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Getting a Fresh Perspective

Every once in awhile, design becomes a dreaded chore, because nothing seems to work or everything feels uninspired. Most people expect designers to be creative at all times, but just like any occupation, there are peaks and valleys to project navigation, skill level, and attitude about the work. Every designer (fashion, interior, graphic, and beyond...) goes through those valleys at times.

The bad part is not in having these moments of "un-designeriness;" rather, handling it well is the challenge. What are you supposed to do when you are in a design funk or feeling unmotivated to create? Assuming you do not want to stay in the Valley of Dullness:

Take a break. Getting stuck or becoming stagnant is often a byproduct of overworking the brain. A huge workload can be distracting enough to reduce the brainpower available for solving problems. Too many (poorly managed) demands and intimidating deadlines can cause enough stress to put the body in spaz-out mode, which is just no good for creativity. If you find yourself jetting between tons of projects but making little progress, drop everything and get away from the office. Take a walk, go for a swim, head to yoga, have a leisurely lunch with a friend, or meditate in a park. Tell yourself you will stay away from the office until you have noticed that you're no longer thinking about work.

Get inspired. Visit a museum, gallery, botanical garden... anything that will not only get your mind away from the work, but also serve as a garden of ideas. Colors and concepts may not register while you are observing them, but you are likely to see something that you will appreciate design-wise in the future--hopefully, in the immediate future when you return to work.

Ask for help. Lean on a trusted colleague to advise you about your current projects: What would he do? How would he manage his time? What would he tackle first? Is he seeing anything you are not? Consider hiring someone on a short-term basis to help with nagging tasks, such as phone calls and organization.

Get to work. In some cases, if motivation is high but creativity is low, simply going through the motions can help. If you have  projects that needs to be done but do not think you are designing anything worthwhile, do the basics, leaving the design out of it: For example, work on website wireframes and organization rather than visual comps; after that, start all the necessary files you will need for comps (leaving them empty and establishing asset organization), then add plain text to indicate what goes where. Making your brain process the structure of a project may naturally segue into adding design.