6 Habits to Help You Stay Inspired for Your Creative Job

When I started my marketing job, I was excited for an opportunity to do something that I love to do. But I found myself facing creative blockages more often than I thought I would. It was one thing when creativity was purely for fun, but being creative on-demand was more challenging than I ever imagined.

Fortunately, I’ve learned some habits that have helped me to be creative when I need to be and balance that creativity with my other job activities. Hopefully these tricks will help you to become more effective in your creative position!

1. Create separate time and space for tasking vs creative activities.

Rather than allow myself to switch tasks too often, I set aside specific timeslots for uninterrupted brainstorming. If you have the option, sometimes it can be helpful to move to a conference room or some other spot to help your brain recognize that you are shifting focus.

Another trick I’ve learned is to separate my brainstorming time from the time I actually spend turning that idea into reality. Once I’m in my creative flow, I don’t want to break it. I use that time to generate as many ideas as I can, and I write down all of the details. I’ll revisit the list at a later time and put in the work to make those ideas happen. Doing this allows me to get the maximum output from a burst of creativity without wasting time on tasks that could just as easily be performed later.

2. Make sure your overall lifestyle is suited to performing well at your job.

Getting regular exercise in my free time helps me stay focused at work. It helps if the exercise is intense – since I’m sedentary most of my day, I really need a strong adrenal boost to maintain a good energy level. In addition to working out, I try to take a brisk 20-30 minute walk during my break. I also occasionally do stretches or standing yoga poses in the bathroom stall to keep my blood flowing.

Eating right is also key (although in the spirit of full disclosure, I’m eating a bag of M&Ms as I write this – I plan to chug some water and eat some carrots to balance it out). I used to be able to get away with less nutritional meals, but now I quickly feel the drop in my energy level if I haven’t been eating properly. Also, choosing the right snacks can be the difference between facing a severe afternoon blood sugar drop or going strong all the way until the end of the day. I like to snack on things like raw veggies with hummus (broccoli is especially good for your adrenal levels), hard boiled eggs, and nuts. Proteins and dark greens are a good choice when you need energy.

3. A change of scenery can go a long way.

If you’re sitting at the same desk staring at the same thing every day, your creativity is going to suffer. It’s easy for your thinking to fall into a pattern. Breaking up that pattern is the best way to help your mind move in a new direction.

Getting away from your desk and moving around can really help. When I’m feeling stuck, I’ll pick up my camera and walk through our various departments looking for creative projects to photograph. It helps wake me back up, and the scenery change helps me regain my ability to think outside of the box.

As an added bonus, the conversations I have during these walk-arounds usually unearth some creative ideas that my coworkers have. Don’t be afraid to ask your co-workers for ideas – often you’ll find they’ve been hiding some great ones. Just make sure you give them the credit when their ideas work!

4. Learn to “birth” ideas rather than force them out.

It’s important that you are setting up the right conditions for creativity. When that lightening strikes, document that idea (more on this in the next bullet point), but keep in mind that this idea might not be ready to share right away. Keep returning to it and allow it to develop further. One day you’ll realize that it is ready to go, and you’re ready to present it to the world.

Now that I’ve started this process of nurturing my ideas, I have a running list of every idea that has come to me. I scan my list regularly, developing the ideas that aren’t quite ready yet and moving forward with the ones that are. I also have a file called “DRAFTS” that contains a bunch of half-written blog posts. Sometimes I’ll be inspired to write part of a post or to create an outline, and I’ll return to it later and flesh it out.

5. Keep an idea notebook.

You never really know when inspiration will strike. That’s why an idea notebook is so useful. Keep it at your desk so you can document things easily. Sometimes I’ll have an idea while working on another task, so I’ll jot it down for later.

6. Create an inspiration file.

Sites like Pinterest and Behance are a great source of ideas, but having an actual real-life file is the ultimate inspiration. I work for a printer after all, so why wouldn’t I want to look at actual printed items? Whenever I find a cool print project, I put it in my file. Often, our graphics designer or my boss will give me something interesting, and I’ll add those to my file as well. Looking through these projects is a great way to get out of a creative rut.

What habits help YOU stay creative and focused at work? Share them in the comments below!

Things I Didn’t Know About Motherhood

Motherhood is an experience that is both challenging and rewarding. Despite having many friends who became mothers before me, and despite listening to them tell me about their experiences, there was absolutely nothing that could have prepared me for the reality of motherhood. There were parts that were way more difficult than I anticipated, but there are also parts that are so much better than I could ever have imagined.

I’ve only been a mother to baby Alexa for just under two short months, but in this brief time period I’ve experienced so many highs and lows. Here are some of the challenges I’ve encountered in this journey so far!

Postpartum recovery can be lengthy and difficult.

I knew going into my pregnancy that there would be a recovery process after giving birth, but I didn’t realize how challenging that would be. After giving birth, the bleeding can last for several weeks, and everything hurts down there. It’s difficult to move around. Specifically, if I was seated and holding the baby, I had to ask someone to take her so that I could stand up. I couldn’t stand up and hold the baby at the same time.

