Learning to channel your creativity to produce awesome work is one of the most valuable skills you can develop (and use to stay inspired!) this year. Not only will your ultra-original style set you apart, whether working on quick projects or making your wildest DIY dreams come true, but it can help you share all your feels for a happier, healthier you. Unfortunately, creativity-stifling blocks happen to even the most genius, outside-the-box thinkers and professional makers — and we bet you know that totally stuck feeling that comes with being unable to get going. Luckily, we were able to pinpoint four common creativity killers so you can zap ’em before they start to slow you down.

Having Super-Specific Expectations

There’s nothing like having a strict outcome in mind to totally put the damper on your creativity. Self-imposed requirements could stem from perfectionism, something you saw and loved, or a mental picture you’ve latched onto. Whatever the case, try to focus on improving your ability to ditch end-game thoughts. You’ll be able to make the most of your originality and truly tune in to whatever you’re working on.

How to Avoid It: Train yourself to be more open to possibilities you might not have considered — and all of the valuable education that comes with them. Try a new technique, medium, or collaboration. Do things differently! Let it all flow, and see what happens. You might majorly surprise yourself, in the best of ways.

Your Regular Old Routine

Have you been stuck in a major rut? If so, we bet you feel like your creativity has been stifled too. Whether you’ve been doing the same thing day in, day out for months or simply crave some variety on a particularly dull afternoon, you can look for manageable changes to make to get the juices flowing again.

How to Avoid It: Try something as small as changing where you sit or sprucing up your work area to start. If that doesn’t cut it, treat yourself to a couple of days away from your daily grind. To switch it up even more in the long term, think about adding more movement to your day, changing the time you go to sleep or wake up, or modifying your morning routine. Breaking out of the box you subtly stepped into will do wonders when it comes to firing up your right brain again.

Insecurities or a Fear of Being Judged

Right up there with setting overly specific expectations, emotions like anxiety, self-doubt, and embarrassment can stop your creativity right in its tracks. If you’re feeling insecure about something you’re working on, try to get to the heart of it. Is it something someone has said in the past? Are you calling on skills that you haven’t used enough? Is it your first time presenting something like this to other people? Figuring out where the feelings stem from means you can do something about them.

How to Avoid It: Consider workshopping your ideas in front of friends, family, or a tight-knit community you feel super-comfortable around. If that still seems like too much, try running your concepts, drafts, or even partially completed project by just one dependable person to start! Not only will getting feedback feel reassuring, but sharing your work for the first time in front of people you love and trust will help ease some of your fears about owning what you create.

A Time Crunch (or a Hard Stop)

Elizabeth Gilbert (the adored author of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic) makes a case for taking pressure off yourself in order for creativity to strike. Saying it’s a mistake to assume that you own your creativity, she suggests that inspiration lives outside all of us and can appear anytime. Problem is, it might show up when you’re completely overloaded, hopping on a call, or rushing out the door.

How to Avoid It: While it’s not always possible to avoid meetings, calls, or workloads, you can do your best to block off chunks of time in your favorite workspace. Giving yourself more uninterrupted time might help facilitate your creative process, leaving lots of room for when inspiration does strike.

What saps your creativity, and how do you recover? Share your tips with us on Twitter @BritandCo.

(Photos via Getty)