You wake up in the morning feeling ready for the day. You walk to the bathroom whistling, brush your teeth and hit the shower. It’s going to be a good day. You’re feeling incredibly great and refreshed as you step into clean clothes. The birds are chirping outside your window, and as sun rays flood your room, you are ecstatic – ready to conquer – ready to be awesome.
After breakfast, you’re out the door (or you take to your working desk if you work from home), but as soon as you get to work, you’re an empty shell. You can’t bring yourself to start work on that project you’ve been putting off for three days straight. You feel the walls closing in, and you start feeling drained and uninspired. Anxiety might set in at this point, especially if the deadline is coming up fast.
What could be the problem? Why can’t you get your early-morning mojo back, and put in some real work? What brings the feeling of defeat that chips away at your motivation, reducing it by the second? What is a web designer to do?
Don’t you worry my friend, we have you covered. In our serving today, we are going to show you how to stay motivated – how to keep your creative juices flowing – so you can achieve more, and start living your dreams.
If you’re ready, here’s point numero uno:
Start Your Day with a Great Meal
Through out the night, your body burns calorie after calorie, meaning your energy reserves are depleted come morning. If you start work on fumes, there’s only so much you can achieve before burning out.
Don’t dare skip breakfast, it’s – as you should already know – the most important meal of the day. Also, don’t eat the same damn breakfast every morning, mix things up but always ensure you get the requisite nutrients; vitamins, proteins and carbs.
You will feel great and achieve more when your stomach is full. And please try to cut down on alcoholic beverages in the morning, you know, if that’s your style. Caffeine is a great pick me up, and can jolt your system into hyper-activity especially if you had a busy night if you know what I mean.
Say NO to Distractions
We live in the era and time of gadgets and apps and whatnot. Our days (especially the mornings) have been reduced to notifications, buzzes, ringtones and alarms. We have different notification tones for our various apps and devices, such that when one goes off, it’s nearly the impossible thing to resist checking what’s up.
What we forget so many times over is these sort of distractions eat away at the very core of productivity. For instance, this morning I spent about one whole hour on Instagram only. Did that improve my bottom line? Hell no. Did it improve my moods? Hell no. I might have laughed a couple of times, but that’s it. Then I realized Instagram will eat into the rest of my day, and went back to my plan, which introduces our next point.
Have a Plan
Most times, I start a project with a shred of an idea, and as soon as I write the first paragraph (or code the first few lines) I can’t bring myself to stop. I keep going on and the result always astounds me.
I know it might sound surprising but even after mapping the entire post (or design project), the nifty details that make the most impact come while working on the project – not a second before. Such is creativity – you will never start with the end result in mind, at least in my case.
What helps though is having a plan. What is it that you wish to achieve today? How many projects do you need to complete before dusk? Have a plan, or rather an idea of how your day should start and end. Prepare your plan before going to bed or immediately when you wake up. You can even do it in the shower, so yeah, there’s no shortage of time.
Please don’t plan your day when having breakfast, because, well, you need to concentrate hard enough to enjoy every flavor that comes with every bite/sip.
With a plan in mind, you will know when you’re getting distracted. You will know when that friend who showed up as you hacked away at your keyboard is a distraction. You will know when to say no to Instagram and funny cat videos on YouTube.
Without a plan, anything – and I mean anything – you do will become the plan. All those distractions can seem great when you’re not committed to a solid plan. Another thing, don’t over-complicate things. Don’t take yourself too seriously to a point of creating a military battle plan. Create a simple plan that helps you move towards your goals – even if it’s all about completing just one project a day.
With the plan guiding you every step of the way, there’s nothing to stop creativity from kicking in whenever you’re working. Because, again, you have to start working for the juice to start flowing. It does not work the other way round.
Go Out on Weekends
Which is just my way of telling you to take breaks and go get some sun, smell the flowers and feel the zephyr on your face. Please don’t miss lunch because, firstly, you need the sugars to remain active the rest of the day, and secondly, you can’t force your way when creative juices dry up.
A break rejuvenates you while making your work seem more fun, which is as important as the job at hand. You get to meet other people, even in passing, and laugh and/or share a quick snack at the cafeteria.
If it’s your kind of thing, take the entire weekend off, and spend it however you want. Just make sure it’s refreshing and avoid work-related duties like checking work email and that sort of thing.
You can even use the time to reflect on your goals and overall progress, and as long as you’re relaxing, you can draw inspiration from anything in the vicinity. You just need a few minutes of relaxation to notice the surroundings, from where nature is ready to provide inspiration, but you can’t get those minutes when you’re working your arse off. Take a break, and get inspired.
Fall in Love
That’s right, fall in love with someone or something that’s not work related. The love of a woman, a man or a pet can have a significant impact on your work and on you as a person. Spending time with the people (and animals) you love and care about can be stimulating to say the least.
They can give you a reason to want to achieve more. They can be inspiration for your next project. They (applies to people only) can help you brainstorm. They can be so many things, but boring, simply because you have love going on. Boring is exactly what you want to avoid to remain creative.
Look at the lives of the people who have created some of the most creative works, be it painters of days gone, musicians, designer et all, and you’ll realize their lives were/are full of love.
