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As a designer at a digital marketing agency, I love what I do. But sometimes I find myself stuck and unmotivated. Here are some tips and tricks that give me the boost I need when things get stale.

1. Reward Yourself
As designers, we often have a long list of things that need to be done by the end of our day. Some are small. Some are, quite frankly, scary. My advice here is to make a list and make sure every time you scratch something off, you give yourself a reward. It could be candy or maybe a funny cat video on YouTube. Reward yourself. (I know I will be after I finish writing this.)

2. Attitude is Everything
Sometimes you work on projects that don’t seem to be going the way you want them to. Maybe things have gotten monotonous or things just aren’t clicking. Either way, it often feels like someone is sucking the happiness out of your life. When things get tough, stay positive. Complaining and being unhappy isn’t going to get you any closer to your goal. But if you are positive and open to new ideas, a solution to your problem may come your way.

3. Get Away
I sit at a desk with 4 separate screens (one of which is 8 times the size of my face), I’m expected to answer my phone and email promptly, keep up with print design, web design, website development, social media trends, television trends, shopper marketing trends, etc. etc. And I sit in an office with no walls, which means I’m expected to have conversations with people and be able to talk about a project and concept whenever the need arises. With all of this going on, it’s easy to forget that other things exist in life, like trees. Not paper, trees. Go outside every once in awhile. Not just in your backyard – in the middle of the woods. You will come back with a clear mind ready to tackle any problem.

4. Become Inspired
Whenever I’m in a design rut, I find it helpful to look at other designs. Before I start any project, I look to see what other people are doing for similar brands. I decide what’s working and what’s not. I pull swipe and inspirational designs. I create mood boards, and then I sketch. Why start with nothing when you have a vast supply of inspiration at your fingertips?

5. Create Lots of Things and Take Risks
If you want to stay motivated, keep moving. It’s easy to get stuck in a style or to design things the way you always have, but eventually you’re going to get bored and that means so will the people you are designing for. I try to challenge myself weekly, either by learning a new tool or by tackling a new illustration style. Either way, it keeps me on my design-toes and makes sure I never get boring.

These are five tips that work to keep me motivated as a designer, but i think they are applicable to whatever career you are in. What motivates you? Leave me a comment below and then click here for your reward (see #1 above).


Comments »

2 comments on How to Stay Motivated: 5 Ways to Get Unstuck

Allison Braun says:

Danielle, thank you so much for this little pick-me-up! I definitely agree with #3, especially the part where you say “With all of this going on, it’s easy to forget that other things exist in life, like trees.” Fortunately, I live 5 minutes away from the office, so I like to treat myself to at-home lunches (even when we’re swamped) just so I can pet my cats and remind myself that there’s more to life than work. It puts things in perspective and lifts my spirits for the long afternoon ahead.

I also like you suggestion to try a new tool or illustration style each week to keep things fresh. It’s been a while since I’ve mixed it up since we’ve been so busy. I’ll have to treat myself to a new Photoshop tutorial when I get back to work after break. Thanks for the blog post!

December 20, 2012 @ 10:07 am

Leslie Van Zee says:

Thanks for this post! I agree with Danielle that it is a nice pick-me-up. My favorite part is #5, about taking more risks. Sometimes we get stuck just because we are afraid of the outcome of a project. But it is always better to put something out there and get real feedback rather than just holding back and not knowing.

December 21, 2012 @ 1:57 pm

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