This is Part One of a fun new series exploring creativity, beyond the techniques I use in copywriting or PR. Check out part two here.
Cups of coffee are great for focus and energy. But what if you’ve already had one too many? After a lifetime without the daily cup-a-day routine, here are my top 10 tips for staying creative and coherent when tired.
I don’t usually drink much caffeine because I get too wired. I had a cold brewed coffee milkshake last night and a chai latte this morning. Now I’m tired from lack of sleep, and the artificial energy boost is over. Instead, I need to get creative.
A good laugh makes everything feel better, including my energy level. In college, I noticed something awesome. The more I laughed with friends, the longer I could stay awake. The magic in those laughs makes fighting fatigue much easier. Although copywriting and PR has never been a laugh a minute for me, I do sprinkle in funny YouTube videos, amusing conversations, or happy memories to add some levity.
Choose Energizing Music
Your music may vary, but I’d bet that you probably start smiling, tapping your feet, or moving to the beat of a feel-good song. Out of all the fun things I’ve done, making or listening to music is the fastest way to move me emotionally. A pair of earbuds works wonders in public.
Ever had someone throw an ice cube down your back? If so, it sure got your attention. While that’s not too practical, I like to wash my face with cold water or run my wrists under the faucet. A gust of cold air is often enough to snap me awake. It brings my focus out of dreamland and back to the present moment.
Sitting all day is enough to make anyone sluggish. Even though it’s often the opposite of what I feel like doing, I make a point of stretching, standing, or walking. I’d do well to follow my own advice more frequently. It often helps to shift my energy level. It also works the other way. When I’m nervous at night, then moving can start to make me tired.
When I skimp on water, my energy level dips. Nobody seems to agree on an exact amount of caffeine-free fluids to drink, but I suspect that most people are a little like me. I forget the water, and I remember when I’m really thirsty. If I’ve been exercising a lot, I might even crave salt. If I know I’ve been neglecting myself, I set a timer every hour and stand up to get a drink.
Change The Scenery
The simple act of changing my surroundings can make me more alert. It’s also a great way to spark new ideas. Stepping outside, working away from my desk, running an errand, or going somewhere else can help. If I wasn’t blind, I would also try looking at interesting pictures of other places, perhaps somewhere I’ve never been. In all these situations, something new or different might catch my attention or start a brainstorm.
Read Something Fascinating
If I’m not too tired, then appealing to my interests works well. If I’m idely browsing social media, and a headline grabs my attention, I’m suddenly wide awake. Eye-catching ideas are harder to plan, but they’re good when they happen. I have to be careful not to get carried away when using this tip though.
When my motivation goes up, so does my energy. Lots of things motivate me, including deadlines, learning opportunities, hobbies, and good conversations. Any one of these might wake me up very quickly.
Stop What I’m Doing
Many of these tips have one thing in common. I’m switching activities, rather than getting more and more tired as I stay locked into my task. Even a very short break might be enough to change my perspective and rejuvenate a tired mind.
Nap Or Meditate, Eyes Closed
This one often isn’t feasible. Sometimes though, it’s the best way to get more focused time during an exhausting day. For example, long naps are pretty much the only way I can get something done if I’m sick with anything worse than a cold. On a healthier but very sleep-deprived day, even closing my eyes for a few minutes can prevent that tiny headache from getting worse. There are those days when I’ll be able to do way more of what I want if I give in and just sleep for a while. A good example of this is snatching a nap on the bus before an evening networking event.
Wait, Drowsiness Can Be A Good Thing
So far, I’ve been focusing on boosting energy, but sometimes drowsiness actually helps creativity. Some of my most creative ideas come to me when I’m relaxing, or in that twilight state between sleeping and waking. Sometimes, I’ll even use that state to journal. I’ll write, close my eyes, write again, and then sleep really well afterward.
How About You?
What do you do to boost your energy levels at low points in your day? Let me know in the comments.