Top Menu

Archive | Productivity Advice

How to Escape a Creative Funk

Have you ever felt stuck in a creative funk?

For some this looks like lack of interest in your craft, and for others there is interest without motivation to act. Intellectually you know this phase won’t last forever, but it can feel frustrating while you’re in the midst of the slump.

You know how good it feels to spend time on your hobby and advance your projects.

How to Escape a Creative Funk

I have been in this place more times than I can count. Truth be told, sometimes I experience fraudy feelings as a creative business owner who struggles with this problem.

Over time, I’ve honed my ability to escape a creative funk by 1) giving myself permission to think and then 2) forcing myself to stop. This was the process that led to my album approach and a more recent transition to creating hybrid pocket pages.

Here’s how to try it for yourself:

Step-by-Step Plan for Getting Out of a Creative Funk

1. Identify and accept the situation. You can’t start making your way through and out of a slump without recognizing that it’s there. Instead of running a negative internal monologue, remind yourself that it’s normal to sometimes feel uncreative.

2. Take note of any life changes or unique obstacles. While it’s quite common to experience a downturn in creative energy for no specific reason, it’s always worth taking a look at the season of life you’re in right now. Has anything changed recently?

3. Look for possible course corrections. If crafting feels like you’re swimming upstream, it could be time to change direction. That could look like adjusting your expectations, switching up formats, or working to find your most creative time of the day.

4. Schedule a 15-minute creative date and follow through. This step is the clincher because you need to transition from thinking in your head to acting in the real world. Sometimes you can get so wrapped up in your own internal dialogue that you forget what it feels like to create.

5. Repeat #4 until your creative funk is gone. You may feel some resistance as you get started again and again, but it will get easier. The key is to maintain the 15-minute boundary to help ensure you can always find time to fit it in.

We all go through periods of low motivation. It’s a natural and normal part of the creative process. A thoughtful pause will move you in the right direction, but ultimate you must create your way out of a funk.

Continue Reading

To the Mom Who Can’t Find Time to Scrapbook

To the Mom Who Can’t Find Time to Scrapbook,

I see you getting up early to make sure everyone gets out the door in one piece, calling coffee your first meal of the day.

I see you with the baskets of laundry to fold, feeling half-accomplished that you got it washed, yet frustrated by all those wrinkles.

I see you patiently tucking in your little one and her stuffed animals, staying longer than you’d like because she wants you to.

As you close her door ever-so-quietly, I see you briefly glance towards your craft room and wish you had the energy to go in.

This season of life is full, there is no doubt. Your energy is invested in raising your family and there seems to be not much left for you.

This season of life is full, there is no doubt. Your energy is invested in raising your family and there seems to be not much left for you.

You wouldn’t change a thing, yet you long to feel more nourished, more inspired.

You recognize the incredible village you have, yet you’re a little embarrassed that life still feels a bit lonely.

I see your pride with each photo taken.

I see you sharing your heart on Facebook.

I see you celebrating everyday life on Instagram.

I see you scheming and dreaming on Pinterest.

I see your eagerness each time you sign up for a class.

I see your joy for crafting as you purchase new supplies.

Yet, I don’t see you creating very much.

To the Mom Who Can't Find Time to Scrapbook

When you have the time, you’re too tired or too frustrated.

When you have the inspiration, you’re “supposed” to be doing something else.

I see you running yourself ragged, taking care of everything and everyone but you.

But, this isn’t a surprise. You know you’re supposed to be taking care of yourself.

I see you reading articles about morning routines.

I see you trying the Whole30.

I see you going to bed earlier.

You’re on the cusp. You’re ready.

You’re ready to feel in control, full of energy for doing more than just getting by.

You’re ready to stop feeling guilty about spending time scrapbooking.

You’re ready to fill your well by confidently creating more.

You’re ready to make new friends who know your real-life struggles and share your biggest dreams.

You’re ready to accept permission to take time for you, because I know it makes you a better mom for me.

Love,

Your Little One

Continue Reading

Follow These Steps to Fill Your Creative Well

From the bright sun beating down on your shoulders to the flickering of candles on a breezy evening, summer is a season of contrasts. No contrast is more obvious than the rollercoaster between periods of abundant activity and of restful near-laziness. That’s what summer is all about.

