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How to get out of an inspiration slump at work

By Steph Knapp · December 16, 2021
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There's been a lot of talk about workplace boredom in my house recently. My partner's been burned out with his projects since he's created content in the same niche for years now. He's grateful for what he does, but the sameness has left him feeling like he's been living on autopilot. 

I've felt like that at times before, and I figured we probably weren't alone. So I asked people what they do when they're in an inspirational slump, and it turns out everyone has thoughts—because everyone's been there. Here's what I learned.

1. Talk directly to the end-user

It's easy to feel disconnected from the people on the other side of your work. After all, you spend most of your time on your tasks or talking to your team. When you get caught up in the day-to-day, it helps to remember the people.

Customer support logs are a great place to reconnect with the purpose of your work (not to mention, they give you a gold mine of blog post ideas). Megan Kopalasingam, Content Strategist at Clio, also recommends reaching out to your community:

I usually go to Twitter, LinkedIn, and Reddit to see what the audience is talking about. If possible, investigating branded communities or other groups is really helpful. I'll also DM leaders in the space—these convos are always so fruitful IF the right questions are asked.

Victoria Hovsepyan, an illustrator and designer, is another advocate for using social listening and asking customers what they want to know. You're doing whatever you're doing to benefit the end-user, and getting their insights can be just the inspiration boost you need.

2. Spotlight your team and community 

You can also find inspiration from your team. Sometimes that means brainstorming with a colleague you don't usually talk to (diverse perspectives help a lot), but depending on your role, internal inspiration might be a bit more literal.

Maria West, a copywriter and content manager, suggests spotlighting a team member or customer in your marketing. Maria uses this strategy to write her Wise Women On The Rise series, and Daniela Milosheska did the same with her Cool Faces of Bastet Noir series.

A screenshot of an entry in the Wise Woman on the Rise series
Image via House of Wise

The Zapier marketing team also likes to look inward for ideas. They have team members from every department contribute to their blog, talking about their productivity systems, app use, and professional tips.

Sometimes, if you're in a slump, you just need to pull in a fresh point-of-view.

3. Invest in learning

Getting out of your comfort zone can re-invigorate you—and teach you a thing or two along the way. Penny Adams, a pet photographer, found a burst of inspiration after attending a three-day workshop. Instead of losing productivity to the three days away, she was able to come back refreshed and ready to go.

A screenshot of an Instagram post from Penny Adams describing her experience

If your work is starting to feel mundane, consider taking a course, attending a conference, or learning an adjacent skill. Finding a community of like-minded professionals can also expose you to new perspectives. However you're doing it, if you're getting out of your comfort zone, you're less likely to settle into your slump.

4. Spend time on an entirely different topic

If trying a new angle on the same topic isn't working, how about abandoning your niche altogether for a moment? Jason Bradwell, the Senior Director of Group Marketing and Communications at Deltatre, turns to fiction writing to give his ideas space and time to form. Here's Jason:

Read fiction. 

It's tempting to dive deeper into the subject matter to try and unlock the next insight, but reading something creative helps my brain relax without totally switching off.

If you're a content creator of any kind, you can use this strategy within the content itself. Magan Le, the Senior Email and Lifecycle Marketing Manager at Bolt, does just that:

Two ideas: Put a fun spin to it (like a sci-fi theme) or think from a contrarian point of view (what NOT to do or why someone would think the opposite)

It's beyond just thinking outside the box—it's closing the box and putting it in storage.

5. Celebrate small wins

Focusing only on big goals (and how far away you are from them) is demoralizing. To help curb idea slumps in the future, set up a way to automate positivity. A simple weekly reminder in Slack for your team to share their wins helps everyone appreciate the journey. 

A Slack message with text that reads: "Winner winner chicken dinner! It's Friday, so it's time to share your wins and humblebrags for the week. It can be about yourself or another teammate." A GIF below the text has the caption "I win."

6. Let yourself be bored

Sometimes you'll be sick of working on the same thing every day. That's ok! While you can't ignore the task at hand, you can lean in to the lack of excitement. Feeling uninspired isn't always something you need to force yourself to fix, and in fact, boredom can be good for productivity.

Anthony Garone, a technical content writer, finds that "boredom is the breeding ground for a great idea," and he creates that boredom by taking a walk (which can absolutely boost your creativity). Similarly, Manuel Weiss, founder of thisisgoodmarketing, recommended the book On Doing Nothing: Finding Inspiration in Idleness

Inspiration is a spectrum, not a switch

Try as we might, inspiration can take time to return. I've learned from this exploration into reigniting creativity that (a) inspiration slumps happen to everyone and (b) they might not disappear overnight. Hopefully, the tips shared here can help you if you're feeling disenchanted.

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A Zap with the trigger 'When I get a new lead from Facebook,' and the action 'Notify my team in Slack'