Have you ever had an “aha!” moment when you least expected it? Maybe you were in the shower, on a run, or simply drinking your morning coffee when suddenly... the answer became clear. There’s a reason why these breakthrough ideas strike at strange times and it’s most often when you have a clear mind.
In order to do your most creative work, you have to silence any anxious and stressful thoughts, especially if you have external pressure like pending deadlines. The good news is you can learn to distance these negative thoughts, while your creative mind goes to work.
To find out how others stay creative under stress, we reached out to:
Kevin Huynh, Partner at People & Company
Ramon Mortiz, Senior Associate at iProspect
David Li, Technician and Fulfillment Specialist at KeyMe
Here’s what they had to say about distancing anxious thoughts and letting your mind be creative:
Identify Anxious Thoughts
“What’s the first thing you do when you find your mind racing from anxiety and stress?”
Once you notice your mind start to race take a moment to pause and breathe. Try to assess the situation. Ramon suggests considering your “current situation, emotions, [and] thoughts,” by asking questions like:
How did I get to this point?
Why am I thinking this?
Where did this feeling come from?
You can also try writing down your thoughts and feelings in a journal. Kevin finds “that putting [his] thoughts into words helps [him] reflect on what [he’s] feeling and why [he] feels that way.”
Put Things Into Perspective
“How do you silence these anxious and stressful thoughts?”
A common thread among the contributing influencers is to always put everything into perspective. For some, this means introspective reflection, while for others it means talking things out with a close friend.
Kevin says, “nothing silences stressful thoughts like talking them out with someone I trust. Often those discussions with my partner or business partner don't change the circumstances but they put seemingly overwhelming things into perspective.”
Priority Over Pressure
“When you have other tasks to complete, how do you focus on the task at hand rather than the building pressure?”
For Kevin, his “good days start with lists”. Especially when times get busy, Kevin proactively makes lists for each day of the week. However, we all know how easy a to-do list can quickly get out of hand.
This is why it’s important to focus on the present moment says David. He highlights the importance of tackling each task one-by-one even though it can feel “almost paralyzing to focus on whatever you may have on your plate at the moment.
Here are some best practices for writing your to-do list:
Include work-related and personal items
It’s important to make sure you complete all of your work. It’s even more important that you maintain good physical and mental health. Make time for yourself.
Identify urgent versus important items
This helps you determine which items need to be prioritized first, while others can wait until a more appropriate time. Focus on the urgent problems first.
You can read more about writing sensible to-do lists here.
Enjoy the Moment
“Do you have any exercises or habits or hobbies that help you clear your mind and prevent stress from wearing you down?”
Everyone has an activity, hobby, or something you enjoy doing. It’s important that you make time for yourself and these types of activities. For Kevin it’s cooking; he says, “cooking is rejuvenating. There's something about preparing, creating, and consuming food that makes me feel more like me.”