Dr Amy Climer

Episode 46: How to Take Action Against Your Inner Critic

Building on episode 45, this episodes gives you three simple tools to help you move past your inner critic and get unstuck. Three tools to help you be more creative and take action towards innovation.

What You’ll Learn

  • Three tips to help you take action against your inner critic
  • How Post-It Notes can help you get unstuck
  • How to leverage the power of your To Do list to be more creative

Resources to Help You Overcome Your Inner Critic

The Weekly Challenge

Pick one of the recommended tools and try them out this week. If you are not sure which one to start with, use Post-It Notes and see how they help you.


Feel like reading instead of listening? You can read it below. Enjoy!

Amy Climer: Welcome to the Deliberate Creative Podcast Episode 46. Today’s episode is about how to take action against your inner critic. Last week, I talked about how to say “no” to your inner critic and this episode is basically part two to that. I realized after I recorded last week’s episode that the advice is really about mindset and how to shift your thinking in order to say “no” to your inner critic. Today, I want to talk specifically about some of the things you can do. Sometimes even though you know you need to ignore your inner critic, and maybe your mindset is starting to shift and you are starting to be more open, I want to talk about what you actually do about it.

I am going to give you a couple of examples of situations that I have been in in the last couple of months where I have gotten stuck and my inner critic was getting some airplay, I guess you could say, in my head. My inner critic was being more vocal and it was preventing me from moving forward. Many of you have heard me talk in previous episodes about my dissertation, which I am very excited to say is pretty much done. In the process of writing, there were definitely times where I was stuck. The whole thing is about 40,000 words, it’s about 150 pages double spaced, so it is fairly long and it is a lot and there is a lot that goes into it. And almost every single time that I was stuck, it was because I did not know what to say or I could not quite figure out how to get everything organized.

Tips to help you take action against your inner critic [02:22]

Using Post-It Notes

For me, the most helpful tool was using Post-It Notes. Seriously, I think Post-It Notes are one of the best creativity tools. I really should probably invest in some stock in 3M. I love Post-It Notes. They are brilliant. There was something, for me anyway, about getting away from the computer, just something about these little pieces of paper. I would generally try to use markers so I could see the writing, to make the writing very bold and visible across the room. And if I was stuck and I did not know what to say, I would pull out the Post-It Notes and a marker and I would start writing my thoughts, one idea per Post-It Note. I would see them laid out and I would start clamping them. I would organize them, laying them out on the table or on the wall. What was so interesting to me is it worked every single time. Once I had them all laid out, I could go back to my computer and I could start writing.

I used that same tool when I got stuck organizationally. Sometimes the chapter was so long, maybe it was getting to 30, 40 pages, and it was just too much in there. I was finding that it was not organized properly but I could not figure out how to best organize it. This is really tough, especially if you are using Word. It is not quite as bad if you are using Scrivener, which is also a great writing tool. I will put a link to that in the shownotes. It is a software that is like a more robust version of Word. Well, I would say it’s just different than Word, that is the thing.

So what I would do is pull out the Post-It Notes and same thing. I would put each section on a Post-It Note and I would start moving them around the table and I would realize, “Oh, this is why I am stuck. It is because the section at the beginning really should be the third section and I should move some things around.” And as soon as I did that, everything fell into place. This was sometimes after not doing anything for two weeks because I just could not figure out what to do and I would procrastinate and avoid it. And the Post-It Notes, every time they worked.

In fact, I have another project that I need to do coming up here and I realized before I started recording that Post-It Notes are going to be the answer. That project is that I am interested in hiring an assistant and I have all these different things that I want that assistant to do and to help me with, but right now it is pretty scatter, not that organized, and I am not sure if it is appropriate to hire one person or two people part-time, I do not know. So I realize, “Oh, I need to get out those Post-It Notes again because that is going to help me get past this block that I am having.” Post-It Notes are a tool that I use all the time. I highly recommend them. If you are stuck, pull them out. See what you can do with Post-It Notes. See what happens. And, by the way, this happens with teams as well, not just individually. I have had walls and tables covered with Post-It Notes because the team was stuck with something and we started working through it with Post-It Notes. They are kind of like magic. So thank you, 3M, for developing Post-It Notes. I really appreciate it, and so do a lot of other people. So number one is Post-It Notes.