However, neither state is particularly conducive to creativity. Either you’re genuinely too busy to squeeze it in or simply too chilled out to muster the energy. And while not scrapbooking (for now) is a perfectly acceptable option, many memory keepers find they miss it.

This hobby, unlike other crafts, uniquely capitalizes on our compulsion to document life and our deep-rooted desires to create something from nothing. Where it might be easier to justify that we’ll “get to it” later, it is much more challenging to escape the very real need for personal time to recharge.

Follow These Steps to Fill Your Creative Well

Thus it is at a time when a scrapbooker’s well is often empty due to circumstance that she most needs a fill-up. In this post I want to offer a few easy steps you can take to fill your creative well, this summer or whenever you need to reconnect with yourself and your passions.

Step #1. Acknowledge That You’re “On Empty”

We can get so caught up in the day-to-day that it becomes difficult to see when something isn’t working. The frustration gets lost in fray and, often, hidden by techniques of procrastination and distraction. Summer is supposed to be this joyful time, so guilt can simply compound the problem.

However, if you can identify this stage of feeling drained, you can begin to address it. A simple self-acknowledgement of “I need to take care of myself” can be a powerful tool to help you start feeling better, whether the solution is creative activity or something else entirely.

Action Item: Rate the level of your “creative well” on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the most “full”.

Step #2. Identify Your True Cravings

Once you realize the well is empty, you get to choose what will fill it best. You might simply be craving time in solitude and it doesn’t matter how you use it. You might be feeling out of control and thus, working on organization would instill a sense of order.

Or, and perhaps most commonly, you might just need to make something to remember what this form of deep personal satisfaction feels like. This understanding will help you make better decisions, ones that fulfill your needs and honor your unique challenges in this season of life.

Action Item: Visualize yourself doing a specific activity that feels refreshing and/or restorative.

Step #3. Deliberately Set Aside Time to Recharge

A true recharge of your creative well requires more than a pledge to “do better”; it begs for a real step back and intentional steps forward in a new direction. Otherwise, the momentum of inaction will continue to carry you.

Fortunately, this doesn’t require a week-long vacation or an unrealistic amount of time. Filling your well simply needs a consistent investment of attention and energy, even if the duration is actually quite brief. This could look like placing creativity on the front burner of your mind and dedicating just 30 minutes a day to action.

Action Item: Set aside a block of time, such as a specific week, where you will devote a portion of your focus to that restorative activity.

The best thing about this process is that you can follow it again and again, whenever you feel tapped out but crave creativity.

Continue Reading

The Memory Keeper’s Guide to a Relaxing Vacation

As I lay on the pool float, I look up at the cloudless blue sky and quietly tell myself “relax”. Almost on cue my mind starts racing to all the things I could or should be doing, listening to the chatter both inside my head and in the world, interrupting this peaceful moment.

Relaxation is not my biggest strength and thus, I might be under-qualified to write this post. However, I’ve worked hard to let go of anxiety and mold my hobby to the life I desire. I’m relaxed about scrapbooking, even if I need to strive for that ease in other areas of my life.

The Memory Keeper's Guide to a Relaxing Vacation

In this post I want to help you feel more mellow about an upcoming adventure by ensuring that the least of your worries is memory keeping. Now I’m not suggesting that you stop capturing moments with your camera, but that you launch into vacation feeling ready.

Avoid these common photo dilemmas with a pre-vacation checklist.

While things can and likely will go wrong, you can use this list of challenges to reduce photo-related anxiety during and after your trip.

1. Your battery dies and you miss the moment. While battery life has always been a concern, the drain on our multi-function devices today makes it all the more important to have a plan.

  • Charge any devices or rechargeable batteries at least two days prior to leaving.
  • Pack needed charging cables and battery chargers, including portable chargers.

2. Your memory card is full. There’s nothing worse than running out of “film” half-way through a trip. Make sure to plan ahead for adequate space so you don’t get stuck.

  • Clear off devices and memory cards to maximize available space.
  • If applicable, bring an additional empty memory card.

3. You forget the names of people and places. Big trips don’t always get scrapbooked right away, but the details that seem so vivid right now will fade.

  • Bring a small notebook to write down key dates and facts to jog your memory later.
  • Use social media or your favorite photo storage site to document some of the details on the fly.

4. You break or lose your camera. The worst is possible, even if not likely, so extra insurance for your memories is worth the effort.

