"...from my experience I did my best thinking when not under pressure…." - Stefan Sagmeister
Rest and relaxation are important for creativity and productivity/
Just as we need to take regular breaks during our everyday life to optimise productivity, alleviate stress and tiredness, so we also need downtime from our creative projects.
Taking breaks from creativity can help shift your thinking from habitual thoughts.
For many years, Bill Gates took a twice yearly Think Week in which employees, friends and even family were banned.
Fiona Apple took six years off from performing before releasing her album Extraordinary Machine in 2010, stating that “I realised that after six years of not doing this kind of stuff, it doesn’t define who I am, and I’ll be just fine without ii…”
Every seven years, designer Stefan Sagmeister (who has designed album covers for Loud Reed, The Rolling Stones and Jay Z, among others), closes his New York design studio for a whole year in order to rejuvenate and spend time experimenting. Although he continues to be creative during this year, he has no clients.
And he’s strict about it, too. He turned down an opportunity to design a poster for Barak Obama’s campaign while he was on sabbatical.
The Rolling Stones, Bridges to Babylon by Stefan Sagmeister:
Of course, not everyone is in a position to take long periods of time off work for various reason, but if you can afford to take a day off your creativity or even just a few hours here or there, try.
Creativity will still be waiting for you when you get back.
Capture ideas, read, take notes, but don’t create!
Don’t think of being idle as a vice when it comes to creativity.
You will probably miss being creative, but you will go back to it feeling refreshed and with a clear head.
You may even find after a creative break that in retrospect you may have been spending too much time at creativity, working at it at a level that was detrimental.
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'You Can Create! 24 ways to Unlock Your Creative Potential!'
Sometimes, when we get stuck in a creative rut, it's often the simplest advice that can help. Below are quotes from some of history's greatest painters, writers, entrepreneurs, scientists, etc. guaranteed to give you a sharp shift in your thinking.
If you find one that catches your attention, considering copying it out and keeping it in a place where you can see it daily.
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” - Pablo Picasso
“When I say artist I mean the one who is building things … some with a brush – some with a shovel – some choose a pen.” - Jackson Pollock
“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” - Vincent Van Gogh
“Art doesn’t have to be pretty. It has to be meaningful.” - Duane Hanson
“I am interested in art as a means of living a life; not as a means of making a living.” - Robert Henri
”Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.” - Steven Pressfield
“Art is the act of navigating without a map.” - Seth Godin
“Don’t try to be different. Just be good. To be good is different enough.” - Arthur Freed
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” - Oscar Wilde
“Be yourself — not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.” - Henry David Thoreau
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” - Steve Jobs
“Sometimes you gotta create what you want to be part of.” - Geri Weitzman
“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.” - Ray Bradbury
“I invent nothing, I rediscover.” - Auguste Rodin
“If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing.” - Marc Chagall
“Find something only you can say” - James Dickey
“The scariest moment is always just before you start.” - Stephen King
“Work like hell! I had 122 rejection slips before I sold a story.” - F. Scott Fitzgerald
“An artist cannot fail; it is a success to be one.” - Charles Horton Cooley
“You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star.” - Friedrich Nietzsche
“Truly creative people care a little about what they have done, and a lot about what they are doing. Their driving focus is the life force that surges in them now.” - Alan Cohen
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” - Maya Angelou
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” - Walt Disney
“People often remark that I’m pretty lucky. Luck is only important in so far as getting the change to sell yourself at the right moment. After that, you’ve got to have talent and know how to use it.” - Frank Sinatra
"It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” - Albert Einstein
“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” - Muhammad Ali
“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” - Stephen King
“It is not enough to be busy… The question is: what are we busy about?” - Henry David Thoreau
“Success is often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.” - Coco Chanel
“Focus on being productive instead of busy.” - Tim Ferriss
“Lost time is never found again.” - Benjamin Franklin
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” - Benjamin Franklin
“You don’t need a new plan for next year. You need a commitment.” - Seth Godin
“You see, in life, lots of people know what to do, but few people actually do what they know. Knowing is not enough! You must take action.” - Tony Robbins
“There is no substitute for hard work.” - Thomas Edison
“The only way around is through.” - Robert Frost
“The way we measure productivity is flawed. People checking their BlackBerry over dinner is not the measure of productivity.” - Timothy Ferriss
“To make something great you must do the making.” - Ryan Holiday
“The more nervous and scared you are, the better it bodes for the project.” - Ryan Holiday
“If coming up with ten ideas sounds too hard, then come up with twenty.” - James Altucher
“You can’t find your passion if you don’t push through pain.” - Jeff Goins
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” - Paulo Coelho
“Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.” - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
What is a Vision Board?
Vision boards (sometimes known as dream or inspiration boards) are a simple, effective and valuable method of visualisation.
A vision board is a collection/collage that consists of inspirational images of the future you want, and represents your dreams, goals and ideals life.
The idea of them is that when you are surrounded or faced with the images of who you want to become, what you want to achieve, the life you want, the job you want, etc., you change your life in order to match what is on the board.
The classic version of vision boarding is to gather pictures, quotes, ideas, etc. and collect them on a bulletin board.
Usually made from standard cork or poster boards, by collecting visual representations of your creative goals in one place you can see them frequently and be more inspired.
When it comes to vision boarding for creativity, physically seeing the type of things on a daily basis you wish to achieve is highly motivating.
If you write, collect quotes from writers, poems, book covers, etc., if you're a photographer, collect photos or photos of people, places and textures that inspire you.
Make a Vision Board
- either a cork bulletin board (at least A3 in size), a poster board or similar (you could also consider making a digital one at Pinterest or Milanote.
- pins, sticky tape, etc.
Collect anything that inspires you, don’t be afraid to use different textures or three dimensional items.
Collect from magazines, postcards, Google image search, websites, newspapers, etc.
For some examples, click here.
Display it where you can see it regularly.
Every time you see something that inspires you, collect it.
Be specific - design the future you want for yourself.