Stuck in a Design Slump? Go Outside!

You sit in front of a computer for eight or more hours a day, trying to rack your brain to think critically and inspire yourself to create innovative designs; but you’re stuck in a design slump.

But then you hit a slump, a design slump, and even the most excessive amount of caffeine won’t cure it. You feel tired, anxious, stressed, maybe even unwilling to work. What do you do?

Far too often, people resort to the answer of “more caffeine and work harder”. And while this may work well enough to get the job done, it’s not the best idea for your mental or physical health or to producing the best work. Design slumps are particularly hard to cure with caffeine because it cause more stress and that situation rarely ever produces fantastic designs. Grinding through designs does not produce inspiring or great work. Fortunately, there is another tool to aid in these slumps.

Leave Your Desk and Go Outside

Go outside and have a nice jog!

People in this modern age truly underestimate the value of exercise and outdoors. Not only does it combat health conditions and diseases, it also actually improves your mood, gives you more energy, and is even shown to improve learning.

Sunlight can make you more positive and creative.

Let’s take a look at the elements and effects of exercise that would benefit you if you find yourself in a design slump or with a lack of inspiration:

  • Exercise improves mood. A physical workout increases levels of endorphins and serotonin as long as several days after exercise is discontinued. This means that just getting one good round of exercise can have a profound impact on your mood for days—it’s easier to design when you’re in a good mood. Exercise has also been considered a prevention method and/or treatment for depression.
  • Exercise is good for your brain. Exercise increases the blood and oxygen flow to your brain, enhances synaptic plasticity (one of the important neurochemical foundations of learning and memory), and increases chemicals that help cognition (dopamine, glutamate, norepinephrine, and serotonin). What more can be said? Exercise will enhance your brain function.
  • Exercise makes you less tired. Initially you’re tired after exercise because your muscles are fatigued, but with proper rest and dieting, you will experience a noticeable difference in your level of energy. Exercise also generally improves sleep for most people, so this also may cause you to have more energy as well.

It doesn’t take half a brain to realize that an elevated mood, enhanced brain, and increased level of energy will help increase your workflow and heighten your creativity. Exercise has been shown to boost work productivity. And the benefits go beyond work and productivity; you will live a longer healthier life.

Graffiti can often be very inspiring and unique!

A Change of Scenery

Exercising outdoors gives you a change in scenery—for a lot of designers, this can be huge. While there are tons of inspiring images to be found online, you would be surprised how much visual inspiration you can get from a simple stroll, job, or bike ride—outside. Traveling by foot or bike allows you to take in your environment at a slower paces, so you start to notice patterns and details that you wouldn’t have noticed driving. It’s not a bad idea to bring your camera or phone to snap some photos if you catch something visually interesting; it may even give you inspiration for the current project that caused your slump.

Enjoying seeing things you don’t normally see!

What are some of the ways you stay out of design slumps? The outdoors is often a refreshing change that can help spark positive, creative thinking. Try to place yourself near the outside either with windows or lots of light. Designing in the dark can cause depression and anxiety over long periods. Do you find your best work hours are latest at night or brightest of days?