Let us paint the scene: you’re sat there in your workspace, ready to make a start on a new project. It’s early in the morning, you’ve got everything set up to start some designing work and maybe a hot cup of coffee to keep you awake. No one else is around, no distractions. And yet – you just can’t work. For some reason, you just can’t push yourself to do it.
We’ve all been in situations like this in the past. Every once in a while, everyone hits a slump that can feel impossible to get out of. Writers get writer’s block, designers get designer’s block. Even if you love graphic design more than anything else in the world – and can’t imagine a version of your life where you aren’t doing it – you’re guaranteed to hit a snag at some point. It’s natural.
Whether you’re in a bit of productivity slump at the moment or just want to be prepared in case one hits, we’re here to help. If there’s one thing we’re committed to, it’s helping you do more (heck, it’s even in our name!) We’re going to be honest: there’s no strict formula for solving ‘designer’s block’, but we’ve got a few ideas that should at least help a little bit when it comes to getting over a rough patch. Here are our top tips on how to stay motivated as a graphic designer.
We know, we know – you’re probably shaking your head in complete confusion after reading that header. ‘Become more productive by procrastinating?’ Ridiculous, right?
But don’t close the tab and dismiss us just yet – trust us when we say that we know what we’re talking about. Procrastination may seem like the mortal enemy of productivity, but research shows that it can actually help boost your creativity. When you’ve hit a wall on a project and don’t what to do next, taking some time away can be incredibly helpful. Giving yourself some space from whatever you’re stuck on can help you chill out a little bit and think of a new way to approach things.
Go for a walk. Catch up on that TV show everyone’s talking about. Read a book. Go to the beach (actually, probably not, considering that we’re in England and it’s winter!) It doesn’t matter what you do as long as it isn’t related to the project. You never know how much doing something else might help you out – maybe you’ll see something on that walk that causes you to rethink the project completely? Additionally, not doing work is a great way to motivate yourself to get work done. Whether you procrastinate for a couple of minutes or a couple hours, eventually you’re going to feel motivated to get on with things again.
Do Something Else Productive
If we didn’t manage to convince you that procrastination can be good for you, then you could try productive procrastination instead. Basically taking time away from the current project you’re working on to do some other work instead; whether it’s another graphic design project, going grocery shopping, putting some laundry on or something else completely.
If you’ve set time aside to be productive and get work done, it can be hard to commit to doing unproductive stuff – like we’ve suggested. So, if you do something productive, you can avoid feeling guilty about not getting any work done. Makes sense, right?
Do Some Bad Work
If we didn’t lose you when we suggested procrastinating, there’s a chance we might lose you here instead… But trust us – bad work can be good. To steal some common writing advice: the first draft of anything you do is bound to be bad. As it’s often said, ‘writing is rewriting’ – so surely ‘designing is redesigning’? When you’re starting on a new project it can be helpful to avoid moderating yourself as you go along… Let yourself go wild! Explore every idea and impulse you have, no matter how silly, and see where it leads.
Trying to make a piece of work perfect from the beginning can be a hopeless task. It’s an easy way to put too much pressure on yourself and ensure that you’ll burn out and get stuck sooner than you would otherwise. Even if you’re pretty deep into a project, doing bad work can still be a great way to get over some designer’s block. Going on a weird creative detour might provide an unexpected answer to whatever you’re stuck on, or it might just make the path you need to take all the more clearer.
Go Somewhere Else
It’s impossible to overstate how helpful a change of scenery can be. If you’ve been bunged up in your home for the past few days trying to get some work done, going somewhere else can really bring some new perspective. Like we suggested before, you could go for a walk, or you could go and get your work done somewhere else completely.
Take your laptop to a cafe with free wi-fi. Not only might you find some fresh inspiration in new surroundings, but it could help you feel a little less trapped. Just order something to drink and take your time on the project. Listen to the sounds around you or stick on some headphones – you make up the rules! If cafes aren’t really your thing, then you can always go outside instead. We’re serious! Go back to basics, grab a pencil and some paper and get some work done in the park. The natural world is simply brimming with inspiration and there’s no telling how helpful a bit of fresh air can be.
Set Small Goals
American author Robert Collier once said, ‘Success is the sum of small efforts.’ And we agree with him. If a current project seems insurmountable (and you can’t possibly see yourself ever getting it done) try to break it down in any way you can. Now, instead of one huge task, you have a bunch of smaller ones – a lot better, right?
Tying into this idea, rewards can be helpful as well. If you shook your head at our suggestion relating to procrastination earlier, then maybe you can work those bits of unproductiveness into a rewards system? Set yourself small goals and then each time you meet one reward yourself in some way. Whether it’s with a snack or watching a bit of a TV episode, it can be a great way to motivate yourself. Work is important, we get that, but enjoying yourself is too! It’s a great way to allow yourself to slack off a bit without feeling guilty.
So, what do you think of our suggestions? Do you plan on giving any of them a go? Let us know by connecting with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Now get out there and Do More!