Find a quiet place
Tapping into your creativity takes periods of uninterrupted concentration. It can be hard to get to this place if you are constantly distracted. When you are working on a project that requires you to focus, it may become necessary to set aside some time for it. Let your team know you are taking time to focus on a project. Make sure you chunk out the time you need on your shared calendar. If you are able to, step away from your desk and find a quiet spot to work. If you are tied to your desk, set up a sign that says Do Not Disturb, or any other witty sign that will keep people from distracting the creative process. You will get a lot more accomplished in a shorter amount of time if you give yourself this focus time.
Carve out empty moments
Relaxing and empty moments are when our brain is able to make connections between unrelated things and find interesting insights. People often say that their best ideas happen while they’re in the shower. Probably because this is one of the only places that offers a relaxing and empty moment for most people. Since the invention of the smartphone, people tend to fill every empty moment scrolling through feeds or catching up on news. Stop doing that. Take those small moments to let your brain wander. You might be waiting in line at the grocery store when it suddenly hits you how to solve that creative problem for the campaign you kicked off last week — all because you weren’t looking at your phone. You won’t get paid overtime for this, but it will be worth it because it can save you a lot of frustrating, creatively-blocked hours at work. If you don’t think you can handle the grocery store line without your phone, make sure you are carving out time during your day to let your mind wander. Take a walk or jog, do yoga or meditation — whatever works for you.
Sketch! On paper!
When you kick off a project, it’s tempting to jump right into working on your computer. Technology allows you to search images quickly, create digital mood boards, research inspiring blogs, and collaborate with fellow artists with online review tools. You should absolutely do all of those things. But before you do, start with pen to paper. You can burn through ideas fast when you sketch, and your brain can be free to go a million different places in a short amount of time. The computer will only slow down your creativity at this point in the process. After you pick out your top five ideas out of the million that you sketched out, move your process to the computer.
Hopefully someday we will find the perfect balance and learn to live in harmony with tech. Until then, every day is a struggle to not let those technological distractions get the best of you. How do you stay creative while being surrounded by distraction? Share your tips on staying focused and creative by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.