By: Jonathan King On: April 23, 2016 In: Creativity Comments: 0

Last time I wrote about the importance of having a creative outlet.  It’s important because it helps us look at the world from different perspectives and solve problems in novel ways.  But how do you stay creative, motivated, and productive when you’re facing a number of challenges?

Note: This is the fifth in a series on entrepreneurship.  I recently started my own consulting business and I’m writing about my own discoveries and experiences.  Read my last post on the importance of having a creative outlet.

Sometimes you have to generate your own motivation.  And sometimes the only way to do that is by stepping away from your situation and focusing on something that feeds your soul.

I’m currently facing a number of challenges, really difficult ones.  I’m way outside my comfort zone in a number of respects.  Sometimes it’s really easy to get overwhelmed by the relentless crush of life and get paralyzed.  But the answer is in getting some rest, finding a distraction (creative outlet), making a plan of action, and focusing on one thing at a time.

Rest and Recover

We all focus on work way too much and don’t devote enough time to rest and recovery.  I usually devote one day a week to do nothing. It helps me recharge and recover from the stresses of life.  And when the next day comes, I’m fired up and ready to take on the next task.  Without recovery time, we burn out and reap diminishing returns for our efforts.

Get Distracted

As I mentioned in my last post on creative outlets, there is a whole world out there to discover. You can never exhaust the possibilities for new pursuits and experiences.  The things you learn about yourself through discovery and exploration provide a youthful vigor you can channel back into your daily grind.

I read a lot of books, work out, travel, play guitar, and write stuff (like this) to distract myself.  It works pretty well.

Make a Plan of Action

Once you’re refreshed and recharged, think about what you want to accomplish.  Think about where you want to end up at the end of the day, week, and month.  Then map out a course to get there.  A lot of fear comes from the unknown.  If you chart a path through the difficulty, you can remove a lot of unknowns and a lot of fear.

Focus on One Thing at a Time

I’m really impatient and like to get a lot done in a short period of time.  But quality suffers and burnout looms if I try to blaze through too much at once.  There are times when you need to plow through a ton of work to make a deadline, but I feel more satisfied when I make steady progress in a day.

Recognize That It’s Not as Bad as it Seems

Life is hard. I’ve had to learn to calm down and stay focused when things seem overwhelming.  And unless the house is literally burning down, there’s no need to lose your cool.  Let things go.  Unload the irrational fears that can’t be addressed.  Recognize what it is in your sphere of control and focus on those things.

Call it a Day

Know when to end your day so you can recharge for the next one.  I’ve never been good at this, but I’m learning to exercise better boundaries on my time so I don’t get strung out.

Hot Fresh Inspiration

Oh, and of course, there’s coffee.  Lots and lots of good coffee.

Jonathan King is Principal and Creative Director of J5MEDIA, a digital marketing consulting firm.