In my previous Productivity for Creatives post, I talked about how to bring the best out of energy drained days and keep your business on track. These days are perfect for Zombie Simple tasks (repetitive and boring as hell tasks) that your normal, creative self would avoid a thousand mile away.
But sometimes these uncreative days stick around too long. You might feel fine to push your client meetings or product creation a few days later but not several weeks later. And there's also no reason to permanently switch your brain into a bookkeeping mode. No, you must gain back creativity and momentum.
This post will give you plenty of insights on how to gain back creativity and momentum after energy drained days.
JET LAG + PRE-EXAM NERVES = NOT MY FAVORITE COMBO
Last week, I needed some quick energy fixing after I returned home from Europe where I spent an adventure filled month. Not enough that I felt sad (which I always do after something great ends - I’m kinda emotional) and the time zone change knocked out my brain, me and my hubby also received our invitation for our Canadian citizenship exam. This was actually an awesome news, except when we realized that only 5 days left to prepare for the test that literally changes our life.
So no surprise that 2 days before the exam, I was a wreck. For a full day, I was useless as if my brain would have switched to energy-save mode ignoring me and my tense pre-exam nerves.
Luckily, I have some very reliable methods on how to recharge quickly. Some of them will sound totally obvious, some of them not. But before listing them, there’s 3 important factor that I’d like you to consider whenever facing a difficult time. These factors will help you make the right decision when you feel tired, so you won’t get into more trouble.
ATTITUDE, AWARENESS & ACCEPTANCE
I came up with the 3A factors (Attitude, Awareness and Acceptance) after journaling a lot about how I deal with challenges - hint: not always so well. They helped me identify the biggest obstacles, the ones usually I’ve built up for myself. Self-sabotagers, are you with me?
Understanding these factors helped me and if you are a creative but slightly messy daydreamer like me, they will help you too.
My husband loves to challenge me. He finds a weird amusement in bringing up topics that scares me like hell because they often require a frighteningly huge step out of my warm and squishy comfort zone. One of the most historic example of these, when he said “What about moving to Canada?” His employer that time offered him a position abroad and even a short visit to Montreal to see if we like the city.
My body immediately pulled into a scared and nervous ball. “How can I leave my home? How can I leave the people, the language, the streets I know so well? Why is he asking me such a thing?”
Honestly, my first answer and my attitude weren’t positive at all. But I went anyway - ‘cause I really love my adventurous hubby - and that first experience in Canada opened up my eyes. Truth is, I was always dreaming about an exciting, adventure filled life, but I needed this push to realize, my attitude showed the complete opposite.
Your attitude leads to thoughts and actions. Bad attitude leads to actions that just pull you back from progress. Good attitude on the other hand leads you to solutions, opportunities and a better life.
When you have a bad day and you decide to leave it behind, your attitude must show the same. No more whining about sleepless nights, no more “please feel sorry for me”. You are a Go Getter, girl so think as a Go Getter!
I honestly hope that some of you, fellow Creative Entrepreneurs will relate to this part because I often feel embarrassed for it.
OK, so here it is: I’m horrible in multitasking. I’ve heard a zillion times that “women are the queens of multitasking”, but it is definitely not true for me. In fact, when I’m tired, the ability to focus on multiple things sinks so low that I often can’t focus at all. When this happens, I often loudly instruct myself, like “Andi, don’t forget to check if you packed away everything before leaving this coffee shop” - and yes, this one happened all the time during my sleep deprived university years. The only thing that really helped me when I was that tired, was awareness. Weird or not, I needed those spoken instructions.
Awareness also helped me to admit my limits. Last week, on that brain-dead day preparing for the exam, I was aware that I reached my limits: there were no ways to continue studying. Instead I went to bed at 8 am and slept 11 hours straight. Next day I felt like a new person, and I could return to review Canadian history. If I hadn’t had awareness that afternoon I would have pushed myself more and I would have lost my chances for a more focused next day.
Yes, this sounds totally obvious: if you feel tired, go to bed early. But admit it: how many times have you ignored the obvious and pushed your tired self or even worse “refreshed” on Netflix? Too many times. So girl, if you are that tired that your focus is totally out of hand, it’s time to go to bed.
Girl, if you are so tired that you are barely able to focus on your most loved project, it’s time to have some rest. No one will judge you for it.
This will be hard for you, if you are a perfectionist. And many of us, creators are perfectionist, especially when it comes to our own website and brand.
On the last day before our exam, I read through the whole Discover Canada booklet and filled dozens of online tests. Historic dates and names mixed together in my memory and I knew that I could have prepared for several more days. But life gave me a due date. I prepared with the best of my abilities. I accepted where I was and suddenly I felt much lighter. “It will happen as it happens” - we told to each other with my husband and if we won’t pass the exam, we’ll have a second chance.
Accept where you are. Accept your unproductive days - and learn from them, why were they unproductive - and move forward. Those who stop to cry over their fails will never succeed.
BEST WAYS TO GAIN BACK CREATIVITY AND MOMENTUM
In the last section of this post, I’m going to list my favorite and most effective ways to refuel my body and mind, gain back creativity and leave the Zombie Brain Days behind.
