A Daily Creative Routine To Get You Out Of Your Funk & Into Your Flow

When people want to know about what my typical work day looks like, I often laugh and say, “You mean, me sitting in my pajamas at my laptop all day forgetting to eat or go to the bathroom!?” Most days are far from glamorous. It’s the same routine day in and day out. Sometimes I get to play or attend fun events, but it’s not the norm. So how do I stay creative when I’m living a version of “Groundhog Day”? It’s all about little things that can help get me out of a funk and into a flow.

Let me start by saying, these are things that work for me. My creative routine will not work for everyone. It’s something you need to base on your own needs and desires. I’ve done a lot of work over the past couple years to really evaluate my day and its workload. I’ve had to take into account my family’s routine, too. It’s a lot of trial and error. It’s also ever-changing. Yet, the backbone of the routine is there to guide me. It gives me confidence in knowing how to structure my time to get the most done while also keeping my sanity.

Create A Bliss Station

Austin Kleon is someone you will hear me refer to a lot. I found many of the concepts he mentions in his book Keep Going were already part of my routine. He talks about creating a “Bliss Station,” which stems from the wisdoms of Joseph Campbell who coined the saying, “Follow Your Bliss.”

Campbell elaborates with,

“If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are—if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.”

He also argues that to do this, one must create a “scared space” to disconnect from distractions. Even if it’s not a physical space, it can be mental. At least one hour a day where you don’t have any idea what is happening on the news, on social media, what your friends are doing, etc. As we get older, we have so many demands and so much information swirling at us at all times. We hardly know what day it is! We have to take control and grab hold of our bliss.

We’ll have to dive deeper into finding that bliss in another post, but let’s say you have a pretty good sense of it. Then you need to foster it! Creating a bliss station will help. Whether it’s in your head, the kitchen table, your bed or an office, you need to carve out space.

My “Give Bliss A Chance” shirt

For me, my best time of day is in the late morning after the kids are at school. I come home and do some tidying (more on that here), and then I sit with a cup of coffee at my kitchen table (my current bliss station due to the glorious, warm morning light). I listen to a little music, I turn my phone on airplane mode, I don’t open email or Slack, and I get to work on something creative. Not grabbing my phone over and over is a huge challenge. It’s become a boredom crutch. Often, I have to leave it in another room if I really want to focus.

“The phone gives us a lot but it takes away three key elements of discovery: loneliness, uncertainty and boredom. Those have always been where creativity comes from.” —Lynda Barry

Make Lists

Making lists is something I have to actually push myself to do. I don’t know what it is, but I have an aversion to them. I know they are meant to keep me on track and reduce anxiety, but they often spike my anxiety. That being said, I know they are important and I have made them a part of my daily routine. At the start of the week, I like to do a brain dump. I use Google Docs and just type out every single thing that I think of. Then later, I pull out two to three things to get done for each day of the week. I never like to have more than that for each day because then I tend to fall behind and feel defeated. Having just a couple is usually doable.

I also make a list each week with reminders for things that give me bliss. These are things that often get pushed back when I am running through a busy day. Yet, these are the things that help me the most when it comes to my creative flow.

Here’s an example:

  • Listen to vinyl
  • Take a walk
  • Make something with my kids
  • Listen to a podcast
  • Look at old magazines
  • Call my dad
  • Visit the bookstore

I also like to make lists of things I want to try to create, like playlists, articles, a photo shoot, etc.

Keep the lists with you at all times. I like to have them on paper, my Notes on my phone and then I add them into Asana.

Put Blinders Up

Like I mentioned earlier, you must remove distractions. One of the biggest distractions from your creativity is comparison. Social media has made this a daily occurrence for us. We see everyone’s highlight reels, what they are doing, making and who they are working with. It’s impossible not to compare. However, when it affects the work that we create, it becomes a real problem. Same goes for making things to earn a paycheck. Sometimes in order to make stuff, we have to ignore what others are doing and ignore the numbers.

This is something I’ve really had to stick to recently. It’s also a huge reason for the shift in content here on Glitter Guide. While it’s important to pay attention to numbers, budgets, traffic, etc., it can really kill your creative spirit. Most of the things that bring me the greatest joy making aren’t always going to be money-makers or even get much notice, but does that mean they aren’t worth doing? Of course, because it comes from my heart. If I allowed the other things to dictate everything I made, I would not be able to do this for the long haul.

The things I’ve started to practice aren’t comfortable. By trying them, you actually may feel like you’re making a huge mistake. For example, don’t look at your Insights on your social media unless you absolutely must for a brand. Don’t pay attention to follows and unfollows, don’t look at your likes and comments for a few days after you post something. Don’t look at analytics on your blog for a few months. Mute people on social media who give you a bad feeling. Do one thing for free each month just because it makes you happy. Sounds scary, right? It is, but it’s also liberating!

“What I’m really concerned about is reaching one person.” —Jorge Luis Borges

Get Outside

I can easily stay inside and work in the same spot for hours. Remember how I mentioned those pajamas and not eating earlier? Yeah, that is a regular occurrence for me. Especially since I have a shorter work schedule then most because of my kids. I can be a real work horse. Although after experiencing major burnout, I’ve improved. I also find that days where I don’t leave the house to smell some fresh air and see some other living creatures can really put me in a bad mood in the evening, which isn’t fair to my family.

Plus, getting outside gives me a literally a new outlook. If I’m feeling blocked or uninspired, I can take a 10-minute walk or even better, go for a run or work out. After, I’m re-energized and can take a fresh look at my work. A walk is magic like that. It’s also a reminder to me that I am sedentary all day long. When I remove myself from my work and see how I’ve spent my day, it can be a real kick in the butt. I don’t want to spend all my time in front of a screen!

My 5-year-old daughter mentioned something to me on our recent family picnic. She said, “This is the best day ever! I love the food. I love the trees. I love hearing the birds tweet tweet.” It was so amazing to hear a 5-year-old be so aware. She was feeling the pure joy of being present and being in nature. That’s something I want more of. While work is crucial and something I enjoy, it’s not everything. I need to walk, get outside, smile at people. My life and my work will thank me for it.

Make sure that you also see How To Take A Solo Trip To LA, and Proof That “Age-Appropriate” Clothing Is A Hoax!

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Author: Taylor Sterling

Taylor Sterling is the founder and creative director of Glitter Guide. When she's not working on all things GG, she can be found reading and sometimes art directing photoshoots for @LolaJayne. She enjoys spending time with her family and eating french fries (not necessarily at the same time, although that's definitely the best combination). Follow her at @TaylorSterling