It happens to everyone. . . those days when our brain can't think of any new, fresh, ideas. Ironically, it tends to happen when we are crunched for time and need to move forward with our event planning. Don't despair! Here are a few tips for changing the lightbulb that floats above your weary grey matter.
Do the Blah Work First
Set a timer and make a goal to get the mundane tasks out of the way first. This may include data entry, paperwork, etc. Completing your least favorite task gives you a sense of accomplishment that allows you to be creative without that cloud of Ughhh hanging over you.
Next To Godliness
You guessed it! As the old saying goes, "cleanliness is next to Godliness." In my book cleanliness offers us a clean slate for brainstorming. Don't overwhelm yourself and pretend you're on the Clean Sweep TV show or anything. If you don't have time to be meticulous, set smaller goals of improvement, rather than skipping this step altogether. Clear and wipe down your desk. Put away 10 things each time you enter your office; put 10 things in file folders. Several small efforts are better than putting off the big overhaul.
Change Your Routine
This seems silly, but a few simple changes to our routine, can get us thinking outside the box again. Pick a different coffee shop on the way to work; order that new gooey cinnamon-y thing on the menu. Bring a picnic lunch and eat outside, somewhere new. Re-arrange your office; change the direction that your desk or chair faces; try working remotely; play new music; take a break at a different time than usual; light a scented candle. You get the idea. Breaking your routine allows you to notice new things, and makes your brain shift out of auto-pilot mode which requires no new thought or creativity.
This is not what type-A event planner people generally like to do. You likely make detailed lists for your own vacations. Is the weather beautiful? Take a day trip somewhere. Explore. Wander. Ponder. Don't have a day off? Take a walk somewhere new; drive a different route home; eat somewhere you've never tried. Again, this is breaking the auto-pilot setting our brain has when we follow our habitual routine. Being spontaneous will open you up the new thought possibilities.
Don't skip this one! Do a screen fast - you know, turn off the devices, televisions, computers, (except, of course to read my great blogs! *wink*). Screen fasting has made a huge difference in our company - my sister and I decided not to check work email after business hours (unless of course we are in production week.) After looking at a screen all day, we try to find alternative ways to relax when we get home. Rather than going straight to the TV or internet we might play an instrument, read a book on the beach, play a card game, walk the dog, go out with friends.
Go To Another Event
Attend an event you didn't plan! Don't nit pick - just sit back and soak in the experience. Being an attendee reminds us of what our guests feel and think. Don't just rely on post event survey data to guide your planning ideas - the attendee experiece can be more fully realized when it is experienced. Okay, I'll let you bring one teeny tiny little notepad to jot down ideas, but promise me you will play the part of the guest 90% of the time.
Don't set your goals too high or you will never achieve them. Give your self attainable goals that you can build from. I am not a runner, but I do love to walk - walking re-sets my brain. Yoga is also very helpful - particularly when you focus on deep breathing. Bring your awareness to the present while exercising. When we always focus on our future "To Do List" we miss thoughts and ideas that float across the present.
Brain Booster Exercises
If you've gotten this far and your are still experiencing a brick wall when it comes to being creative, try the following exercises.
1. Go to a Garage Sale, Antique Store, Flea Market. Find an object, any object, and challenge yourself to come up with three alternative uses for it. For example you may think to yourself, "hmmm . . . I could store thumbtacks in this vintage dish, or maybe it could be a vase, or I could crunch it up with a hammer and use the pieces as mosaic tiles for a new stepping stone in my garden." Got the idea?
2. Set a timer for 2 minutes. Sit somewhere comfortable and close your eyes. During that time, think about every sound you hear. You will be amazed how interesting the quiet can be. This is a really good way to isolate the senses and pick up on things you may have missed before.
3. Do something lightly artistic for 5-10 minutes. For some this may be drawing a Zen Tangle, coloring in a coloring book (yes they make them for grown-ups too), knitting, sewing, paper origami. I find this is helpful for a brain that is very busy - it gives you something to focus on that is not overly taxing.
4. Notice things. Set a timer for one minute. During that time, take in a panoramic image of your surroundings. Do this slowly and tell yourself what you see down to the individual leaves on trees and the lady bug that landed on your arm. When we are busy being over-achievers we miss out on the detail around us. Training yourself to notice and appreciate even the tiniest details will help you absorb new thoughts and ideas that may have been before you all along.
Still Don't Have The Creative Juices Flowing?
Well, sorry to tell you, you're hopeless. Just kidding! Sometimes the stress of life just can't be avoided. Don't fret - I have more ideas than I have the opportunity to use - so feel free to take some of them!
- Rent massage chairs for a Wellness or Sports convention
- Ocean theme - consider Jello dessert served in small fishbowls with gummy fish inside
- Blacklight White Tie - Make your gala groovy with black lights illuminating your white tie dress code
- Hire professional dancers to blend in with your guests on the dance floor to start the dancing and perhaps even break out in a spontaneous routine
- Create mini "living rooms" instead of typical banquet tables to encourage visiting and relaxation.
- Rent a bounce house for the team executives
- Have your speaker ride in on a white horse
- Create a life size board game with guests as the pieces
- Have a "journalist" conduct interviews, take photos and write stories for a daily newspaper at your events
- Have a murder mystery written for your convention with clues emerging every day the entire week
- Hire a marching band to escort your guests to the next room or venue follow-the-leader-style
Now it's your turn!
I always enjoy hearing your tips, tricks, and ideas! Feel free to post what has worked for you, or event ideas that you don't have the opportunity to try that maybe someone else can use. Best wishes on your events!
Lacy Miller is an events and live entertainment professional with SSL Entertainment and The Gracie & Lacy Show based in Charleston, SC.