Kathryn Marr is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Blue Ivory Creative, a digital marketing company based out of Nashville, TN. A graphic and web designer, as well as social media manager, she brings a passion for entrepreneurship and creativity to the table. Kathryn loves helping people pursue their dreams and be successful doing what they love to do.
Have you ever had anyone tell you, “Be creative, now!!” I have. Maybe not in so many words, but the intent is definitely still there. You see, I’m a graphic and web designer, as well as a small business owner. My days are incredibly busy, and I have deadlines to meet every single day. But it can be difficult to be creative on someone else’s schedule! Sometimes, the “creative juices” just aren’t flowing.
Today, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite ways to gain inspiration when you need to be creative, fast.
1. Get outside My husband, Luke, and I own our business together, so we make it a priority to get outside for even a few minutes every day. We’ll take a quick walk around our neighborhood, throw around a ball or Frisbee, or head out to one of our favorite parks when we have a little more time. This accomplishes two things:
First, nature is truly an inspiration. There’s something about the Tennessee hills, beautiful trees, and animals running around that helps me be more creative. Sometimes, I’ll try to get out to Centennial Park in Nashville (where I live) and just work from there. It’s a great break from the monotony of the office.
Secondly, exercise is wonderful for your brain! Physical activity frees up your brain, and helps you connect ideas and be more creative. Plus, it releases endorphins, which increase oxygen in the blood and help relieve stress. And we all know that stress is not good for creativity!
2. Color This will take you right back to your childhood! There are so many amazing adult coloring books out there that will stimulate your brain. One of my favorites is Secret Garden – the designs are stunning and there are fun games hidden throughout as well.
There’s definitely something out there for you! From tattoos to cats to coloring pages specifically designed for meditation, spending a few minutes coloring will do wonders.
3. Listen to music Music has infinite benefits for your emotions, your mind, and your creativity! You see, listening to music allows your brain to enter “mind-wandering mode”, in which your mind flits from thought to thought rather than being focused closely on one task. This is when the majority of our creativity happens, when that brilliant ideas just “pop into your head”.
This is exactly why you should make time to listen to your favorite music. Upbeat music has been found to be most effective, but could be anything from “Uptown Funk” to a Beethoven symphony. That’s up to you! But you do need to make sure that you’re experiencing the music, rather than listening to it while working.
4. Sketch No, you don’t have to be an artist to sketch! Trust me; my skills lie in designing on a computer, not on paper. But spending a few moments just drawing is a great way to spur creativity. Try drawing out whatever pops into your mind at the moment - shapes, objects, people – whatever! Or you can try one of these activities designed for creativity.
5. Journal Writing can be a wonderful way to spark creativity and relieve stress. Try writing down whatever you’re feeling, or brainstorming about the project or topic that you’re working on. Or, try one of these exercises to get the ideas flowing.
6. Browse design online When I’m struggling to be creative and working on something for a client, my go-to source for inspiration is Pinterest. Sometimes, I’ll just browse through everything under “Graphic Design”; other times I’ll search something specific, like “Modern Logos”. Some of my other favorite sources for inspiration are:
- Logo Design Love
- The Inspiration Grid
If you’re still looking for creative inspiration, check out these 70 blogs for creative inspiration. You’ll find everything from photography to interior design!
You could also consider using a tool like Feedly to save the latest and greatest from all the blogs and sites that you love. You can save entire blogs or even a specific topic, so that everything that inspires you is all in one place, updated constantly.
7. Turn everything off This is one of the biggest things that I struggle with. Turn off your phone, your computer, your tablet, your TV…everything. Take a few minutes of time away from all the technology and read a book, play with your kids, work out, meditate. This can be such an amazing relief from all the things that you have to do and the projects that you have to finish. It’s essentially a mental reset for your creativity.
8. Take a quick nap Napping can be a great way to wake you up and restore your creativity. But it’s important to be aware of the ways in which the length of your nap can affect you. A 20-minute nap can enhance alertness, concentration and mood. A 90-minute nap takes you through a full sleep cycle, can help you recoup sleep you may not have gotten the night before, and can aide in enhancing your creativity.
You definitely don’t want to sleep between 45 to 90 minutes. If you do, you’ll wake up in the middle of a sleep cycle and will be groggy. So either stick to 20 minutes, or go the full hour and a half!
9. Take a shower It may sound a little odd, but I always come up with my best ideas in the shower. A warm shower does several things. It takes you away from the stress of everything, freeing up your mind to be more creative. It’s relaxing, so your dopamine levels are increased. And it’s distracting, giving your mind the freedom to wander. All of these things combined leads to enhanced creativity. Plus, who doesn’t like feeling clean?
10. Play a game This is another one that will take you back to your childhood. Spend a little while playing a game! It could be any kind of game – a board game, card game or crossword puzzle – but the key is to do something that stimulates your brain! Getting your brain moving without focusing on the stress of your upcoming projects will help you come up with a lot of great ideas!
So all of these things sound great and simple. But you have to be willing to put down your work for a little while to spend the time doing them! Trust me; I know how difficult it can be to spend time doing anything other than working when you’re schedule is packed! But, ultimately, it allows you to be more creative and saves you a ton of time in the long run!