Image via The Everygirl
The busier I get, the more I find that it’s becoming impossible to “shut off” my brain and actually focus on getting work done. How’s a girl supposed to be “inspired” when she’s got such a long to-do list and so little time? (And a wedding to plan!! Eeep!)
With so much swirl happening between work, personal life, and everything in between here are some tried and true ways that really help me take a step back, and find inspiration everyday!
1. Go for a walk
One of my go-to ways to give myself a mental break. Whether it’s walking to Starbucks for an iced tea, taking the dog out, or meeting up with a friend for a quick stroll through the city, take a second to people watch, appreciate the weather, notice a cute new shop you might not have otherwise paid attention to. Getting a literal, “breath of fresh air” will allow you to reset and recharge your brain.
2. Light a candle
This might sound strange, but scent is a very powerful way to change your mood. I found this study on the subject particularly interesting. Find a candle you can’t get enough of (my favorites are from Anthropologie) and light it anytime you’re feeling a little lackluster.
3. Start a routine
Develop a routine that gets you into your “work” mindset. An example could be waking up a few minutes early to read a book, making a cup of coffee, lighting a candle (see above!) and then getting to work. When you take a little bit of extra time for yourself in the morning, it’s a lot easier to be focused and productive.
4. Change your scenery
While we’re on the topic of going for a walk (point #1), you might as well just keep walking to a coffee shop, relocate to another space in the office, another room in your house, even the back porch. I often find that a location change will often bring on several new ideas and ways of thinking.
5. Book an impromptu friend date
Feeling blah? Meet a friend for a drink. Talking to someone close to me always gives me a break from work, a brief distraction, and lot’s of laughs. A cocktail or two can always get creative juices flowing. Not to mention, hearing what’s going on in my friends’ lives — good or bad — always gives me a fresh perspective on what’s happening in my own life.
6. Ask someone else their opinion
This might be the oldest trick in the book, but it works every time. Ask a coworker, peer, or friend their opinion on whatever you’re working on. This works especially well if I’m on the fence, say, about a blog post idea, or outfit I’m planning to put together. You might feel as though you’re lost with no direction, but chances are, you’ll either be quick to defend your work (sounds like you are passionate about that idea after all!) get the reassurance to tweak your direction, or scrap it all together.
7. Read or listen to something motivational
Whether it’s a book, a blog, or a website, it always helps to take a few minutes to read something motivational. Whether it’s career oriented, or just motivating about life in general. For me it could range from a chapter of Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, getting around to starting Big Magic, checking out the latest career profile on The Everygirl, or listening to one of Jess Lively’s podcasts. Learning about others’ successes is often just the kick in the pants that I need to feel refreshed and motivated about my own goals.
8. Read anything at all
It doesn’t matter what it is–reading anything at all is going to give you a break from the stress of a deadline and all that mental clutter. Some of my favorite reads include Eightysixed (plenty of good laughs), An Education, One Day, and Sarah’s Key.
9. Cook something
This might not work for everyone, but cooking can be very therapeutic. I think because cooking is just another form of creative expression–a way to be creative without having to think too much. I guess you could say, it’s one of the easiest ways to pour your soul into something. My favorite source of food inspiration always comes from Bon Appetit.
10. Get moving
Highly effective for anyone I’ve ever met. Any form of exercise will help clear your mind. I’ve gone through several stages of trying to make workouts I hated, well, “work” for me. I’m sure you can guess how that turned out. Then, I finally found one I loved–hot yoga– and have been able to stick with it. Now I look forward to it–which is something I never thought I’d say! It’s a total game-changer–it has not only made me healthier, but the mental benefits alone are pretty powerful. Read more about that here.
11. Learn to say, “no”.
Stop taking on every project that comes your way. Take more time to assess how much of your time and brainpower it’s going to take. Ask yourself if it’s really worth your efforts. If not, turn it down. By taking on too many projects, you’re over-working your brain, and compromising your productivity and creativity. Focus on doing less things, better. If you struggle with saying “no,” read my 5-step “saying no” method right here.
12. Write a list
Often times, when you’re lacking inspiration, it has to do with the fact that there are too many “to-do’s” floating around in your head. It helps to write a list to prioritize what you have to do, and give you the peace of mind that it’s all out there in front of you. Once you have a plan of attack, you’ll feel much better and able to think.
13. Throw yourself into it
Just do it. This is what I find myself doing more often than not. When I’m stuck on what to write, I just start writing. Straight word vomit on paper (or, virtual paper, if you will). Once you get the words flowing, you’ll get into a groove eventually. You don’t have to start at the beginning, if it’s easier to start writing in the middle– do that. For example, I almost always write the main points of my blog posts before the introduction.
This is true not just for writing, but designing something, writing a presentation, emails, or just jumping into a project in general. Starting anywhere will get you much closer than not starting at all.
14. Put on a killer outfit
This one sounds silly and superficial, I know. But it works. Have you ever felt ready to take on the day in sweatpants? No. Put on your favorite dress, something that you feel great in. And lipstick. Red lipstick for me does wonders, and makes me feel instantly pulled together. (Not that I needed to tell you that. I know, I’m a broken record.)
15. Organize your space
If you know you’re going to come home to a messy house (or worse, if you’re trying to work in a messy house!) there is always that nagging feeling in the back of your mind. Don’t let it weigh on you. If you can’t focus, try organizing and cleaning the house. Often times, I find this is the root of the problem. Besides, in a messy room, you likely can’t find that killer outfit to put on, a place to light your candle, or invite any friends over to chat because of embarrassment. Also see Tidying Tips for Messy People.
What works best for you? How do you find your inspiration and motivation?