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.