Life as a creative entrepreneur can be an emotional rollercoaster. One day you're working with the client of your dreams and then next you feel like you're in a complete dry spell. One day you could be inspired to write a brilliant blog post, and the next you're thinking you could never be as successful as others in your field (hint: this is BS). Although your friends or significant other probably think you're at least a bit bipolar with all of the back and forth, I'm here to tell you...
YOU'RE NOT ALONE.
Working for yourself is hard. Staying motivated and productive all the time is hard. Having to churn out new ideas and incredible content all the time is totally hard. It's a process of continually refining your workflow with non-stop hustle. All day. Errday.
I've gone through these phases enough myself to recognize a pattern. From here on out, let's refer to it as the Hype-Static Complex.
You know you're in "Hype" when...
+ You're frequently having late night work sessions by choice.
+ Your list-making is borderline compulsive.
+ You hop from project to project because you are super inspired.
+ New ideas are coming to you in bed before you sleep or randomly in the shower.
You know you're "Static" when...
+ You haven't posted new content in far too long.
+ You feel like you have no time and no resources to follow through with your ideas.
+ You spend lots of time doing "research" by lurking people in the same industry or on Pinterest, feeling discouraged that you aren't at that same point of success.
+ Doing personal work
+ Feeling validated by a client
+ Deviating from your routine
+ Being inspired offline
+ Doing work you're not inspired by
+ Working with clients you don't connect with
+ Overcommitting yourself
+ Booking dry spells
Why You Should Care...
If you don't find a balance between these phases, then a creative entrepreneur can find themselves in a professional plateau. Your Hype Phases can be productive, but if you lose reliability or consistency at all during a Static Phase it'll be hard to achieve your true potential.
Here's what you can do to make the most out of your peaks and valleys:
1. Use Your Hype Strategically
Although Static Phases can be avoided, it's unlikely that you - the very human, inevitably imperfect entrepreneur - will stay 100% inspired and motivated all of the time. If you're having a moment of inspiration, try to spread it across multiple projects. When I'm feeling extra inspired, I immediately start writing notes on those ideas. One day of hype can result in over a dozen blueprinted blog posts or generated leads.
2. Know What Makes You Tick
There's always tasks that feel enjoyable when you're hyped and like you want to rip your eyeballs out when you're in the Static Phase. For me, culling images from client shoots is one of those things. I always feel most inspired in the first 24 hours after the shoot/wedding. If I wait too long, I'll feel annoyed with the task when I get around to it. For that reason, I try to schedule this in for the night of or day after the commission.
I also try to accomplish the scariest or most overwhelming tasks for the beginning of my work day. Sometimes sending important emails stresses me out (anyone else? just me?) so I reply to get it out of the way. This way I'm not anxious all day knowing it has to get done.
3. Keep a Schedule
No one person can manage due dates, content calendars, marketing schedules, etc. without any help. Keeping an organized calendar with event categories that work for your workflow and brain is key. You have self-analyze and identify what you really need here. Try scheduling your week or day into batch tasks (time blocking similar tasks from multiple clients) so you feel less overwhelmed.
4. Delegate and Automate.
Identify the tasks that fill your mental space on a regular basis, and the tasks that you are uninspired by. If you have the ability to do so, try to delegate tasks that leave you feeling drained or uninspired. There are also many automation tools available to leave you with more time and freedom in your business.
5. Take Care of Yourself
Whenever I start feeling like a conveyor belt of uninspired productivity, I find myself trying to bend the rules of what my body needs to function. Ie. "I'm so busy, so I have to stay up until 2am to finish this job. Who needs sleep anyway?" Getting stuck like this is a total disservice to yourself and your clients. Eat properly. Get enough sleep. Take time to exercise. You can't expect yourself to be at the top of your game if you feel like a zombie, right?
6. Find Offline Inspiration (aka TREAT YO SELF)
Whenever I travel, I come back renewed and fully engaged in a Hype phase, ready to conquer the world. Unless you're growing a money tree (ehem... hook me up?), then you probably can't rely on travel all the time to be at your best self. There's many other ways to emulate that refreshed feeling. For one, get OFF the computer. Read a book. Go out for an spectacularly glamorous brunch with your friends. Bake something. Try creating art with your hands. Real inspiration comes from being challenged and having fun. Do something different and your brain will instantly feel less mechanical and uninspired.
What kind of things do you do to pull yourself out of a creative rut? How do you stay inspired when you're overworked and exhausted? Share your tricks in the comments below!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Thanks for dropping by! I'm Caileigh and I create killer brand identities and offer coaching for creative entrepreneurs with gumption. When I'm not helping people build profitable businesses, I document love stories as a fine art film photographer.