Are you also suffering from a creative and productive block? Or perhaps you have done so in the past? If neither of the aforementioned applies to you it’s certain that you will suffer from it at some point in the future. Don’t let this reality hit you in the back and pull you down. Rather grab it by its horns and say to yourself: What can I do to make these facts work in my favour?
“Whatever is worth having is worth fighting for”
Whenever I feel down due to a lack of productivity or creativity, it has a tendency to negatively influence my confidence. I start to ask myself questions like: “Will this really work out?”. “Have we taken on too much?”. “What if…”. These are the most UNPRODUCTIVE questions that you can ask yourself and will not help you to move forward. I know this out of experience…
Though to get yourself back on track is and will always be easier said than done. I like to focus on the saying that “whatever is worth having is worth fighting for”. If you concentrate on the immense satisfaction of having worked something out, it will most likely give motivation to continue the fight.
Ask yourself the right questions
One way of changing the downward trend is to start to ask yourself the right questions. One example is the one in the first paragraph: How can I turn this in my favour?. Another approach is to ask constructive questions that identify the source of your frustration. Maybe you realise that to work in a co-working space is not at all your thing. You need to have silence and calm around you to be productive and creative. No people, no music, just you and your work gear. Or you realise the complete opposite. That for you to get your thumb out of your ass you need others around you that can push you to perform.
For me it is the former that is the most accurate. Especially when I am at home with family, I can very easily get distracted… Of course I want to have a “fika” with my parents. Yes, I want to play tennis with my brother. And YES I want to go for a walk with Charles. The more people around, the more potential distractions. It seems like an easy solution is just to start to say no. I don’t even think they would mind if I didn’t join in on everything. But it is as if I have created this block within myself and I need to figure out how to break it.
Fewer titles, but more things to do?
It has been a few weeks, perhaps even months, that I have been telling myself that I want to get back into writing. I have started numerous writing projects (which are all still on-going and uncompleted…). One of those projects is to start blogging on a regular basis again. When we first launched our website I was a full time student, embroiderer, and worked extra as a nanny and still I managed to keep a regular posting schedule. My mother also runs her own business as a seamsdress and oftentimes recognised how much she got done when she had a lot of things to do. It’s true, when you have a lot of things to do and feel slightly stressed (but not too much), you get more things done. It is as if you’re set on optimising your time at every task.
Today I am still a full time embroiderer and entrepreneur, but I am not a full time student or work as a nanny… What changed? I got less things on my schedule and therefore became unproductive? Not really, this is where the aforementioned theory fails me.
Even though I have fewer titles, the to-do list just keeps growing longer. What really changed was that I am now in full control of my deadlines. There is no one else who tells me when I have to hand in an essay or when to pick up their child. All my years in school I was always the annoying student (to everyone else) that finished homework a week in advance. I just hated to not be able to do something fun last minute. By being a bit ahead of schedule I always made sure to have some space for last minute activities. However, this strategy doesn’t work the same when you’re running your own business.
When can you turn off?
One key difference working on your own business, is that many tasks are never quite finished. There is no limit as to how much research for potential partners, collaborations and marketing strategies you can do. Frankly, you can even argue that the more the better. At times this feels very overwhelming. Especially in cases where the business is primarily based on internet. Yes you can turn off your phone and computer in between to have a break. But can you really afford that at such an early stage in the business? Charles and I have both started to take walks without our phones to have these everyday mini-breaks. It has helped immensely. Though we are yet to take the step of turning off the phone for a full day. Maybe next year… or the year after that…
Let’s do it next year
Next year is not good enough. I have come to realise that if we want to succeed we have to take care of our mental and physical health from day one. Otherwise we will go under by the time the business is self-sufficient (which by the way no one knows how long time it will take).
In an attempt to overcome my temporary blockage (a block SHOULD NEVER last forever!), I have decided to implement more concrete deadlines. When we started our podcast two months ago, we quickly saw how having a deadline of posting every Friday helped us a lot. (You can read more about our first lessons from hosting our own podcast here). Thus I will, starting today, write an article every Monday so that I post at least once a week. The ideal is to write more than one a week, but I am thinking that it is better to start small just to get back into the flow.
Attempt to un-block
This morning I decided to block out two hours for writing regardless of whether it would end up in a “postable” article or not. To be honest it really pushed me. The first twenty minutes I was fumbling around not knowing what to write. I started a sentence only to erase it again. I then decided that the sentence construction and flow didn’t matter. Instead I began to write down my thoughts and feelings and the words just began to type themselves.
Perhaps this won’t work every time, though I am committed to make it work. Block out a number of hours for a specific activity and you know that you will get it done. If not fully, you will at least have advanced from where you were before you started. Add a deadline and it forces you to block out those hours within a certain time frame. Let’s do this!
I would love to hear in the comments how you deal with a productive and/or creative block?