Take a Brainstorming Day, Even if It Upsets the Dog

We all get into a slump, and if you’re like me and you work 10- to 12-hour days in the same windowless office day in and day out – including weekends – then you’re more prone to slump than most.

I’ve been feeling particularly slump-y lately. I wasn’t feeling inspired by my work. Every little thing was getting to me. I was exhausted by mid-afternoon no matter how much caffeine I poured down my throat. I was burnt out.

This week, it’s been particularly bad, like “I don’t want to get out of bed” bad. Because sometimes the slump just seems to become a double-slump no matter how good business is or how much you have to do.

A few weeks ago, a colleague sent me a book that I had been dying to find the time – and frankly, the energy – to read and review for their firm. I took a look at my inbox, considered my energy level, and decided that this morning, I was just going to read it.

I didn’t read it at my desk. I didn’t read it on the couch. No, Sam I Am, I read it walking around the first floor of my house, where there are windows and where I could turn overhead lights on and where I could just move a bit. I read it out loud, scribbling notes and asterisks in the margins in vibrant green ink, so I could really get into it. I did something different for the first Thursday in a long time. I focused on learning.

It’s an amazingly thought-provoking book, everything I hoped it would be, and my review will soon follow on this blog, but that isn’t the best part.

I took notes while I was reading, building my upcoming blog post as I went along. But I didn’t use the iMac in my office to write; I opened my laptop up on the kitchen counter and typed from there. And then suddenly, I had an idea for how I could write another blog post, one that has been scampering around in my mind for a while but for which I didn’t have a good angle.

Two blog posts in a couple hours? (And that’s not counting this one!) Just because I’m standing at the kitchen counter, solely focusing on refining my craft, and despite the fact that my dog was significantly put out that I’m not sitting somewhere where she can keep an eye on me comfortably? I’ll take it!

But then something else happened. I wanted to crow about my productivity. I figured I might infect other slump-sufferers on my Facebook and Twitter pages.

I had a thought that I was like a cheetah, a sprinting, soaring cheetah – racing along from amazing creative goal to exciting new idea effortlessly and gracefully. But I needed a cheetah picture to really accent the post.

My search for suitably enthralling cheetah photos led me to a website that described cheetahs and their risk for extinction. At the bottom was a prompt to donate to a wildlife-related charity, sponsored by a major corporation. I checked it out, I donated, I posted the cause to our Facebook page instead of the cheetah, and then I started thinking even more.

I could actually hear the slump dying, breathing its last breath as my brain formed what could be one of the most exciting ideas I’ve ever had. No, I can’t tell you what the idea is because I think it might be just that good, if you get my meaning.

It’s only 1:45 PM. I have no idea where else my Brainstorming Day will take me, but I’m adding it into my calendar and declaring it a quarterly 816 holiday. Quarterly holidays? Holy geez – another great idea!

22-year veteran of strategy: brand, business, organizational, communications. Certified in project management and regulatory compliance. Fan of dark tea, thick books, peace, and unity.

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Sue
Sue
9 years ago

It was so fun following the twists and turns your mind made as you let your creativity flow! A lesson for us all in not letting the mundane get to us.

Sarah Williams
9 years ago
Reply to  Sue

That was the idea, and of course, you caught it. Thanks for traveling along with me!

Ted Waldron
Ted Waldron
9 years ago

Excellent post. I am interested in learning what the book was you were reading! I know how it feels to get a sudden burst of creativity/productivity. That’s why I try to work in different places as often as I can. I often do some of my best work with a cafe latte from the coffee shop in the local library. It is by far my favorite place to be creative.

Sarah Williams
9 years ago
Reply to  Ted Waldron

Thanks so much, Ted! I’m going to have to start moving around more, it turns out. Thanks for the LinkedIn connection request, too! I’m looking forward to networking with you. Here’s the link to the review I was working on yesterday: http://www.816nyc.com/2012/10/12/how-we-know-that-more-than-60-of-firms-will-increase-their-online-marketing-budgets-this-year/

Wendy
Wendy
9 years ago

What was the book?!

Sarah Williams
9 years ago
Reply to  Wendy
Sarah Williams
9 years ago

Wow, so much curiosity about the book – the authors will love that! I’ve posted my review and added the link above, but I also think that this goes beyond the book itself. It’s about taking the time to nurture your own experiences as a professional, something that, when you’re in a services-based business, you’re not often likely to do. Of course, the work must get done and it will, but from time to time, simply reading a book about a topic you’re passionate about or finding the time to just do whatever comes stream-of-consciousness can be restorative.