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We’ve all done it at some point, hit the proverbial wall where thoughts begin to mesh together into one jumbled pile. Where are answeres come slower because it’s taking us longer to process information. Where the list for the day seems too long and that feeling of overwhelm leaves us not even knowing how to start. Where we’ve taken a seat to write… And crickets.Thank you Aveeno® Active Naturals for sponsoring this conversation as a collaboration with Socialstars! #Aveeno.
So what do you do to get out of the slump? I’d love to open this up to discussion and conversation, because too many times, this happens at the most inconvenient of times and doesn’t leave much room for creativity to flow or our words to pour out… and usually it’s when we most need (or want) them to. Below I’ll share what usually works for me, and I’d love to hear your ideas, or your tried and true rituals to break the block.
So this might not be something new, but stepping away from what seems overwhelming is one of the best ways to clear my head and get a fresh perspective. Get up and stretch, go for a brisk walk outside (research proves that exercising outdoors stimulates our minds), get your body temperature up a bit, because our minds tends to go into exercise mode when your heart rate elevates and it will wake you up and refresh you significantly. While you’re up, take that little jaunt to the kitchen and get a big drink of water… dehydration can sap your concentration too. Use your time to away from the computer (what I usually work/write on) to do something to get your mind in the game.
Prioritizing breaks so that you can rest and recharge will actually lead to better productivity and a higher quality level of work. I know that when I give myself some time off, I come back prepared and ready to take on whatever tasks are in front of me, and the work I put out is so much more productive and enjoyable. It’s amazing how a break can bring you completely new perspective and energy.
Okay, full disclosure: I hate talking on the phone. I know hate is a strong word, but I’ve always felt this way. I’ve never really been a fan. But sometimes, getting over the hump and making the call… Well let’s just say I feel so much better on the other side of it. Although for me, taking it up a notch would be to text a friend to meet up and then chatting over coffee (or chai tea). Studies show that after only 20 minutes of drinking a cup of coffee, our brains are more alert and creative, making better and faster connections.
Finding a way to take the conversation off of you and focusing on something else for a bit (or taking time to help someone else!), in a new and different environment is the little boost you may need. Let your environment and conversation inspire you to knew and different ideas. And then, you could even spill a few beans about what you’re working on and let your friend weigh in on the matter.
As a busy mom, most of my “work” time ends up being in the evening, after my kids have gone to bed. I will say that the plus side to this arrangement means that we set a schedule and bedtime for the kids early on that has helped them become great, usually-twelve-hour sleepers. The downside? I may (and by may, I mean often) start a project while tired and end up in a sleepy rut. I know when I’ve hit the place of “candles being burned” and know that no work I put out at that point will be better than taking a few winks and starting again with fresh eyes. Yes, sometimes there are deadlines that just have to be pushed through, but usually, there is enough time to wait until you can give it 100%, or at least about 85%. We’re not doing anyone any good by spending more time on a project while giving less to it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started a post only to close up halfway through because the words aren’t just coming together, and once I wake, the blanks just fill in easily. Get some sleep and come back rested and refreshed.
If you’ve been around FMB for any length of time, then it’s no secret that I retreat to the shower for “thinking time”. It’s seriously the place many new ideas pop into my head, solutions arise and conversations or thoughts even get sorted and worked out. I know it sounds a little crazy, but it’s true. I’ve even said that I need a waterproof notepad so I can jot it all down… I almost always come out of the shower with at least two new ideas!
Find your place, learn to recognize where you are when you start feeling alive, when your mind begins to defog or ideas begin to swirl. If you don’t know where that is yet, then borrow mine and see if that helps. Take a shower or a good bath, suds up, take a deep breath and let it go.
A few tips: find a body wash that makes you feel great! I know when I feel good, I’m in a happier place, and using a more natural, holistic approach while letting my cares wash away makes me feel great! For the last few months I’ve been using Aveeno® Daily Moisturizing Body Wash which helps replenish skin’s natural moisture while cleansing and I love it… so does my husband, we’ve both been using it because it’s gentle enough for all skin types. When we really want a peppy and refreshing shower we add Peppermint essential oil to our body wash and/or shampoo to stimulate those feelings of being awake and alert! So take that break and sing in the shower, listen to music while you take a bath or close your eyes and let the water run over your head, you’ll feel considerably more alive.
We all do this one, and even though I know better, I still do it! Focus is such a integral element of creativity. So do less, better!
Research actually shows that multitasking with electronic media caused a greater decrease in IQ than smoking pot or losing a night’s sleep! I think that in itself would be enough for us to actually close our email inbox and put down the phone while we work. The best way to do this is in set chunks of time. Take just 20-30 minutes and completely focus on your task at hand… no email, text, phone calls, other browsing or surfing allowed. At the end of that time, take a short break like we talked about and get a drink of water, play music, walk or stretch for a couple of minutes and then set your timer to focus on the task at hand again. Get your most important tasks done this way, distraction free. Repeat each step three times for a focused session and bust through your to-do list! This way, you’re actually working proactively instead of being reactive.
Take notice of what time of the day you feel the most alert (for many, it’s morning), and dive in to your most important projects then. I’m personally forcing myself to take more breaks and intentionally focus on one thing at a time while working. It can be difficult to schedule in little pauses and breaks throughout the day to refresh and unplug from work, but our bodies need these breaks and it’s absolutely key to working smarter, not harder.
So, comment below and share ONE thing you are going to do today! And if you have any tips for me, tell me… I look forward to reading your response!
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