being inspired can sometimes be very tough, and at other times more natural. You are probably familiar with the feeling of wanting to squeeze that perfect idea out while you are sitting at your desk. But it just won’t come out. Then you become very frustrated and annoyed. You might give up the project altogether. 

The truth is that waiting for inspiration to come while sitting at your desk in front of the computer can be one of the most unproductive things you can do.  

Our brain needs a break from the screen, but it’s like we are telling ourselves—if I’m not inspired now, when will I ever be? 

We all have our own processes to go through in our creative pursuits. What works or doesn’t work is up to the individual. I have changed my process a lot of times—including the creative phase where you have to generate ideas or concepts for a particular task. You might go through the same thing, and is now looking for ways to optimize how you can come up with ideas.

1) Work within sprints and take breaks in between

When coming up with ideas for projects I love to work proactively and not passively. Meaning I would timebox myself for around 90 minute. I have found it to be super helpful. It forces you to focus on the task at hand. 

Don’t focus on perfection here. Whatever comes to mind, get it out. To make it even more effective is to put your phone far away from you to avoid any distraction. When the time is over—take a break from your screen.

You can repeat this process as many times as needed. The catch here is to proactively work towards a solution, and not waiting for the inspiration to come down at your fingertips. Most of the times that won’t work. And taking breaks is vital for your brain to process.

This is not something new I have invented—it actually something that I found on Instagram on The Futur’s page.

2) Leave your desk and be inspired

You have probably heard it before. Leave your desk and go outside. And you’re probably thinking to yourself why would I do that? The problem is when you sit too close to the screen, and the things you are trying to solve—you can become too narrow-sighted.

As mentioned before. Taking breaks is vital for your brain to process information. Let it wander. Do something else to stimulate your brain. That could be playing video games, going somewhere scenic, exercising, reading comics or books etc.

All these stimuli will help you see the problem from a different angle. It's like seeing things for the first time with fresh eyes. While doing the other activities—try to see if you can connect it to the problem you’re working. It’s a fun thing to do. 

There's a book called Think! authored by Tina Catling and Mark Davies. It has helped me immensely when it comes to finding ways of stimulating our brain to creatively come with ideas.

I also have written a review about it that you can read here to get a feeling about it

3) Let your subconscious take over

One of the most powerful things I have tried is to use my subconscious mind to come out with ideas. 

Ideas come and go, and they appear at peculiars moments and places. Have you ever experienced when closing your eyes, and your mind starts to come up with lots of ideas that you couldn’t come up with at your desk. 

For some others it might be while they are taking a shower—or when exercising. 

When ideas start to appear. Don’t ignore them. Either write them down or doodle them. You will thank yourself later. Sometimes we are not even aware that our subconscious is taking action. And we will lose that opportunity to dig some gold up. 

It can take some practice to unlock the subconscious mind, but when it really starts to kick in. You will be amazed about the ideas you can come up with. 

I have worked on a project where I would do two focus sprints and call it a day. In the meantime I would stimulate my brain by either reading books or taking a run outside. Sometimes when I run the ideas start to appear in my mind. 

You can watch this video with Chris Do talking about unlocking your subconscious. I’m not going to lie. I was super excited after watching that video. So I hope that it also will bring you much value in your proces—you can see it for yourself.

Find what works for you

At the end of the day. All of what I just told you might not even work for you, and that’s just totally fine. I just wanted to share the process of how I get creatively inspired.

The common factor for how I work is not to passively wait for the ideas to come down—rather proactively work towards ideas to solve a particular problem, but also taking breaks from work.

Let other activities stimulate your brain so you can tackle the problem in a different, and more exciting angle.

Think! by Tina Catling and Mark Davies - Book Review

Introduction

A big yellow headline that says Think! followed by the text How often have you said: “What a great idea… how did they think of that?...This book shows you how” really caught my attention when I found the book on my father’s shelf. I knew right then and there that I had to read it. 

Front cover

The book Think! is authored by Tina Catling and Mark Davies with 20+ years experience in marketing and have worked with some of the largest advertising and marketing agencies in the world, including Saatchi and Saatchi and Ogilvy and Mather. 

Think! isn’t just your average how-to book which talks just about the theories and thought processes of creativity. It’s a book of inspiration by combining the usage of thought-provoking text, images, design and color that makes the reader more engaged with each page and acts as a stimuli for the brain.

A page from the book

Not only that—what’s also included in the book is poetry, quotes, art, cartoons and stories of interesting individuals such as Sir Tom Farmer whom I haven’t heard about before. But after reading his story—I can see now what made this person so special when it comes to creativity. 

A page from the book

A Deeper Dive

The book is packed with great content which ticks every creative’s curiosity to dive deeper. With a solid of 8 chapters ranging from how we as creative people can challenge our lazy mind to how the physical state of our body can affect our creative thinking.

It challenges our current way of thinking—when was the time we really thought about our processes, systems or products—could they have been done more effectively to save time for the business? Do we actively think or are we just dwellers of our own lazy mind?

A page from the book

My favorite part of the book

It filled me with so much enthusiasm that I don’t know where to start. There were many parts of the book that I enjoyed. But I’m only going to mention one of them as an appetizer.

It’s a story about the company Outside the Box visiting the entrepreneur Sir Tom Farmer as an additional prize for winning the award Investors in People. To make a long story short — in their meeting with Sir Tom Farmer he asked a question after welcoming them and listening intently about their business.

“ What do you think is the most important question in business”? 

And as they were searching for a perfect answer for his question—he replied back with:

“What do you think?—that’s it. That’s the most important question in business”. 

At first I was a bit surprised when I read that part—so I actually went and read it again. His answer was so simple, yet carried a profound meaning. We have to actively think—and learn about what other people think. As Sir Tom also said: “The bigger a company gets the dumber it gets”.

Some big companies can be so restricted and limited to procedures and standards that it might lead into a work culture that hinders creativity, innovation and active thinking—especially if the company's structure and hierarchy is complex.

A page from the book

Main key takeaways

To conclude I will share some of the things I have learned from the book: 

I recommend this book to anyone who likes being creative, but might have a hard time coming up with ideas—especially in a fast-paced environment where you have to produce results constantly. You will find this book valuable and inspirational when it comes to stimulating your brain.

You can buy the book at amazon.co.uk and amazon.com