How To Keep Your Creative Juices Flowing admin | May 18th, 2011

Not long ago my girlfriend came home from a long night of waiting tables and, as per our usual after-work conversation, began to walk me through the horrors of the service industry. “I was just in the weeds,” she finally sighed.

“Well there’s your problem right there,” I replied. “I mean honestly, drug abuse on the job…”

“IN the weeds, you goon. I was IN the weeds.”

“In the what now?”

I pride myself on keeping a lexicon of slang, antiquated and otherwise readily at my disposal. This one, however, was new to me. So about 10 minutes of explanation and no less than 4 diagrams later, I finally got it. I think Yahoo! Answers actually does a nice summation:

“Diners’ wait-staff would get hopelessly behind and overwhelmed by orders, causing them to struggle as if they were walking through remarkably high weeds.”

Huh. How incredibly appropriate. And it’s safe to say we’ve all been there. Well, not waiting tables in a diner, per se, but we’ve all been in the weeds. I certainly have. Support tickets piles up, voice mailboxes get filled to capacity, twitter um, tweets.

There’s a millions different ways for people to get your attention and a million different ways for you to reply. Some folks will only speak on the phone. Others only through email. There are folks on cS who strictly go through our private messaging system. I had a dude hit me up on facebook once.  And part of my responsibility is to juggle the queries from each medium, review each request and reply in kind.

And that’s just my grind. As a designer, I can only imagine what it’s like to walk in your shoes: different clients all concerned about their various needs, revisions, deadlines, et al.  Actually, I’ve had the folks at cS laboratories recreate an average day in the life of y’all. Behold!

So yeah, it’s easy to get in the weeds. How in the world to you get out? Yahoo! Answers, you got anything?

“..drinking lots of cranberry juice, get a detox kit from GNC or wherever (which are pretty expensive), and take lots of vitamin-B to speed up your metabolism.”

Not helpful Y! Answers. Not helpful in the slightest. Now go sit in the corner and think about what you’ve done.

Okay, well here’s my trick for getting out of the bottomless mire of metaphors for getting overwhelmed on the job: Turn off the monitor. Turn off the phone. And walk away.

Seems simple right? It’s not. Pressing the reset button takes equal parts zen, skill and steeled determination (unless you’re a Nintendo, in which case you just hit the reset button). But 9 times out of 10 it works and you’re back in the game, clear head and all.

But that’s just me. How do you guys get out of the weeds?

image credit: a47nn

From many minds, the perfect design. Post your project today and let the crowd wow you!

  • Coffee and candy help keep my eyes open in the wee morning
    hours but have little effect when I get the occasional writers’ block. During
    these occasions, I find that a short nap refreshes my mind and helps me organize
    my thoughts.

  • Vance Walsh

    I have a xbox 360 at work and I play when things get really stressed or at the end of the day. sometimes i even show up to work early to play. See I don’t have a game console at home that I play often so it makes coming to work a little more fun.

  • Mircha69

    alternating your process is key i think, today i was working on something and was really stressed about not getting to what i wanted to , so i got of the seat grabbed my sketchbook and 0.5mm mech pencil and the solution came in 5 minutes 🙂

    never underestimate the power of the pencil or alternating your way of doing things, some day every vector point seems to be perfectly placed and you can work for hours on your computer, other days you can’t even find the pen tool 🙂

    walk about the room, have a look at a cat video on youtube, scribble, doddle, just don’t sit there and look at the damn monitor, and if you cant turn it of at least walk away from it once in a while.

  • This was a really nice one, work can be pretty boring no matter how much you love creating stuff. So adding something fun to it can really be helpful. 

  • I agree, the majority of creatives I know get extremely irritable when having to do the same thing throughout the day, even when it’s being creative.

    Variety is the spice of life.

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