  • Use cloud-based syncing on phones, such as Dropbox Camera Upload or iCloud Photo Sharing, to ensure that a copy is automatically sent elsewhere.
  • If possible, ensure that someone else in your family (even a child) is also taking photos of your vacation with a separate camera.
  • If a laptop is taking the trip, consider making it a habit to offload photos each night.

5. You aren’t in any of the photos. As the family memory keeper, you’re likely taking most of the photos.

  • Consider bringing a tripod, shutter remote, and/or a selfie-stick to help you get into more of the photos.
  • Be conscious of your presence in the visual story, making sure to ask others to snap your picture.

6. You return home with more than 1,000 photos. When the sights are once-in-a-lifetime, it can feel tempting to make your memories from behind the lens.

  • Think about how you want to scrapbook this vacation, if at all. Having a high-level plan will boost your confidence in having “just enough” pictures.
  • Create a habit of taking a few photos and then putting your camera away to more deeply enjoy the experience.

Just an ounce of effort before your trip could prevent a pound of relaxation-interrupting frustration. And if you’re anything like me (i.e. wound a bit tight), you’ll take all the help you can get!

Continue Reading

How to Feel Truly Content with Your Scrapbooking Progress

Over the years I’ve written a variety of posts sharing the status of my scrapbooking projects. They’ve been among the most popular, I suppose because we all have a bit of voyeur in us. We love to peek in the window.

This is not one of those posts.

I could tell you how I started a mini album for a class three years ago and finished just enough to teach it. I could tell you how I’ve been meaning to scrapbook a story about meeting my husband a decade ago, but I keep getting intimidated by the significance. I could run down the list of all the projects I wish I had started or finished.

Just like yours, my hobby is forever in progress.

The difference, perhaps, is that I’ve completely embraced where I’m at. I don’t feel behind. I’m proud that, as a memory keeper, I do something with some of my photos. (Thank you for that phrase Stacy.)

If you’re on board and at ease with this approach to simplifying scrapbooking, I’m so thrilled for you. You should go make something after you check out what I’m sharing at the bottom of this post.

How to Feel Truly Content with Your Scrapbooking Progress

However, if you’re still struggling to feel truly content with your progress (or lack thereof) then I hope that this post can make a difference for you. Below I’m sharing specific actions you can take this season to shift your thinking and consequently, get more done.

Creativity loves when you embrace what’s real.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a crafter, it’s that guilt and operating from a “lack” mindset will zap your motivation. However, when you see today for what it is, abundant and imperfectly beautiful, it’s must easier to find creative flow. Here’s how you can adjust your mindset in an impactful way:

1. Seek real, literal focus. When there are too many tasks swirling around in your head, it can feel challenging to get started. Thus making any progress becomes next to impossible. However, when you fight for concentration it will reward you with visible success.

Focus begins with selecting one single task to complete. Then, if needed you can use a timer or one of the many apps that use the Pomodoro Technique to help block out distractions and stay in the moment with your task.

2. Know that every victory counts. There’s often a temptation to only judge success by finishes. However, the creative journey becomes that much more enjoyable when you celebrate every milestone along the way. Even if you can only scrapbook for 15 minutes or finish a single page, it counts and it moves you forward.

Feeling content with your progress means finding genuine satisfaction in the act of showing up and any baby steps you take. Try letting go of the “all or nothing” perspective to start view the fruits of your focus.

3. Be confident in your way. It’s important to also remember that only you can define what progress really looks like. As a scrapbooker, you get to write the rules and use products/formats that best meet your needs. Sometimes that looks like what everyone else does, but more often it simply looks like what you do.

When you trust the methods that come naturally to you, you’ll not only feel more positive about your hobby but also leverage those strengths to make progress quicker. Your way is the only way that really works.

Do know know what’s important?

The book-end to this attitude adjustment is far more practical. (Cue sigh of relief.)

It’s a lot easier to embrace what’s real if you know what that is. In other words, make lists of what you want to start, work on, or finish. You may have noticed that I mention this often here.

Then, look into the future and ask “What will I most want to remember?” Those are the projects that deserve your attention and will help you continue to keep guilt at bay. If you can’t do everything (and I assure you, you cannot), then you can at least make purposeful choices about what you will do.

Finding peace with your progress doesn’t have to be difficult, but it might require adjusting your expectations. No matter what’s unfinished or not yet begun, you are doing enough.

You simply have to believe it.

Continue Reading