Whether you’re a designer, developer, blogger, SEO or any other kind of web pro, it seems inevitable that your website will frequently be your last priority. You know that you need fresh content, a new design, and plenty of updates about what you’ve been working on, but it always seems to get pushed to the bottom of the list. When you do get round to it, it’s often at a point where you’re doing it because it needs to be done, not because you’re inspired. With that in mind, here are some tips to get you back at the top of your game.
Make a specific task list
The key here is to keep the list as short as possible whilst still remaining specific. Avoid things like ‘Complete redesign’, because straight away you’ll feel dispirited. Instead, stick to specifics such as ‘Change colour scheme’, ‘Rework navigation’ etc., but try not to have more than seven or eight items on your list at any one time. If you really need to, work through most of your list and then add some fresh tasks.
Don’t aim to complete tasks as quickly as possible
It’s tempting, but the quality of your work will always suffer. Instead, put rough dates you aim to have each task complete by: stick to ‘week commencing’ rather than specific days to avoid feeling disheartened or forcing yourself to work faster.
Creating a mood or inspiration board, either physically or using something like Pinterest.com, can really help kickstart your ideas. Start with a particular colour, topic or style to trigger ideas, and use Google Reader and Google Images to expand on your ideas. It doesn’t necessarily have to be filled with examples of inspirational design work or writing either – images or words that evoke a certain mood or atmosphere can be even more inspiring. This also helps you be more creative with your own work, means you can avoid accidental copying, and prevent you feeling dispirited.
Take the first step
Typical advice for getting out of a rut involves getting away from your desk, taking a walk, making a cup of coffee or similar. In fact, tackling an easy and/or appealing task on your list is often the best thing to do. Getting away from it all often means you’ll procrastinate more; making a cup of coffee leads to opening a packet of biscuits which leads to getting distracted online, and so on. Often it’s the thought of getting started that’s the hardest part, so once you’ve established where to begin, give yourself half an hour with a task. You might be surprised how much you can accomplish, and how much more motivated you are to carry on.
Set aside a specific slot
One way to avoid pushing tasks to the bottom of your priority list is to assign them a specific time slot in your week. It doesn’t necessarily have to be within your ‘official’ working week; in fact an evening or a half day at the weekend can often work better. It might be hard to give up free time initially, but you’ll feel much better once you’ve achieved the things of your list and they’re off your mind. If you’re working on multiple personal sites or projects, give each a specific time slot and avoid working on too many different things at once.
Make your website more manageable
If you frequently have trouble keeping on top of updates, and your last blog entry was published in August 2012, it’s time to have a rethink. Dates are often best avoided on portfolios, and that goes for project work as well as posts and articles. Stick to examples of your best work, and that way there’s less pressure on you to update. Where you can simplify your navigation, content and design, do it. A minimal look is a great way to present your work and is also much less distracting for visitors.
What are your tips for dealing with a creative rut? Let us know in the comments!