1. Recognize that creativity is cyclical.
Creative people work with intense energy and focus, but then step back for nurturing time. Perhaps you’re not stuck, just at rest. Use that. When you rest—truly rest. Don’t fill your time with purposeless activity just because you’re anxious about your productivity.
2. Learn to journal.
Whether you’re stuck or creative, resting or active, make a commitment to journal every day. Fifteen minutes each morning or during your most productive time of day. Journaling helps identify things that block you as well as what excites and stimulates you. Creativity doesn’t appear out of nowhere—journaling provides an avenue of discovery. Use word prompts for your journaling, keep them on little slips of paper in a box, and take one out each morning and write or draw for the entire 15 minutes. Don’t worry about quality or consistency. Don’t worry about completing thoughts. This is just for you.
Related: Rohn: Why You Should Keep a Journal
3. Be prepared when creativity strikes.1
Carry a paper and pen with you at all times, or use your phone to record messages to yourself. Record your ideas throughout the day. Record your dreams. It is an adjunct to your structured journal time and is as much of a resource as your handwritten (or typed) notes.
4. Identify your creative triggers.
If you’re struggling to find inspiration, learn from your journaling what things excite you. Schedule time to read in that area or take a class or find groups who share your interest. Perhaps your passion is more physical than mental. Perhaps it’s not directly related to your work. Make time to pursue it.
5. Structure your workflow.
Jim Benson writes of the power of personal Kanban, a technique for visualizing workflow so you can manage it. Visualization is a concrete process; perhaps use sticky notes on a whiteboard flowchart with categories: goals, projects, backlog, learning/improvement, this week, today and done. The visual aspect allows conscious decision-making about priorities. Various software products can assist this kind of process, too. Even a simple list helps by allowing you to see what is on your plate, to prioritize and to check off completed tasks. Making lists frees your mind and your energy, which allows you to focus.