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How to Beat the Zombie Block – 5 Ways to Conquer Design Fatigue!

Recently updated on June 28th, 2013 at 06:09 am

Don’t just sit there, drooling at the screen like an inanimate object! Find ways to beat the designers zombie block!

Every designer has been there. That awful moment when you stare at a blank sketch pad or screen and instead of magic happening there’s…nothing!!! This can go on for hours. You go to bed worried and nervous, hoping that maybe the magic pixies will come in the middle of the night and do the job for you! That rarely happens.

However, I do have a few suggestions that work for me. Maybe they will help you get over the hump:

1. Get All Loosey Goosey!

Firstly, you need to get out of that pressure-keg mindset. Even if that deadline is fast approaching, being anxious and nervous is the worst possible state of mind to try and design and be creative in. Your mind and body are fighting against you; your muscles and mind are wound too tight to be of any use to you. You need to get all loosey goosey.

You need to shake it out, baby! Treat both your mind and muscles to a swim, a walk, a game of foosball with a friend, a relaxing bike ride, or whatever you need to get your mind and body in a more relaxed state. It’s amazing what a bit of physical exercise will do for your body and psyche. A little time walking or playing will release those endorphins that allow your subconscious to discover the design brilliance that has been locked away in the deep caverns of your mind.

And if you’re not the exercise type, another way to get all loosey goosey is by visiting the closest mall and wandering around for an hour or two. You might even consider taking notes about the wealth of designs, products, merchandising, and other great visual input. It’s a great way to get inspired.


2. Feed Your Brain

I’m not going to tell you how surfing the internet will inspire you, because that goes without saying; it shouldn’t be your only source of design input. Going to a gallery, a museum, bookstore, or a library is probably an even better medicine for the design blues. Getting out of the house AND getting to devour some brainfood is often more helpful than being stuck in the same room in the same surroundings.

As a designer, I love nothing more than creating something brilliant but that’s not always possible, especially when you’ve been designing without a break for a long space of time. Don’t let yourself get bored by the idea of designing something. Seek out an artist, a writer, a comic book author or other source of inspiration to re-invigorate your passion for creation.

Inspiration doesn’t have to be as obvious as an art gallery, either. Go see a movie, a play, or a concert. I find that the best ideas come when your mind is most stimulated (don’t forget your notepad!)


3. Don’t be a Design Hermit

Don’t shut yourself off from the world in your fortress of solitude! Find people to bounce ideas off, and if you can’t find anyone, just get out of your stale work environment. Getting away from the same four walls helps to stimulate your mind and give you a fresh perspective. I find that spending time with people gives me the distance from the project that I need to come back to it with new vigor. In times of great design crises I like to wander the park or go to the beach with my daughter to build a big sandcastle.


4. Play with a New Toy

Photoshop and Illustrator are such a necessity for designers and have to be utilized. However, it’s easy to get jaded by the same techniques and methods that these programs offer. It’s nice to find a new program, plugin, brush or app to experiment with and to expand your breadth of knowledge. Using a new toy can really lift your design spirits.

I recently had a design epiphany with my iPad. I’ve been using it to sketch out my ideas and even create artwork (instead of using my Wacom tablet.) Using the iPad apps, Sketchbook Pro and Sketchbook Ink to create certain design elements, I have started getting really excited about designing again. Finding a great design tutorial to play around with is also a fantastic way to get back into the swing of things.


5. Eat…You Fool…Eat! (and Sleep!)

However busy you think you are, don’t forget to eat. Food affects your mood and energy level, and your mood affects your design. Fill your belly full of good things, and you fill your head full of good things! To avoid staring at a blank screen and doing nothing, you need to eat veggies, protein, fruit and all that good stuff. You need it to give you energy, to feel relaxed and to recharge your brain.

Same goes for sleep. Getting plenty of sleep and not trying to work every night into the wee small hours prevents lethargy, poor decision making and stops you from freaking out! Why be a slug when you can be a brilliant butterfly with fresh thoughts and colorful mind?

That ends my list of the most important things you can do to prevent the zombie block! Another good idea to beat the designer blues is to visit our blogsite and read excellent blog posts such as this one to feed your brain in times of design zombieism!

4 thoughts on “How to Beat the Zombie Block – 5 Ways to Conquer Design Fatigue!

  1. Thanks for sharing these tips.

    I’m not a professional designer but I always try to fidget around with my web projects on my own so this comes in quite handy. Especially #4 is pure gold because I know the feeling of plain boredom. Sometimes we simply need a (temporary) change of scenery to get back on track.

    BTW: The first zombie is just perfect, shaking behind the computer screen… 🙂

  2. Hi Frederik. I really enjoyed your article about finding ways to beat procrastination. I would advise people who read this article to also read your piece “Are You Waiting For The (Nonexistent) Perfect Moment?” (click on link above). I couldn’t agree more with the following sentiment: “Stop being passive and start being active.” You are more likely to find a solution to a problem, whether it be a design one, a writing one or a life one, when you have a positive mental conviction.

  3. Hi Phillip. Thanks for the kind comment. I love the work on your Two Moon Gallery site. Let me know if you’d like to use this blogspace to promote this site and these artists. We love supporting design and art in any way we can.

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