When things just aren’t working….

Have you ever had one of those moments where you’ve read the same paragraph over and over again, because you realise you didn’t take any of it in? Or you’ve been staring at a particular problem, mind completely blank, for way longer than you know it really needs? Or you’ve been staring at a blank page, trying to find the words to fill it with, and suddenly, there are just no words?

This happens to me a lot! Isn’t it infuriating?! You are being good, you’ve sat down to work, you’re ready to create amazing things. You even had a good nights sleep and a decent breakfast and you spent thirty minutes meditating this morning to get in the zone. And still…..blank. What is going on?

Before you start calling yourself all sorts of deprecating names (no, you’re not just being lazy!) I have a theory. You’re not stupid, you’re not lazy, you’re not uncreative. You’re just bored. (Incidentally, reaching for the snacks when you know you’re not really hungry is another symptom of boredom…and we’ve all done THAT, right?!). But when I say bored, I don’t mean in the usual tired-of-life type of bored. I mean creatively bored. Inspirationally bored. (As a side note, it’s also entirely possible you’re just really tired – if you can get a bit more sleep, do, it will make a massive difference and is well worth the time!)

These blank moments can be so frustrating and are a real time and productivity drain. But how to combat them? Personally, I find that one of the best cures for this type of boredom is a change of scenery. I’ve recently taken to working in a local farm shop cafe several afternoons a week, especially when I need to be doing something that requires creativity – which is quite a lot at the moment while I’m getting my business up and running and designing workshops. The energy at the cafe is beautiful and there is a gentle buzz that is comforting but not distracting, not to mention a gorgeous view out to the fields and delicious coffee. I have found I get more focused work done there in two hours than I do in a whole day at home sometimes!

So, could you go and work somewhere else for a while? One of the benefits of a new location is that it is away from all the usual distractions there to tempt you. It’s amazing how appealing the washing up seems when you have a pressing task to complete…! On top of that, since moving physically literally does give you a new perspective on things, you’ll almost certainly get new ideas. Our brain (and hence our creative and problem-solving capabilities) get stimulated by a change in surroundings (the sounds, the sights, the smells!) even if we don’t notice it, so we are immediately opening ourselves up to a greater flow of creativity. And who knows what else might happen…maybe you’ll meet someone new, someone who could become a friend or maybe a useful business contact. It’s amazing who’s out there!

A change of scenery doesn’t necessarily have to be a completely new location, if that’s not practical. It could just be a different room, or even just the other side of the table! If you’re in an office it might not be possible to move to a different desk (although do try it, if it’s an option), but is there a breakout area you could move to for 30 minutes? If physically moving to another location is not possible, as a start try just moving your body. Go for a brisk walk (preferably in nature) or dance around the room for a while with some upbeat music. Moving with purpose brings the added benefits of raising your heart rate and getting the blood flowing…..a pretty good thing as your brain is pretty demanding of oxygen when you’re focusing hard, and hey, the extra steps on your FitBit won’t be a bad thing…

The key though is just to move. Moving position helps switch energies. It signals to your body that something is going to change, which wakes it up. I usually combine movement with music when I need to switch between activities that require a different type of energy – usually upbeat popular music when I need to get going, or relaxed classical when I need to get creative. Sometimes, I can’t be bothered. I skip the music, skip the movement… “I’ve got lots to do, I’ll just crack on with it.” It’s never a good idea…an initial drive to power on and get things done is gradually taken over by the thoughts and distractions that were there previously, and I haven’t really shifted from the energy I was in before.

Another idea you could try is to associate a particular space with a particular activity. For example, when I sit down in that cafe overlooking the fields, I immediately feel my brain switch into creative mode. It knows I’m there for a particular purpose! If I’m at home and I need to focus, I light a candle on my desk. For me, that’s the signal for calm, focused work. Here, the “space” is more of an energetic thing rather than the physical location, but the common theme is some sort of ritual that creates that space. Some people call these “starting rituals”, and they are brilliant. I’ll write more about them in another blog, but for now, have a think about whether there is anything you can do to make your work space more conducive to the specific activity you want to get done.

And, the next time you feel a little bit stuck….try a change of scenery!

I’d love to hear how you get on 🙂

And if you fancy a day-long change of scenery, how about joining me on my upcoming one-day event: here

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