Have Enough Rest
On your low energy days, give yourself some nap time and go to bed early. This helps refuel your body and mind.
Move Your Body
I noticed that on the days when I visit the gym and do cardio and weight training for about an hour, my mood and energy is way better than on days without any exercise.
You don't need to invest in a gym pass though. A 30 minute-long walk in your neighbourhood, some biking or dancing to your favorite hits can help refreshing your body. When I don’t have time for the gym, I love to use the Yoga Studio app on my phone or just go for a quick walk.
I prefer to do any kind of sports in the morning to fully benefit from the positive effects during the whole day.
Reconnect To Your Values
Sometimes what you need after bad days is just a big load of motivation. It’s hard to be always ambitious and motivated, especially at the beginning of your entrepreneurial career. What I usually like to do in this case:
- Reading back my journal: I have a journal where I write down my dream life as it would happen in present time. Reading back these entries remind me while I’m in business and what I can reach.
- Looking at my vision board: I created 3 vision boards (1 for my family, 1 for my work and 1 for my relationships) that reminds me in a quick, visually triggered way, why I’m in business. I wrote a little bit about these vision boards in this post.
- Checking the blog section on International Rescue Committee and UNHCR Canada, two non-profits I’m regularly donating to (50% of my affiliate income is donated to these amazing organizations). The refugee, famine and education problems in Africa and the Middle East is a topic that deeply touched my soul - and I usually get all-teary when I talk about it. I know that if I build my business to the next level, I’ll be able to help more people. Seeing these two amazing organizations as they help families to get clean water, food, shelter, education and medical help is truly inspiring for me. You might have a completely different cause that you found extra important. Keep that close to your heart because it will motivate you more than any revenue oriented or selfish goal.
Keep important causes and values close to your heart. You can never know when they will help you gain back creativity and motivation for your business.
Look For New Inspiration
If you want to renew your passion for your latest project, start looking for new inspiration. The new ideas popping up in your mind will definitely help leaving your zombie self behind.
My top ways to gain inspiration:
- Playing with my son and trying to see things from his viewpoint (he is 3 years old with limitless fantasy - my biggest inspiration)
- Talking to my husband about my projects - he always have a thought provoking perspective
- Listening to podcasts
- Watching TED videos
- Listening to music
- Looking at mood boards I created for previous projects or the project where I got stuck
- Calling a business friend and sharing ideas with each other
- Going on a shopping tour or just browsing in creative supplies store like Michaels or DeSerres and stores with extraordinary products (Anthropologie fans, are you with me?)
- Going to the library or bookstore (I love the Canadian store called Indigo) and check out the business, design and self improvement book section
- Checking my favorite artists’ Instagram feed
- Going on Pinterest and looking at logo and packaging projects - without any judgement and without falling in comparison trap
- Cooking something I’ve never did before
- Reading cooking and home decor magazines
- Reading fiction novels that have nothing to do with my business - you can never know which story brings back your passion or creativity
- Solving crossword puzzles
Calling my grandparents and ask them to talk about their childhood and share stories about other family members I could never met. This is actually a pet project for me, as I’m rediscovering my family roots and history, but many times my origins inspire my client projects too.
Meet Your Friends… and New Ones
I noticed that even a short phone call or a one-hour coffee date with my besties fills me with new-found energy. The empathy, inspiration and encouragement that you get from your closest friends is beyond valuable.
But what if your friends don’t really understand your business challenges? What if they are all employees and don’t really get the entrepreneurial nightmares and online business obstacles we sometimes have to face?
My advice would be to join entrepreneur groups online. There are some amazing communities on Facebook that worth checking out. In fact, I found one of my friends and business partner through a Facebook group that we were both attending - and it happened that we also lived in the same city. My favorites groups are:
Sunday Society by April Bowles-Olin: this is an amazing group of business ladies with a membership site (including monthly live calls, challenges and weekly Facebook discussions). Perfect for coaches, designers, crafters, artists and online entrepreneurs.
The Online Marketing Made Easy Podcast Community by Amy Porterfield: Amy is a pro in everything she does and the same is true in her Facebook groups. This one is a free group where she does live videos every week and answers questions related to marketing, list building, online course creation and webinars. And if you buy any course from Amy, you also get into The Insider’s Club where you get even more help and inspiration in the above topics.
Last but not least, there’s the good old Meetup community. Just get the Meetup app and check if there’s any events going on in your neighbourhood that covers your business interest. You can always find new besties, inspiration and renewed passion for your gig this way.
NOW TELL US: HOW DO YOU GAIN BACK CREATIVITY & MOMENTUM?
I hope some of these tips will refuel you and help you to leave the Zombie Brain Days behind. Do you have some other tips that helped you get over bad days? Share is with us in the comment section so we can all learn from them.
Also, The Productivity for Creative Series has not ended yet. Next time, I’m going to talk about how to create an inspiration provoking environment for the most difficult tasks. Can’t wait to see you again on the Andimaginary Creative Blog.