The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


February 6, 2014

Feeling uncreative

Question: My mind feels kind of stale. This seems to happen to me in the winter; do you have suggestions of ways I could liven up and stay more creative?

Answer: Get off the mental couch and get your brain some exercise.


How do you feel when you’re mentally engaged? Close your eyes, focus on your breathing, and let yourself re-experience the physical and emotional sensations that you have when you’re feeling creative and energetic.

Think about the activities that bring about the feeling of engagement. They could be mental or physical: writing, cooking, drawing, playing games. If you’re in the moment with your activity, it’ll be having this positive effect.

Now, focus on the reasons you may not be doing energizing activities now. You mention that the winter slows you down. Many people tend to hibernate when there is less light and it’s cold outside. However, this can also trigger seasonal affective disorder (SAD), so consider whether there is some level of depression going on. Identify any other barriers so that you can take action to overcome them.

Note - even if you’re feeling creative, this may look different in the winter than in the summer. Rather than resisting the inward change that you’re experiencing, explore the dynamic and embrace the difference.


There are a million things to do to get yourself thinking fresh thoughts. Check out Daniel Pink’s book “A Whole New Mind“ for some great suggestions and insights, and try these other ideas.

-Make lists: The five people you’d most like to talk to, the five books you wish you were in, the five musicians you’d most like to hear perform.

-Play word games: Crosswords, Qatanga, Words with Friends.

-Go somewhere new: Near home or far from home, but really pay attention to what you’re experiencing.

-Go to the library: Spend time with books and magazines that you’re sure do not interest you - and surprise yourself.

People can help get your brain jumping. If you’ve been spending more time alone, reach out. Find friends who are interested in some new adventures and make a point of finding the time.

Back to the SAD topic. If you have noticed a seasonal pattern, this may be part of the dynamic. In that case, getting a light can make all the difference (I swear by mine). Be sure to look into the options and get one that is powerful enough to help.

Exercise and get fresh air. Even if you’re not a snow bunny, being in nature triggers an energy that keeps your mind fresh. And eat foods that feed the brain - whole, fresh foods are good for everything.

Again, consider what being creative means from a seasonal perspective. If it makes sense that you’d have a more dormant time, don’t equate it with being wasted time. And consider whether binge watching a TV series is truly the way you want to spend time. Or at least balance it with some extra quiet time and reflection.


Shake off a winter slump by trying new experiences and keeping yourself moving.

Liz Reyer is a credentialed coach with more than 20 years of business experience. Her company, Reyer Coaching & Consulting, offers services for organizations of all sizes. Submit questions or comments about this column at or email her at


Text Only
  • A checklist for keeping you focused at work

    A quick check of Facebook and next thing you know, a half-hour’s passed. Start chatting with a co-worker and suddenly 20 minutes is gone and the report you were supposed to finish by lunch is late.


    July 31, 2014

  • Fancy management systems won’t fix bad managers

    In violation of my long-standing “only watch TV” rule, I read an article recently about how Zappos is adopting a management structure known as holacracy.

    July 30, 2014

  • Your Office Coach: Supervisor-employee boundaries must be honored

    QUESTION: Two weeks ago, my husband “Barry“ unexpectedly came home from work with a large flat-screen television. He explained that one of his employees gave it to him as repayment for a loan. I was shocked, because I had no idea that Barry was lending people money.

    July 29, 2014

  • Silly mistakes that sink job applicants

    Some employers won’t care - or won’t catch them - but mistakes in word usage can put your application in the reject pile.

    July 29, 2014

  • Watercooler: Raised to the roof

    Q: Over 15 years, I have worked my way up the corporate ladder with the same organization. I have been given a raise every year and excellent reviews, as well as several promotions.

    July 25, 2014

  • Career Coach Q&A: job search follow-up; introverts as leaders

    Starting a business:

    Q: I have a stable job that I don't hate, but I have an idea for starting my own business.

    July 25, 2014

  • How to become a leader

    QUESTION: I’ve just been promoted into a leadership role. I’m excited, but also kind of overwhelmed. What do I need to do to be good at my new job?

    July 24, 2014

  • Balancing Act: How much is your time worth? Consider outsourcing some tasks

    Todd Paton has a booming business getting customers noticed on the Web. One tool he uses is generating online press releases to build brand awareness and create links that will send traffic to a customer’s website. But Paton, owner of Paton Internet Marketing, acknowledges that writing the releases is not his strong suit. Rather than spend his time doing it, he hires out the task.

    July 23, 2014

  • The Color of Money: No easy way to get out of debt

    Many people who are deeply in debt are desperate for a quick fix. They ask the question: What can I do to get out of debt?

    July 21, 2014

  • Watercooler: When to speak up if you see problems down the line

    Q: Our organization has hired a new director. I am one of a number of division heads; above us, there's the associate director, and above him is the director. The associate director is feared and disliked for his duplicity and dictatorial nature, though few have come forward because of his vindictiveness.

    July 18, 2014

Business Video