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Combating Boredom in Creative Work

Today I wanted to touch on the topic of feeling uninspired or bored with creative work and how we can each combat this. 

New family traditions consist of admiring natural beauty in a seaside town where roses grow up the side of an historic brick building.

Sometimes, it’s just not there. We start a new project only to realize that spark has fizzled. The excitement is gone. The inspiration is flat and lackluster. 

Here’s a little secret, though: Creative work needs to be nurtured just as much as a relationship does. 

When boredom strikes, we need to kick up our efforts to intentionally try to make it more interesting to endure. And quite frankly, there will be some times when it won’t be as fun. Especially if you feel like you’re doing the exact same thing day in and day out, day after day. This is normal. But it shouldn’t feel like this all the time for long stretches. (You should still enjoy it overall!) 

Like any job, your creativity can quickly lose its spark… No matter how much you once loved it. Monotony can kill a good vibe.

But it doesn’t have to…

Here are some things I like to do to combat boredom in creativity when it strikes. Whenever I feel uninspired I like to remind myself of the power of doing these five things. Incorporate them in as needed. Hopefully you will reap the same benefits I do!

5 Ways to Combat Boredom in Creativity

  1. Switch up your environment
  2. Change your schedule
  3. Do something joyful to start each day
  4. Test a new approach or technique 
  5. Try out a different creative medium

Switch up your environment

One way I keep things a bit more interesting on my writing days, which can often be long and arduous, is to switch my location. Some days I write in the office, other days I type away as I lounge on the couch, in warmer months I may sit on the patio, and occasionally you will find me cozied up in the corner chair of our master bedroom. 

Even when I had to report to work in person, I would vary my location from my office desk to an empty meeting room or even to the lobby near the coffee bar (yes, I had some pretty cool perks working at a trendy publishing company).

Every location sets a different tone. Some days I just need a change and others I have specific needs. Some days I work better as I’m resting with my feet propped up. Other days, I know I need more focus and force myself to sit in the office with the professional tone it sets. Every day will be different. Regardless, if you can, switch it up. I promise it helps more than you realize.

Change your schedule

In addition to switching up your location, you can also experiment with changing up your schedule. Now, if your work schedule is more rigid (especially if you work for someone else) this can be tricky. I won’t presume to know how the company you work for operates. Oftentimes, we have to operate based on others’ schedules and deadlines. 

However, if you can find a way to even switch up your schedule a little bit each day, try it. 

For example, if you’re more productive and alert in the mornings, use this time to create content/sketch/paint/whatever it is you do for creative work. You have to find a way to complete creative work when you feel most creative. That doesn’t mean you won’t ever have to force yourself to keep going when feeling uninspired. It just means you have to set yourself up for success by being consistent in doing the creative work at specific times of day when you operate best. That’s just working smarter.

If you find that you still have to do more business-oriented tasks in your position, try to put those toward later in the day. These are important, but you may be able to do some of these tasks while on auto-pilot mode. Especially if they’re tedious in nature. 

Mixing up your schedule, in and of itself, can shift your focus and give new perspective on big projects or more detail-oriented tasks. 

Do something joyful to start each day  

Before you even get into work mode, is there something you can do at the beginning of the day to get you excited? Something that feels like a mini reward just for getting out of bed? 

All I know is as soon as I started my 30-minute sketch-and-handletter morning routine (coupled with a cup of joe), I began getting out of bed much quicker each morning. I had a new routine to look forward to. I started my day doing something I enjoyed and was curious to learn more about, and I also had some coffee during this time to wake me up. This was brilliant for me and helped me start my day sooner and get excited about the little things the day (and life) had to offer. 

For you this could mean waking up a little early to enjoy a home-cooked breakfast, alone in silence, before the rest of the house stirs awake. Maybe it means dedicating 15 minutes to reading a book before anything else that day. These small, significant tasks make a huge impact. They can really shift your mindset and make you feel a bit more grateful for the day ahead.

Test a new approach or technique

This one more specifically relates to your craft. Try a new technique that you’ve never used before. If you paint, dabble in watercolor painting instead of oil paints for a day or a week. Even if you can’t work this into your actual paid creative job, try doing this in your free time. Not only will it help you gain new skills, it will build on previous ones. It will be more interesting and you’ll find yourself more curious (rather than judgmental) about your work. 

Here are some more ideas I have for this one: 

  • Start using a quill pen instead of fountain pens for calligraphy
  • Paint with random things found in nature instead of using artist brushes (some of these may work more like stamps but you get the picture)
  • Try different types of cookware or tools in your cooking/baking 

Try out a different creative medium

It only makes sense to nurture your unique talents and gifts, especially your creative ones. Especially if they relate to your paycheck every couple of weeks. People are interested in experts, not those who dabble in a little of everything, right? It makes sense to hone those one or two things you’re really good at. 

But are you missing out on a whole entire world if you restrict yourself to just a couple of things? Are you staying true to yourself by rejecting any curiosity you might have towards similar or maybe even completely different creative outlets?

I think we should explore all the creative outlets we are interested in. Even if we get no monetary value or extrinsic reward from it. 

Try to cultivate a new relationship with a different area in your creative work. If you’re a writer, try your hand at photography one day. If you usually draw, try taking a pottery class. 

The point is to get out there to try something new and different. Get used to not being good at something and being okay with being a beginner again. This sense of exploration can ignite a new passion. It can also help iny our typical, day-to-day creative work, no matter how vastly it differs from this new adventure.

There is no harm in trying new things. We were not made to be restricted. We are not meant to restrict our pleasures, interests, and what we feel drawn to. Set yourself free and try something else. You  may find you are naturally gifted at it or that you just love it because it’s fun. 

Final thoughts…

Also worth noting: It is okay to be bored on occasion. Take a break and return to your art later. Visit an art museum, read a good book, or listen to an inspiring podcast in the meantime. Or take a nap even. Heck, take the day off to recharge. Rest is a powerful tool that successful people use.

It is okay if you aren’t always 100% when working, in fact that would be abnormal. Embrace the changing feelings you have about your creative work. Try to implement some of these ideas. And when all else fails, do something else for a little while. 

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