If you work at home as a freelancer, the daily grind becomes something of a redefined phenomenon. Here are some tips for keeping things creative, motivating and moving forward.
1. Make sure you have a space just for work
There were times in my career where I just plopped down anywhere with my laptop and worked there for the duration. I work crazy hours, and before I knew it I’d spent four days on a pile cushions with Pringles cans littering the floor. Don’t judge. It’s one of the perks of doing what I do. But after awhile you begin to notice the slacking in your work habits and the quality of work you’re producing. That isn’t a good place to stay. It didn’t take me long to realize that having my own work space was much more conducive to productivity. It doesn’t have to be much. Even a corner of a room will do, but delineate it enough so that your brain begins to turn on “work mode” as soon as you venture in. That’s not to say you can’t change things up occasionally, but have this anchor in place.
2. Change things up a bit
Speaking of changing things up … when you have an established routine (and that is important), you can stir the creative pot, so to speak, by introducing new variables to your environment. Sometimes a new plant or picture will do the trick. However, I like to head to my local library to work. There’s great wifi, quiet, studious atmosphere, comfortable workspaces, and an abundance of information available for perusal. I walk up there for an extra break in the monotony as well as some much needed exercise and stretching. The walk also helps my brain get thinking. I come up with some great ideas after my trek to the library.
3. Read everything you can get your hands on
I’m a voracious reader of all things blog, internet marketing, SEO, Social Media, and business related. I sign up for newsletters and download PDFs. It takes some discipline to set aside these goodies for the right time in your day, but it feeds the brain ideas, concepts, and triggers for successful projects. You may not be reading what I’m reading, but get some new perspectives and insights by browsing what you can.
4. Venture away from your usual topics
Sometimes we get so laser-focused on what we’re about that we miss great ideas that others are putting out there in other fields. I find there is actually a great deal of crossover when you explore other industries. It also helps to think outside the box.
5. Write it down
I love having a whiteboard next to me while I’m working and researching. Jotting down ideas helps me keep focused while not losing that great trigger. I also keep a planner with an actual pen. Now, I LOVE technology and prefer it over traditional pen and paper any day, but the truth is that sometimes ideas are lost in the mix of my harddrive, smartphone and online accounts. Ultimately you have to find what works for you, but my planner keeps important ideas right where I know I’ll see them tomorrow. There’s some science behind the idea of writing things down too. There’s some discussion about how writing things down may help move from short-term to long-term memory.
6. Visit Social Media … but not too much
I’m going to go against the grain of authors telling you to unplug. I agree there are times when it is vital to do so. I do it at times when I’m writing. However, social media networks such as Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr can provide stimulation and creative ideas for solving problems, getting the right look, and just sheer boredom. Boredom is a creativity killer. However, solving the problem of boredom is a creativity booster! If you’re an extrovert, working by yourself for days on end, social media can provide the necessary stimuli to keep you on your daily routine. I’m a proponent.
7. Take a moment to explore your other mediums
No, I’m not talking about visiting a fortune teller. I’m talking about other creative outlets. If you sketch, get out your notebook and try sketching that layout or logo. If you paint, try a little easel time. If you Photoshop, open her up and create something just for you. If you’re in a rut, schedule this time and let your brain go in different directions than it’s been going. I’m seriously considering getting some finger-paints to see if I can get some hands-on inspiration!
8. Keep to a healthy eating and sleeping routine
Ok, I’m not gonna lie, I don’t like this one, but it’s true nonetheless. Your body and mind need fuel. They don’t function at their best without it. I’ve been involved in projects and life situations that made this difficult, so I don’t harp on this. Do the best you can to treat your body like another tool in your arsenal. What is a healthy eat/sleep regimen? I have no idea. You’re on your own here. And there are plenty of blogs on nutrition. Ideally, I think, our diets should include variety, be as raw as possible, and sleep schedules should be regular. You know what works for you.
9. Learn something new
10. Help someone else
This one is my favorite because it works so incredibly well. Go to forums for your topic and look for unanswered posts. Answer them! Offer to create a graphic for an organization or someone whit a hobby blog site. Post a review or links to one of the sites you frequent. Help someone out of a jam you’ve been in yourself. Doing so has so many benefits to you, you’ll really be helping yourself more. Just take time out to invest in others.