How to Stay Creative Away from Work

Having a creative block? Wondering where to start? Read more to find different outlets to keep you motivated at work, and in your everyday life.


WILDDESIGN | How to Stay Creative Away from Work


As designers and innovators, we often get stuck in our normal everyday routine. It’s important to find outlets in order to keep our lives interesting, and creativity stimulated in the office. Most studies show that traveling, exercising, and even meditation all improve our work/life balance, but what about other creative outlets? I’m a person who constantly needs to be productive in order to keep myself sane, but instead of going through my personal schedule, let’s look at some different things I’ve done to stay creative outside of the office.


Set Personal Projects

My mother once told me, “If all you do is flip burgers every day, then that’s all you’ll ever do”.  So what does that mean? It means your day job doesn’t have to be your ONLY job. I came into this field with most of the same intentions that everyone else does, I like being creative. By starting my own personal projects, I’m able to have creative freedom and explore a vast range of ideas and abilities.  A good way to start is through SkillShare. They offer a number of different projects in a range of different fields; they even have a class for brewing your own beer. Most classes cost a small amount (10-20USD) and the majority are at your own pace.


WILDDESIGN | How to Stay Creative Away from Work


Friendly Findings

Most of the time, I get jobs from my friends who are looking for some small designs to help push their careers. I’ve been very lucky that all my “clients” have allowed me to be open creatively and conceptually push their ideas, which in turn, gets me really excited to work on their ideas. Try to take on projects that will push you out of your comfort zone; you’ll find a greater reward when you are able to meet the needs of the project, and push your own limits.  You should be cautious about your personal timelines and office policies though. And another small tip of advice – always charge your friends. You might be generous about your pricing, but your time isn’t free.


Read Something

This may be a trivial one to put in here, but try to make time to read something every day. I prefer to read about philosophy and metaphysics. Philosophy in general, can be mentally stimulating and for a curious mind, it allows for you to truly think about…well, how you think! When you are able to generate and discuss concepts on this level, it increases your ability to analyse thoughts and processes. I find that it helps to not only understand ideas, but to question them as well.  When I’m not on a deep level of contemplation, I also read design articles, news articles, and my small collections of fun things. Hyperbole and a Half is a personal fun favourite, while I enjoy Communication Arts for design inspiration and articles. Make sure you find things that are interesting and stimulating to you.


WILDDESIGN | How to Stay Creative Away from Work


Challenge Yourself

It’s a new year! Try to push yourself to something new once a month. This might be the most difficult of all the ways to stay creative. “What about time?”, “What about money?”, “I don’t know how!” etc. Failure is a daunting fact of human ingenuity. It doesn’t feel good, it can be overwhelming for most, and most importantly, it doesn’t feel good! But with failure comes the opportunity for success and a change of perspective. When you challenge yourself to try something new, it normally leads to a new outlook on that particular subject, thing, or whatever it may be. Back in Texas, I would never have imagined that I would be so open to try so many new things. Here in China, I have a drive to continue to learn and try new things. Success doesn’t come in a simple form, it comes from many different areas and a lot of trial and error.


The main point of finding these outlets is to bring new light and perspective into your work. Of course not all of these will directly affect the way you work, and there are so many different activities and projects that I haven’t even touched on. Over time though, I hope that these and other resources will help you in your personal journey of staying creative and passionate about design, or whatever it is that you do.


Have any more creative ideas? Add yours and talk about what helps you stay motivated!


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Jennifer in two words: Passionate and Tatted. A firm believer that failure is the key to success, happiness takes effort, and never stop learning. She enjoy tacos, The Spurs, good beer, great design, and music festivals.

Originally written by Jennifer Piatkowski, 08. January 2015. Last updated 15. May 2023


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