Trying to keep up with things while I was recovering was incredibly difficult and overwhelming. The first night I came home from the hospital I started crying hysterically. I was sore, exhausted from the lack of sleep in the hospital, and I felt like my husband, Juan, was doing a much better job than I was of taking care of the baby. Fortunately, I had some great friends and family members that came over during this time to help clean, bring food, and hold the baby. I have no idea how I would have gotten through this without Juan’s paternity leave – and I have a newfound admiration for single mothers, because this was challenging, even with all the help.

Once I had fully recovered, taking care of things got a lot easier and I began to find my groove. Parenting still has its difficult moments, but it’s much easier now that my body has healed.

Taking care of a baby is incredible, but it can also be isolating.

During my maternity leave, I got to experience what it would be like to be a stay-at-home mother. Juan’s paternity leave was shorter than my leave, so I had about three weeks of taking care of Alexa on my own during the day. I had some absolutely incredible moments, but I can definitely see that taking care of a baby is isolating. It’s easy to get sucked into the baby vortex and fail to spend time with family and friends. It’s easy to get stuck in the house all day, as taking the baby with you can turn even a simple outing into an event.

I definitely recommend scheduling visits with friends and family and taking your baby out of the house, even if it’s challenging. Being able to spend time with others and go places is an important part of self-care. Don’t neglect your self-care just because of the baby. And make sure that you take some time away from your child to do some of the things you used to do for yourself. For me, that means leaving Alexa with my husband on Saturday for a few hours so I can go thrifting and grocery shopping on my own. It also looks like taking the time to write and journal in the morning before she has woken up for the day.

Breastfeeding can be incredibly hard.

In the hospital, I had a difficult time getting Alexa to latch. The nurses had me waking her up for feedings, and she was so tired that she had no interest in eating. She latched exactly two times, and both of those were times when the lactation consulting helped her do it. I wasn’t able to get her to latch myself, which led me to decide that I wanted to pump and feed her through a bottle.

I was advised to pump every three hours around the clock. This alone proved to be a difficult struggle – who wants to sit there with a breast pump all day, especially when no milk is coming out yet?

At the pediatrician’s office, I started crying when he asked me how I planned to feed her. We talked and it became clear that I didn’t really want to give up breastfeeding just yet. Since Alexa was over 9 pounds, he told me to take her home and for the next two days offer her nothing but breastmilk, even if she cried and refused to eat. We would check in two days later to see how she did.

Fast forward to later that night – Alexa is crying uncontrollably and refusing to breastfeed. I’m falling apart because I feel guilty letting her starve. Juan wanted to cave in and give her formula. Finally, my mom came over to help and with the aid of a nipple shield, we finally got her to latch.

Once she latched, there were still many challenges. The first challenge is cluster feeding. She tends to sleep pretty well at night, but that means that during the day she is making up for it with extra feedings. She can feed for 45 minutes and then half an hour later she’ll be ready to feed again. Making this even more challenging is her love of using me as her pacifier – she loves to comfort feed, and she could do this for hours on end. All of this leaves me feeling like a human milk machine.

Since I’m planning to go back to work, I had to figure out how to pump as well. To make pumping less of a hassle, I invested in a hands-free portable pump, which was a game changer. I hated pumping, but with this pump I am able to get some chores done at the same time. The only challenge is that I’m supposed to pump after each feed, but Alexa is often awake and requiring attention. The one thing I can’t do while pumping is hold my baby, so right now my pumping is a bit sporadic. When I return to work and she is in daycare, I’ll be able to adhere to a consistent pumping schedule.

I’ve grown to love breastfeeding her – especially since I learned to how to feed her while lying down in bed. I often will lie down in bed the afternoon with a tv show on and allow her to comfort feed a bit, which helps her fall asleep for a late afternoon nap. This has become one of my favorite parts of the day.

Leaving your child at daycare is super emotional

As of this writing, I have one week of maternity leave left. I am dreading having to drop off baby Alexa at daycare next week. We really love the daycare we selected, but I still feel the dread. I’m going to miss the long hours spent with her during the day, and I don’t want to pass her off to someone else who will get to enjoy her while I’m at work all day. Before giving birth, I didn’t think this was going to be difficult for me to do — I thought I might enjoy the break. But now that I’ve met my child, I have no idea how I’m going to be able to be apart from her during the week. Since I work from home, my plan is to prepare dinner during my lunch break so that I have the entire evening to savor my time with her.

Your Motherhood Journey

What are some of the challenges you have faced in your journey with motherhood? Do you identify with any of the ones I shared? Let me know in the comments!

On Weight Gain and Body Acceptance

Over the past few years, I’ve put on a lot of weight. It actually started with a medication that I had to take for bipolar disorder. One of the side effects was that I put on a few pounds. But it wasn’t until recently, when I got pregnant with my first child, that the weight really started to pile on. During my pregnancy, I was a bit overwhelmed at the rate at which I was gaining weight, and it was hard to prevent it from happening. I was constantly hungry, and as my pregnancy progressed, I replaced going to the gym with more leisurely walks because I was constantly winded and tired from my workouts.