15 Tips To Avoid Designer’s Block

by Matt on November 30, 2008 · 24 comments

in How-To,Work and Productivity

It’s getting late. You need to finish a project for a very important client. You sit down and start working, but no matter what, nothing good comes out. Designer’s block. It happens to everybody, but there are ways to avoid it.

Image by b_unit

1. Warm Up

One of the best techniques for avoiding designer’s block is warming up. This could mean sketching or getting inspired. Get your creativity and ideas flowing. This is a great way to prevent designer’s block.

2. Always Get Inspired

I think always starting out by looking for inspiration is key. There are many designers who start out a project by searching the web for inspiration. So, whenever you take on a new project, start by looking for inspiration. It’s a good habit to get into.

3. Move on to Something New

If you are getting stuck, then do something different. This could mean moving on to a different project or doing something completely different. You should also avoid designing everyday, because being on the computer all the time isn’t good for you. Just take a break every so often.

4. Work Somewhere Else

If you are really getting stuck, try working somewhere else. Possibly take your laptop to a coffee shop, or work outside.

5. Get Outside

Getting outside in the sun is a great thing to do when you are stuck. It allows you to clear your mind and relax.

6. Get Some Exercise

Getting outside on a daily basis is necessary and getting exercise is even better.

7. Don’t Think

You hear that a lot in sports. You can perform better if you just don’t think about what you’re doing. This also applies when designing. Clear your head of all the pressure and just start working. Focus on what you are doing.

8. Talk to Other Designers

If you can, talk to other designers. This could be a colleague or a friend. If you use Twitter, try talking to people on Twitter. Use other people to help you brainstorm ideas.

9. Doodle

Just start drawing whatever comes to mind. Seriously. It helps you think more freely and expand your creativity.

10. Listen to Music

Music is a great source of inspiration for designers.

11. Work on a Personal Project

Instead of just working for clients, try working on something for yourself. Try doing some concept work or just start illustrating something completely random.

12. Think Differently

Try thinking differently in terms of style. For example, if you are usually a minimalist, then try a different style once in a while. This also works for specific projects too. If the client is looking for something simple, then try something complex. Just play around with it a bit.

13. Clean Your Workspace

If your desk is getting cluttered, then clean it up. Organizing your workspace can help you to organize your mind.

14. Get/Do Something New

Try something new. This could be trying a new field of design or maybe buying something new, like a new tablet.

15. Find Inspiration In The City

Instead of going through the internet for inspiration, take a walk through the city. Design inspiration is everywhere in the city, on signs, advertisement, you name it.

What’s Your Method?

Everyone has their own techniques. What’s yours? Feel free to share.

Spread the Love:
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Design Float
  • Reddit

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Kaeci December 1, 2008 at 9:18 am

I print or tear out interesting pictures all the time. I pin them above my work desk. When i’m blocked I look up for inspiration and rotate them every so often. It helps to rest my eyes too.

Mark December 1, 2008 at 10:14 am

Great tips to get out of that vacuum that plagues any good Web Design project from time to time.

deb {Markup Dude} December 1, 2008 at 3:34 pm

Personally No. 13 is what i do most of the time. Not only the desktop, workspace, also cleaning out my Email inbox, re-arranging scattered Bookmarks, deleting useless URLs, reading pending feeds also helps.

Also whenever i don’t feel like working or too pressurized to work at the moment, i peep into my RSS reader for some steamy hot pics ;) you know what i mean.

That really relaxes my mind. Then i go out for a walk.

Saneef December 3, 2008 at 2:35 pm

Good Tips!

I do a power nap to reset my head! ;)

theguywhoinventedMAC December 7, 2008 at 8:18 am

hey deb, good thing you didn’t say you go to shower after that.. hahah
my method is the keep my options open, even if i have certain guidelines for the project, i do whatever i please in my design when i am stuck, i make swirls, swooshes, swatches anything, then certain stuff comes to my mind regarding the design that i have to do.

deb {Markup Dude} December 7, 2008 at 3:12 pm


yeah tht too helps man, specially to get a good sleep afterwords ;)

Matt December 7, 2008 at 4:30 pm

Great ideas!

Heather December 7, 2008 at 8:54 pm

“13. Clean Your Workspace
If your desk is getting cluttered, then clean it up. Organizing your workspace can help you to organize your mind.”

Truer words could not be spoken, I always feel so refreshed after cleaning up my desk.

Alexandre J. December 8, 2008 at 5:59 pm

Great post
thanks for the tips

Ciarán Murray December 9, 2008 at 12:44 am

Some nice ideas here. I also really liked Kaeci’s idea. I think i’ll take that one up myself. I often cut out nice pieces of design then end up storing them and not doing anything with them.

Isabel December 10, 2008 at 5:01 am

God! How can you have the same way to work as me? I do very similar stuff. My point 6. is normally wash dishes or something that put me thinking “Hum, I should have washed this yesterday after dinner…” and not about work :)
Keep going! Thank you so much for your tips!

joe December 10, 2008 at 10:29 am

No wonder everything looks the same.

Matt December 10, 2008 at 11:37 am

Number 15 is my fail safe when I’m totally blocked. If I have the time I like to hop on the subway or a bus with a sketchbook and ride around for a bit. Works every time!

Larusso December 11, 2008 at 5:16 am

Great post.

But no. 14 – I would love to have the money to do this! I’d have a tablets etc coming out my a*se.

joyoge designers' bookmark January 5, 2009 at 11:49 am

great post thanks..

Selena January 14, 2009 at 5:03 pm

The best thing I can do when I’m stuck in a rut is to get away from it for a while. I’ll go grab a bite to eat or chat with a friend and just forget about the design project. Before I know it an idea will come to me.

projectautomatika February 3, 2009 at 11:24 am

Very nice ideas. Thanks

Sarah Jane March 23, 2009 at 9:17 pm

I find that doing something very tactile helps- my designwork is itself tactile (jewelry, handcarved) so when i can feel things under my fingers: smooth hair twirling around my fingertip, rough dry bread left out for a day, water splashing on my palms… i find that those textures and elements get transferred to my art!
Great tips!

Alex March 24, 2009 at 9:33 pm

I try this stuff all the time. Being a student kind of forces me to work in small bursts which really messes with my head, so I always blow off new stuff I’m stuck on if I’m already really going on another project.

raf January 17, 2011 at 7:41 am

raf sistem

Thanks for article. It’s good.

dubvader February 7, 2012 at 10:38 am

very nice article . in addition a little bit of weed works very well in my case .
don’t be afraid to explore! inspiration comes when you expect the least , and can be found in “places” you wouldn’t think of.

bilisimci June 28, 2012 at 11:59 am

attractive glossy and round shapes

Leave a Comment

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: