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9 Ways to Keep You Fresh, Inspired and Creative

Image by Rares Dutu

How do you keep yourself fresh, inspired and creative as a blogger?

I was asked variations of this question three times this week, so thought I’d put my mind to giving a public answer.

There are certainly times when I don’t feel overly ‘fresh’, ‘inspired’ or ‘creative’. However, I guess over the last 10 years of blogging I’ve begun to develop some rhythms and habits that enable me to keep consistently create content on a daily basis.

One of the things that I’ve intuitively done over the last few years is to put aside time each week for activities that help me keep fresh. These activities aren’t specific to blogging and I suspect they might be helpful for people working in many kinds of jobs – particularly those where you need to develop ideas and be creative.

Here’s a quick summary of the types of activities I try to include in my life each week:

1. Inspiration

When I’m not inspired, I find it very difficult to be creative or generate ideas.So every week, I try to build in moments to get in touch with my dreams. I put myself in places where I’m likely to be inspired. This includes everything from spending time with inspirational people, watching inspirational videos (I’m a TED addict), attending inspirational events, watching great movies and reading inspiring books.

2. Preparation

If I’m working on a big project (like a mega blog post, a presentation, or an eBook) I quite often feel quite overwhelmed with the process.

I find I can take some of the pressure off by setting aside ‘preparation’ time for the task of creating the project. I set aside time to research, read on the topic, talk to others and plan out how to go about getting the project done. This might sound a little like procrastination but I find by setting aside time for ‘preparation’, the quality of what I actually ‘create’ (next step) is much higher.

3. Creation

Each week I put aside significant time to ‘create’. For me, the creation is largely around creating content (blog posts, videos, eBooks, presentations) and because of the publication schedule I’m on creation needs to happen on a daily basis. I publish three blog posts per day across my blogs and I need to keep that schedule up.

For me, creation time is usually in the mornings. My Golden Hours are from 9-11am which is a time I protect from intrusions.

4. Completion

A few years ago, I went through a stage of creating a lot of content that would then sit unfinished for weeks, even months. I would get distracted by new things or lose inspiration along the way.

So I’ve started to build time to ‘complete’ into my week and I tackled the things that fall into this category. I often do these ‘completing’ tasks in the afternoons or evenings.

5. Interaction

I’m an introvert. I love people but they suck energy out of me so I naturally feel drawn to spending time alone. This works quite well for me as a blogger as I don’t need to be around people to blog.

However… while being around people takes energy from me I know that there are many benefits of spending time with other people. Sometimes my best ideas emerge in conversation and to grow my business, I’ve needed to bring in others to complement my skills and help me scale. Every Friday, I work in a friend’s office (it’s more of a man cave). Three to four of us (mainly people who are in my team) work side by side on that day. We spend some time working together in a meeting, but also time working on our own projects.

I love these days and often find amazing ideas flow out of them!

6. Mindless Activity

I recently asked my Twitter followers where they get their best ideas. I was amazed how many people said two things – ‘in the shower’ and ‘while walking/exercising’. I’m exactly the same.

I often get light bulb moments while I’m doing some kind of mindless activity. For me, it can be while I walk, shower or weed the garden! I noticed this several years ago so decided to punctuate each day with mindless activities. Most days, I take 15 minute walks 2-3 times a day. I also moved my shower from first thing in the morning to mid-morning.

I don’t schedule these activities for specific times each day but rather once I end something I’m working on, I will just do them then before jumping into the next activity.

7. Play

This one has a little overlap with some of the other activities. I like to set aside a little time each day to ‘play’. By play I mean numerous things including playing with ideas and problems (I journal, mind map and daydream) and playing with my kids (I often find doing lego or doing something creative with my boys stimulates ideas but is also fun time with the kids). I’d also slip photography into this category too.

Having a creative outlet that is not about creating something for the blog gives me a lot of energy.

8. Rest

Five years ago I was proud to say that I worked 60-70 hours a week on my blogging. While I often spoke about work/life balance, I was enjoying my work and so I worked hard – too hard. Unfortunately, I was setting myself up for a fall and came to a point where my heath suffered as I began to suffer from blogger burnout.

These days I not only teach work/life balance but practice it. I take more regular vacations, rarely work on the weekends and schedule a couple of hours off every Wednesday afternoon. I still work hard but I also prioritise rest and I see the positive impact it has upon my blogging (and life).

9. Self Improvement

Lastly, each week I attempt to do something that is not so much about creating content or improves my business but which improves me in some way.

Often we look at the early years of our life when we attend school or university as the ‘educational’ period of our life but I’ve found that if I’m not learning, not stretching myself or not working on doing something to improve skills or knowledge then I often become stagnant. As a result I like to take on mini-projects to work on who I am.

These might range from the fun, I recently took a Thai Cooking class, through to more serious and related to my work like reading a book, taking a course or attending a conference related to my work.

I’d love to know, what do you do to keep yourself fresh, inspired and creative?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. mrdat says:

    Great Post ! Good ideas for getting refreshment.Here can be helpful to remain fresh and energetic .I’ll try to come back to and keep reading again. Thanks

  2. Jepara says:

    Couldn’t meditation be considered rest as well

  3. Hi Darren

    The post could not have come at a better time. Trying to stay inspired can be draining in its self. #7. PLAY resonates with me, and that is how I stay inspired and motivated to keep working forward on my blog and other challenging activities that may start to get old at times.

    Interesting post!

    Chris

  4. Terry says:

    It is absolutely right. rest is very important and also playing with kids.

  5. Ria Dancel says:

    Going out to experience new things that we can integrate to our projects, such as in writing or blogging, helps to keep creativity, inspiration, and freshness. Having an actual encounter with people that we can share in our content inspires others to keep on reading about what we have written. This is a commendable article :) Thank you for posting.

  6. Jane says:

    Books. I read a lot and I read very diverse books. I always learn new things and find myself wanting to write about new things. I would add some good coffee (not every day though, not good for ya) and a nice view to admire while you’re working.

  7. Ryan says:

    As an INTJ personality, this post really hits home. Its been a struggle to schedule out my life and balance things. In terms of writing, sorting out ideas, the creation process, and completion is a balancing act in itself that has costed me hours of mindless over-analyzing. I always think “Go big or go home”, but that’s not always the healthy choice. Its inspiring to see how you’ve improved your life for the better! Thanks for the inspiration Darren!

  8. tamtit says:

    That is basic way to keep creative. So it’s verry helfull to my kheo tay idea to create my own business! Thank for sharing awsome informations

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  10. Neets says:

    Great post Darren,

    My blog is all about balancing family, fitness and fun! Sure I have my days where I have no inspiration but for the most part, I get my inspiration whilst I run. It’s the best and keeps me energised and full of new ideas.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Cheers
    Neets

  11. I Like your post. That is basic way to keep creative

  12. Liz English says:

    Thank You! I have been struggling for the last week trying to come up with something – anything I will definitely put your suggestions to work Once again Thank You for sharing Darren.

  13. Rupak says:

    Hi Darren!!!
    !The refreshments are often productive as they help us relax and bring forth creative ideas. I like meditation when nothing seems working. Roaming in the park or serine places do motivate us to derive something very new. I liked the way you handle your stress and continue your work energetically, Darren. Contemplation is the mother of great ideas. Thanks for sharing your methodologies of creativity. Cheers.

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  15. Mebel Jati says:

    I Like your post. That is basic way to keep creative

  16. Maninder Pal says:

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  17. Manny Bran says:

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  18. James George says:

    Darren, This is an excellent article. I completely understand where you’re coming from on a lot of the points you touched on today. My absolute toughest part is the “finishing process” where I actually complete my tasks. I seriously thought I was the only one, but I am glad to know someone as successful as you has the same problem! It makes me feel better, anyway.

    I love your idea about setting aside specific time for finishing projects. It’s a great idea to set aside time to focus on completion. It is a HUGE relief to get things off your plate, so they can be put away mentally. Clearing out the attic, so to speak, is a great way to keep fresh. The big reason is because it is really tough to have room for new ideas when you have your mind cluttered with remnants of projects and other things. Killer post Darren, you’ve given me a lot to think about!

  19. Jerome says:

    I need this, thanks for sharing =)

  20. Joye says:

    nice content.
    in sum, be happy, try all possible new things.
    :)

  21. Adam says:

    A fine article about being creative. I find exercise is one of the most important things to help keep me focused. I can have the best ideas when I am out in the fresh air!

  22. Britnee says:

    Thanks for the great ideas. My favorite tip was #4 about completing tasks. Sometimes it’s easy to start a task, but hard to actually complete.

  23. Doran says:

    We have to be creative but we have to be refreshed

  24. George says:

    It is really hard for me to be as much creatice, as I could be, next to my 9 to 5 job…
    If I would be breaver, I would quit this job, and make a living online.

    Your article is very good by the way. I will read it up, when I need motivation.

    G.

  25. Sara D says:

    I am reaped the benefit through your Article.Plus that i used to advise you the last ponint.

  26. Paul Gibson says:

    One of the few tricks I carry out to get fresh and creative are

    - I take a technological detox every month.

    - I never carry my phone or iPod when I go out for a walk. Instead of listening to music I plan and work on fresh Idea during this time.

  27. Darren, thank you for the interesting article. I completely understand where you’re coming from on a lot of the points you touched in the post. Rest (especially playing with kids and pets) is really a very important part to be creative.

  28. Ravi Verma says:

    The post is itself inspiring fro a blogger. Great thoughts that could make a blogger again fresh and creative towards the content creations.
    This is true, if we give time to some other activities, we get some new ideas and become curious again to come back on our blog and we create more better content than before

  29. Joe Stocks says:

    Hi
    Your blog was mind blowing..Very interesting and eager to learn a lot from your blog..Thank you so much for sharing a informative one..As a blogger everyone should know about it..

  30. Elizabeth B says:

    This sounds like great advice for life in general. I started a blog just yesterday so I’m absorbing all the good advice I can get; thanks!

  31. Joan says:

    Good post! For me sometimes it is easy to come up with new ideas and other times I go blank. When I am at work during the day, little things come to me and I put them down on sticky’s. At the end of a good day lots of sticky notes are in my purse.

  32. Sakib Khan says:

    NIce..stuff very helpful for both beginner as well as experienced blogger

  33. Jeremy W says:

    Great tips – thanks for sharing! I think for me, I tend to get stuck in a position where I want to be really productive, but over-analyze on how to move forward in the most productive way. A bit of a “analysis-paralysis” type of situation and it’s frustrating.

    What’s the best way to burst through these hurdles? Probably to just keep writing. Stop thinking, keep writing. Maybe… any thoughts?

  34. Sbazaar says:

    Very interesting post.

    You can’t find anywhere else.
    This is Problogger :)

    Thanks.

  35. I usually flip through Facebook profiles of the rich and the well known people around me and that inspires me to do things to become one of them.