You have a tight deadline to meet and zero inspiration. Your creative tank is on empty. What to do? For starters, don’t panic. You’re not alone. Everyone goes through a dry spell once in a while. Sometimes stress can be the culprit. Relationship issues, a new job, or sudden hardships can be taxing on mental health and creativity. But what if everything is sunshine and rainbows but you still feel like you’ve squeezed that last little bit of toothpaste from the tube? Below are some tips to fill your tank and help get you back on track.

Find a hobby outside your field of work

Get outside your own box

A creative pastime can help refill that empty tank. Try to find a hobby that uses a different set of creative skills than the ones you use at work. Try some woodworking, start homebrewing beer, or knit a sweater for your cat. This will help stretch your creative muscles without draining the ones you use for work.

Take a step back

Close your computer for a few minutes to get some coffee or go for a walk. When you’re ready, try looking at the project again with fresh eyes.

Organize your workspace

Get a clean start, literally. If your workspace is distracting, it could be the thing that’s draining your tank.

Dive into a creative space

Go to a museum. Find an art gallery opening. Check out an open mic night. By surrounding yourself with creativity, you may just gain a bit by osmosis.

Create something just for you

With no client shaping the outcome, you have full control

This can help reignite that diminishing passion in your work. Find a way to create something just for you. With no constrictions holding you back, you are free to explore concepts and discover new techniques. If you’re a graphic designer, design a poster or t-shirt and get it printed. If you’re a writer, try starting that novel you always wanted to write. If you’re a photographer, photograph your favorite subject and explore new techniques. You are your own boss on this one.

Doodle your notes

Find ways to take a dull task and turn it creative. Draw little icons for each bullet point you jot down. Sketch a cartoon about something funny your coworker said.

Volunteer your skills

Create for good and do some pro bono work. Find an organization in need and donate some spare time.

Find a good playlist

Sometimes all you need are some good jams. Whether it’s Enya or Motorhead, find a playlist to get you in the creative zone.

Collaborate with someone

Be a creative vampire… But play nice

Bringing in a friend or a coworker on a project can help fill your tank and teach you ways of creating you may not have tried before. Find a project that you can team up with someone on and work together to create something powerful! Extra points to those who collaborate with someone outside of their field of expertise. It’s ok to get a little creativity from others now and then. They’re getting the same from you.

Watch a classic movie

Find a prolific director and figure out why they were so successful. Hitchcock, Kubrik, or Fincher would be a great place to start.

Try your hand at cooking

Even if you’ve never boiled water, anything from making a sandwich to a four-course meal can help fuel yourself and your creativity.

Step up your Instagram game

Sharing your work and creative process can help fuel your passion. Plus a few likes here and there can’t hurt the self-esteem.

Sometimes it may feel like it takes creativity you don’t have in order to refill your tank. But if you begin to introduce creatively fulfilling into your daily routine, your tank will begin to fill itself with what feels like no effort at all.

Contributed by Andrew Madson-Olson, Creative Strategist

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