Don’t isolate yourself, unless of course when you’re working. Open up and let the world in, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. And don’t hold up that “I don’t have the time” placard, because I just might – in Agent Hobbs’ voice – break it six different ways and stick it right where the sun doesn’t shine.
You will create your best works when you have overflowing love in your life. It has something to do with that cause-effect law of nature. If you give out more love, you will ultimately get more love. So dish it out mate, give more love to others, to your pet, and more importantly, to your work. And you won’t even have to try hard.
Think and Think Some More
There’s this notion doing rounds that people in creative fields (that means you and me) don’t think much, you know, like meditate. They, or rather we, just follow our hearts, and bam, a new work of art is born. That’s a big lie, a myth even, that I very much want to dispel this moment. And you’re going to help me by…
Taking time to think and rethink your ideas. Keep meditating and thinking about your ideas and goals. Keep working that head of yours, and cooking up ideas on the fly. If you want, you can write down the ideas – each one of them – in an idea book, but just keep thinking up ideas and you’ll never run short of creative juice.
Don’t be afraid of testing new ideas, as in their expression, whether they are successful or not, you will find even more inspiration. Remember Thomas Edison, and how he allegedly failed a 1000 times before finally giving us the light bulb? Inspiration gives rise to more inspiration, and as long as you keep your grey matter active, you’ll be the golden goose. Or Simpleton. Or the princess.
Draw Inspiration from Others
There’s a well of inspiration out there for when you’re really stuck. The well never dries, even when your juice done turn into dust. If you are just a tad curious, you can seek out inspiration from whence it hideth simply by checking out what other designers have created.
Don’t copy any design though because that would make you a fake. It’s illegal too. Instead, check out other designs just to “feel good” about great design. Enjoy the designs and seek to learn from other designers. Then sleep on it, and come the next morning, you won’t have to wrack your brains for hours on end to get your very own original idea.
It might be an improvement, an adjustment of some original work by another designer, or an amalgamation of several works – but as long as you haven’t copied the design code for code, it’s your own original work. And that’s what counts. So check out other designs, and then let your subconscious mind do the rest. It works, this subconscious mind thingy. You just give it a try. After all, you have nothing to lose.
Just Do It
I have a feeling I have already touched on this but let’s give it some more fuel. Don’t sit around waiting for the right moment to arrive. Don’t wait for inspiration to strike, because it never will. Instead, just start working whether or not you’re ready. Start whether or not you know what you’re doing.
Have a project you’ve been putting off because you just didn’t feel like it these past few days? Overcome that feeling of fear and self-doubt and just work on it. This works in two great ways.
Firstly, once you start working on your design project, creativity will kick in and follow through to the end. As I’ve already said, I have a feeling I touched on this already. Secondly, it is easier to complete a project that’s half-way done than a project you’re yet to start. Just do it – stop being damn lazy, and write the code.
Variety and Artists and Musicians
Do you know why a 9-5 might make you want to pull off your hair? It’s the monotony baby. It’s the monotony that sucks, not the bad coffee or the crazy rush hour traffic. People in 9-5 jobs that involve variety have a great time – they look forward to each day. The guy who enters the same lines of data to the same damn computer every same day with the same bad coffee, will definitely find a reason to skip work.
It sucks big time, and its the reason why people have fake sick days, rush home as soon as it’s 5 o’clock, and ask for paid vacations and whatnot. When you have variety at/in your job, you will never be bored, and if you’re never be bored, you won’t feel like malingering and wasting time.
See how musicians, actors, and artists seem to work all the time, at times even late into the night? They are working all the time because they’re having fun testing their skills on various projects. Monotony is unknown to them, so they can afford to work longer, which means more fun, more inspiration and more money for exotic trips and the works. Well, some of these jobs pay way better than office jobs, so yeah, that’s something else to keep in mind.
Mix things up. Work on a new project. Learn a new skill. Exercise variety.
Love Your Dream Job
Perhaps you went to design school because your folks made you go. Perhaps you became a web designer because there was nothing else for you – you needed rent money. Perhaps this, perhaps that, but if you don’t like what you do, you’ll continually be at war with your discontented self.
Creativity will evade you like people used to avoid lepers, and you will suffer all alone, and end up sacrificing your life for a web design career you hate. I know you’re a designer because you’re on this blog, but if you feel inside yourself – deep, deep inside yourself – that you weren’t cut for this trade, it’s time to put the tools down and get a new job.
Your well-being and happiness, to us, is far much important than trying to make ends meet in a career you have no passion for. This is especially true if you’re a freelancer. It can be challenging building your design business from the ground up, and inspiration might be rare to come by. Follow your heart, and if that leads you to fishing, or football, or better still, web design, so be it.
Love web design only if it’s your dream job, and creativity will always be at your beck and call.
On that note…
I put my pen down, hoping I have inspired you just enough to find your own inspiration. For I’m just but a messenger, and the best thing I can do for you is help you to find your own methods of keeping the creative juices flowing. If you can’t do it, or feel that I said lesser than necessary, the comment section is now open to you. The floor is all yours, so please wow us 🙂