9 Ideation Tips to Overcome Creative Block When Working from Home
Last week, I found myself in a bit of a creative lull. I was feeling a little bit flat and overwhelmed but I had three clients to ideate for.
I was working from home, as many of have for the last few weeks, and I’d set aside some time to ideate and brainstorm ideas for new campaigns. I had my laptop in front of me, emails and Slack turned off, and an array of coloured gel pens at the ready, but it just wasn’t happening.
I’ll admit, I’m not the most creative person on the Aira PR & Content team - what can I say, we all have our own thing! But working from home made me realise that my best ideas really do come in the presence of my colleagues.
With this in mind, as I do so often, I decided to call upon the expertise of my wonderful team to ask for some tips, and from this a Slack thread emerged bursting with tips and tricks to help me get in a more creative space in a time when, let’s face it, it’s easy to be distracted.
Here are some tips from the team at Aira that helped me get my creative mojo back when working from home:
1. Take a break
No matter how long you sit at your desk, if you’re in a little bit of a funk, it’s not going to happen. Have a little walk (even if it’s around your home), shake it off and try to come back with a fresh outlook.
2. Start with the data
It can be really difficult just to come up with an idea out of nowhere. Try taking a look at various data sources and sets to see if you can then ideate around the data you’ve found. Check out sites such as data.gov.uk, Crunchbase or even Reddit to see if you stumble across anything.
3. Take inspiration from elsewhere
For example, Mark Porter’s monthly newsletter ‘Content Curated’ highlights some of the best campaigns in digital PR and shares topical goings-on in the industry, so be sure to subscribe for monthly inspo. Websites like Pudding can also be a great place to start that creative process, or why not try pulling up some key topics using a topic generator.
4. Follow positive news too
Working in PR means we have to have tabs on every aspect of the news, but take time to actually read through some positive news stories within your client’s sector - not only does this help you gather more information, but it might spark a random, outside-the-box idea off in your head. You can also use sites like News Now and filter by sector or topic to make sure you’re not too overwhelmed.
5. Make it fun
Try getting creative, using post-it notes, coloured pens (wild, I know), and try brainstorming on paper instead of online. It’s also important to get outdoors and away from your work setup - it’ll help activate the creative part of your brain and get those juices flowing. Listening to your favourite music/podcast can also be a great way to get into the zone when coming up with ideas.
6. Create a pre-research doc
A great way to spark a few seed ideas is to create a pre-research document. This incorporates articles, datasets and themes relating to a client. It can be an easy starting point and a good foundation for further research and discussion.
7. Have a chat
If you’re anything like me and you come up with ideas by bouncing off someone else, get an ideation buddy or someone on your team and spend 30 minutes talking to them. You could structure it so that you each come with a few articles to discuss, or just jump on a call to see what happens. This isn’t a full brainstorm as such, but it can be a great way to get the juices flowing before continuing ideation alone.
8. Have your own ideas doc
Inspiration may not always strike at the right time, but make sure you make a note when it does. Set up a document or spreadsheet to keep track of all your ideas - which could be anything from an interesting article to a tweet, dataset, campaign or a random thought. Try and give your document some structure by splitting it out by client or sector so that when you need to refer back to it, it’s easy to pull out ideas and themes quickly.
9. Don’t beat yourself up
Remember that your brain is going through a tough time right now and being distracted or less productive than normal is understandable. Some days, it might just not happen. Give yourself enough time before whatever deadline you have and make sure you’re not putting too much pressure on yourself.