I’m sure all the designers & creatives out there deal with figuring out how to break out of a design rut. Well at least I know I do! And it can be so frustrating when you just can’t get out of a rut or funk and you feel like you have no creativity left! So I have a fun little list this week to help you out the next time you find yourself struggling. Instead of powering through try a few things from my list and see which one helps you out!
Change your Environment
Sometimes it’s easy to follow a routine and do the same thing day in and day out. And that can really lead to design ruts. So one way to break out of a design rut is to change up your working environment (if possible). One way I do this is by working at a coffee shop instead of from home every once in awhile! There are so many coffee shops or co working spaces nowadays that you can hopefully find one that fits the vibe you need to get your work done. I find it can really help you focus with less distractions than being at home (like Netflix or constant trips to the kitchen to find snacks). I usually leave feeling reenergized and accomplished.
*Bonus tip: If you can’t leave your environment then change your space by adding a new plant or hanging up a fun print!
Try out a new hobby (like calligraphy!)
That is a quick video of me from early on practicing and learning calligraphy
Another way to break out of a design rut is to totally change up what you are doing by trying out a new hobby. Sometimes doing the same type of work over and over can lead to creative fatigue so by adding in something new it can change how you approach your day to day work. The hobby can still be something creative but try something not directly related to your area of expertise. For example if your a graphic designer like me then maybe take a photography class or try out painting. There are so many options out there! Another fun trend I love are the adult coloring books. That's definitely an easy hobby since all you need is the book & some type of marker or colored pencils, so fun! Here's my favorite ones: Animal Kingdom and Splash of Color.
Start a challenge
I see so many challenges nowadays and that includes creative ones! These really help you out especially if they get you out of your comfort zone and add some accountability. A few years ago I actually used a challenge as a way to jumpstart my hand lettering practice. I always wanted to be better at it and never started until I saw a challenge on Instagram with a list of prompts. So I jumped right in and started with a month of hand lettering every day! From there I loved it so much I followed the prompt list every day for a whole year. I never would’ve thought when I started that it would last that long but it was a fun creative challenge for me and I loved doing it. I found the hand lettering challenge from Made Vibrant, she doesn't do them anymore but her work is still awesome!
There are so many challenges out there so find one that you are interested in and just start doing it! Maybe I’ll do another one sometime, or even host my own someday!
Do you remember back in the days of school or college and you’d have a team project?! (groan) Even though they're fun to complain about they weren’t that bad! I do remember there being some great parts to them, like being inspired by your classmates work & ideas and then building off of each other. I think that’s a great way in the professional world to break out of a design rut. Depending on the type of work you do collaborating with others in your field or in complementary disciplines can really change up your perspective!
Reflect on Past Work
Sometimes looking back on old work can be cringe-worthy but it can also be inspiring (recent logo design process!). Either way you can see how far you’ve come in your work and know that you are always improving which might be enough to give you that extra push to get out of your funk and carry on. It can also remind you that you have completed some awesome projects in the past. Either way reminiscing can be a fun little break & remind you why you do what you do. I mean #tbt is pretty popular for a reason! If you have your own blog or website and document your projects then you can also easily review past work that way too!
I hope something on this list resonated with you and you can refer back the next time you are feeling unmotivated and have no creative juices left! Here's a recap for you to keep handy and help you break out of a design rut: