Maybe you aspire to build the largest, work the hardest, or achieve the greatest, but instead of excelling, you’re coping—content to reduce a pile of papers on your desk by half-an-inch before you finally turn off the lights and go home. What happened? Someone or something cut into the most creative time of your day. Instead of leading the charge, you’re looking for a jump start. What to do?

1. Retool your routine.

Review your daily do’s. What interrupts your “peak performance time?” Are there habits that eat into that early morning, late afternoon, or early evening time when you seem to run on all eight cylinders? Retool. Prioritize social media. Bundle tasks and move them to a more convenient time slot. Do what you have to do to stay focused on the main thing.

2. Buy a book.

What’s the buzz on media that relate to your profession? You’ve probably read the reviews or heard the recommendations. Go ahead, make the media purchase, or visit the local library. The “cutting edge” is the creative edge. Dare to walk there, and discover kinship with the creators and storytellers.

3. Tame a technology.

What technology frightens you more than it enlightens you? Identify it and tame it. Take a continuing education classes. Learn about websites or design or photography. Of course you may have people who do those things for you, but why not keep in step with them? It will give you a better understanding of their work, and give you a psychological boost at the same time.

4. File a failure.

In many cases, people are held back by an event or circumstance that has diminished their self-worth. What hurt looms before you or stands in your way? Face it head on. Seek counseling. Join a therapy group. Take it off the table and file it under “experience.”

5. Harbor a hope.

What one thing can you believe in that has a happy ending? Often you’ll find it in the smile or embrace of someone you have helped or comforted. Hope for the best for someone, and then work to share the joy.

6. Master a minute.

What could you eliminate in order to take a regular timeout? “None!” you say. Think again. Are you doing something that another person could do equally as well? Let them do it. Delegate it. Carve ten minutes out of your work day for a walk. Give yourself a coffee break before work. Don’t be a servant of your time, be its master.

7. Settle a situation.

What relationship issue needs to be settled right now? With whom? Over what? At work or at home? Realize that unresolved conflict drains your creativity. Take the first step, the second is a snap. You’ll not only chase the cloud away over yourself, you’ll bring some rays to another.

Is it time for a tune-up? Don’t delay. There’s a great big task that needs exactly what the new you can do.

–Stan Toler