A concept I thought up years ago to try spark creativity and find inspiration is The Jar Concept.
The basic idea is taking an empty jar and filling it with pieces of paper that have a keyword or instruction written on it. It’s really as simple as that. I’m sure it must have been done before but it’s a great way to find creativity when you’re feeling burnt out or that you’ve run out of ideas.
The words could be instructions as simple as “Design a logo for a rock band” or “Come up with a content calendar for a museum.” Perhaps something you’ve been wanting to try for ages but haven’t had the time or find it particularly daunting.
Let’s look at 6 reasons to give it a try if you’re feeling creatively stuck or even if you’re looking for something a little different to use when generating content ideas and concepts.
1. Acts as a physical reminder
The jar itself can sit on your desk acting as a physical reminder to do one of the self-set tasks. Much like a vision board it reminds you of your goals and what you’re hoping to achieve by implementing this concept.
I keep it on my desk where I can see it while I work. If you have a moment of defeat, take a break to do one of the tasks. It’s up to you how much time you want to allocate to the task.
Sometimes you can cheat and put a task back if you’re not keen on it that day. But don’t remove it! Put it back in the jar for another day – you never know when inspiration will strike.
2. Gets you to think of creative goals
Where do you want to be with your content? Do you want to be writing about cars? Or wildlife? Put keywords into the jar that can help you explore that interest and potentially reach a goal that didn’t feel achievable.
It’s a good way to set your focus – even if you don’t necessarily know what that is. You could even put in “Practice writing taglines for different car brands” and see what you come up with. From there it can offer you direction and an idea as to what you’d be most interested in.
Go in the opposite direction and put in contrasting topics to explore different concepts that may or may not be for you – you’ll never know unless you try.
If you’re feeling stuck, you can even search online for topic ideas and put those in. In the end it acts as a guide to help you get closer to discovering and reaching your creative goals.
3. Offers you a structure
Once you draw a concept from the jar, treat it like a brief. What’s your usual process? Implement the same steps as you would with a client or personal project. It’s great practice to perfect your process or perhaps even find a better way to do something.
The beauty of it is that there’s no time limit. You could spend half an hour on a different topic three times a month or treat one topic as a weekly task. It’s up to you to put the amount of focus you feel you need or want.
This structure can help you stay on track and in turn spark the inspiration you may have been looking for.
4. Gives you a break
The Jar Concept is a good way to take a break from your routine (as scary as that may sound) in order to get a fresh perspective. If you’re stuck on a task for work or a personal project, take out one of the slips of paper and see how you can move your focus on to something removed from your current tasks.
It’s a good way to shift focus and give your mind a break from something you may be stuck on. It can act as an easy win – you may be working on something complicated but now you’ve completed a task from the jar and you can go back to your work knowing that yes, in fact, you do still have it.
Throw in some actual break options such as a 15 minute brainstorm on a topic that’s always fascinated you or even taking a 20 minute walk. I won’t get into how beneficial a walk is but the short answer is: it’s helpful with clearing your mind and finding your focus.
5. Helps with a mind shift
The key to The Jar Concept is getting a second jar that you put the completed tasks in – don’t throw them away just yet. The second jar will slowly begin to fill up as you complete concepts that were in the jar, helping you get that feeling of accomplishment.
A feeling of accomplishment is important when you’re feeling stuck creatively. Even if it’s your “Take a walk” slip, you’ve still accomplished something that day and you can add it to the soon-to-be-full second jar.
Pro tip: put cheesy, uplifting quotes in the jar too for a little pick me up. You can even turn that into a project whether that be how could you put this on social media? What would the design be? What copy would you need? It’s a whole project in itself while helping you keep something positive in mind.
6. A way to expand your portfolio
Growing your portfolio of work is always a good thing and who says it just needs to be made up of professional work? Personal projects have their place. They can help show that you’re a dedicated, hard worker in your spare time too.
The Jar Concept gives you the chance to pay attention to tasks that you’ve wanted to do. Perhaps you have that dreaded list of things you would love to add to your portfolio but feel you don’t have the skills to do them.
Now’s the time to upskill and try something new. Maybe one of your tasks is “Find YouTube videos about creating reflections in PhotoShop.” Here you can learn a new skill while at the same time expanding your portfolio with projects that result from said skills.
What do you think of The Jar Concept? Will you be implementing it? There’s no right or wrong way to do it as everyone has their own goals and task preferences.
I feel that it’s a valuable tool that is pretty inexpensive to set up (a clean jar, some paper and a pen) and offers you the opportunity to explore your creative side as well as the different areas that you’d like to look into further.
Remember, it’s physical, helps with goals, offers you structure, gives you a break, helps your mind shift, and expands your portfolio. Pretty rewarding if you ask me!
Feature Image: Pixabay