How To Bust Through That Creative Block

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It seems like every time we turn around, some new product is going viral! Whether it’s the fidget spinner craze from 2017 (7 years ago!!) or the recent Stanley Cup craze, we promo product professionals want to be on the up & up and try to hop on the train as quickly as possible. But what about when your customers want something brand new and never before seen?

Sometimes, those ideas can come to you faster than we can say, “Promo rocks!” Other times, you can hit a mental roadblock, and just like highways in Dallas, it seems impossible to get through.

I totally get it; as a writer, I get writer’s block. Sometimes, my ADHD gets in the way. And sometimes, embarrassingly enough, I stare at an open Word doc, just willing the words to come.

But deadlines wait for no man!

With deadlines looming, how can we perform regularly when stuck in a rut? While I may not have all the answers, and my head is stuffed with random facts, I also have a list of foolproof ways to get out of that rut!

1) Don’t Be Hard On Yourself

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of it, I want to take the time to point out that it’s okay to be stuck sometimes! Remember to be gentle with yourself, and give yourself some grace. You’re only human, and humans aren’t perfect. And as much as we think we can leave our personal life stuff at the door when we walk into the office or turn on our computers, lots of things can occupy our minds, which sometimes means that creativity gets squeezed out to make room for other things.

It took a long time for me to learn not to be so hard on myself and to give myself a little bit of grace when I’m struggling to write something. To help combat that, I have a “you’re worth it” folder on my desktop. I store screenshots of the absolutely lovely things my coworkers have said about my work. I’ll go through that when I’m in a particularly rough period, and it reminds me that this little slump I’m going through won’t last, and I’m still doing a really good job – no matter what my brain might think. 🙂

2) Learn What Works Best For You

I’ve been doing this for a really long time, and in that time, I’ve learned some tools that work the best for me when I’m having a hard time getting inspired, motivated, or even focused!

I’m very lucky that SAGE allows me to work from home, which allows me to make adjustments that work for me. I like to call this following the dopamine. Listen to your brain and note what in your environment or routine gives you the best boost in your creativity/productivity. While I work better at home, I have a coworker who works better in the office.

It’s a good idea to ask yourself some questions to learn about what works for you:

What time are you most productive?
Does certain music keep you focused?
What lighting is the best for you?
Do certain foods/drinks add to your productivity?
Do you like to work in a warmer environment or a cooler one?

3) Take Breaks!

One of the reasons why working from home works the best for me is that I feel like I can take more breaks than when I’m at the office. If I’m feeling stuck or my focus has run out, I will get the mail, take the dog for a quick walk, or do some chores like the dishes or start a load of laundry. If you’re at the office, taking your lunch away from your desk might be a good idea, whether that’s in your car or even in the break room. Even stepping outside for a few minutes to get some fresh air can be beneficial!

4) Gather Some Inspo!

Okay, so this might be a bit taboo, but I think it can be (if you can limit yourself) beneficial to scroll through social media during the day. Whether it’s the ‘gram or Pinterest, scrolling through your feed or the suggested posts can perk something up in your brain!

When I’m working on a guide or a mini dive, and I’m a little stuck at coming up with some products, I’ll hop onto SAGE Online and browse. Sometimes, I like to search for the weirdest thing I can think of to see if it’s in the database. Plus, while I’m scrolling, something might catch my eye, and I’ll have a lightbulb moment!

5) Rabbit Hole

Let’s be real – “research” is kind of a boring term. I prefer to say that I’m going down the rabbit hole! The best way to tap into this is to take an idea or a singular topic and then hop on in and follow the lead!

A professor once told me that the best way to get inspiration for their clients was to research everything they could about that industry. Read a Wikipedia page, check out industry publications or blogs, use social media like Reddit, and check out industry Subreddits or even industry tags on Instagram or TikTok. I mentioned our guides and mini-dives before – these are industry-specific and can help you gain some inspo, too!

I hope I could help you get through that creative block! To check out more ways to boost that productivity, check out our other blogs here!

Authors Note: This blog was previously posted in May 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and clarity. 

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(Marketing Content Writer)

Betty is the Marketing Content Writer at SAGE. She is a self-proclaimed, bonafide nerd, and when she's not writing, you can find her playing video games, watching documentaries, hunting for heavy metal records, and going down rabbit-holes on Wikipedia.

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