Figuring Out the First Step You Have to Take [05:47]

Number two is to figure out what your goal is, what is it you are trying to be creative in and see if you can figure out what the very first thing is that you have to do. What is the smallest, simplest task you have to do. So last week we were using writing as an example. Let us say you are trying to get something published, maybe the first task is just to do some research to figure out where do I even get this published. What kind of journals or organizations or magazines would be interested in publishing this kind of work, and then get online and start doing some research.

Also, be careful that you do not get stuck and go down a long rabbit hole, because we all know what it is like to get lost online. But figure out what is that first thing you need to do. I think David Allen has done this well. He is the author of the book Getting Things Done. In that book, he really lays it out — it is really a time management system. It is a way to just actually get things done. And that is what he says. He says, “What is the very first thing you have to do?” And break these down into tiny, tiny steps. In some ways your inner critic says, “Yeah, okay. I can spend ten minutes doing that, that is no big deal.” But when you break it down into a super simple step, it no longer feels like this difficult, challenging monumental creative task.

So break things down into steps, and I mean actually write them down, not just break it down in your head, but write it down. Write the first one, two or three steps. You do not have to have all ten steps. That actually can sometimes make it worse. Just having the first one, two or three steps is better, because if you have this long list, that can feel pretty overwhelming. It is sort of a way to trick your brain into action.

Using Creativity Tools Like Climer Cards [07:40]

Post-It Notes, writing down the steps, and then sometimes just using another tool, a tool that I have mentioned many times on this podcast is Climer Cards, which is a deck of cards that I created. They can be particularly helpful if you need to look at something in a different way, if you are trying to develop a metaphor for something, or if you are trying to come with some new ideas. So maybe you have a challenge and you do not have any ideas for them, Climer Cards are a great tool for that. And I have talked in earlier episodes specifically about how to use Climer CardsEpisode 24. I will put a link to that in the shownotes. I would also suggest going back to Episode 22, which is Creative Boosters. I talk about a number of different ways that you can boost your creativity. But I just wanted to give you a couple of quick things to start taking action against your inner critic.

Journaling [08:36]

We talked about Post-It Notes, figuring what that very first step is you have to take, briefly mentioned using Climer Cards. And one other thing, and I know I have mentioned this before on the podcast, is sometimes journaling and writing. It doesn’t  even have to be related to your topic, just start writing. I try to journal every morning. I do not make it every single day, but it is something that I try to do at least a few days a week and I find that it is helpful, especially if I am feeling that inner critic more.

The Weekly Challenge [09:08]

Those are a couple of things you can do. Your weekly challenge this week is to pick one of those and to start. If you are not sure which one to pick, I recommend the Post-It Notes. Again, they are one of my favorite things. So pull up some Post-It Notes and just see if you can use those to start attacking your idea or start attacking your problem and coming up with ideas or figuring out wherever you are stuck using those Post-It Notes. I think that oftentimes when we get on the computer, it just makes things worse.

I hope that is helpful and I hope that gives you some ideas on how to take action against your inner critic. If you have not yet done so, I would welcome you and invite you to go over to iTunes and share a review on iTunes for the Deliberate Creative Podcast. Or if you are a Stitcher user, you can leave a review there and feel free to tweet about this, share it on Facebook, let other people know. If there are other people that you know want to be more creative or maybe you think they should be more creative, share the podcast with them. The more the better. You all, have a wonderful week and I will talk to you next time, bye.

Note: The links on this page may be affiliate links. That means I get a small commission of your sale, at no cost to you. However, I only share links to products that I or my guests believe in. Enjoy them! 



Rave Reviews

  • Amy Inspires Creativity Growth in Everyone
    January 5, 2022 by cjpowers7 from United States

    Amy Climer’s show helps all of us grow our creative muscles. She is authentic and cares about her listeners. Amy empowers us with tools that work in the office, training sessions, and our communities. The best part is her ability to make what feels out of reach, something that can be accomplished with simple steps forward.

  • A great way to get inspired!!
    March 8, 2021 by binglish from United States

    Love listening to Amy’s podcast! Her guests are awesome and conversations are full of inspiring information.

  • A must for people who want to think better
    May 26, 2019 by Dhensch from United States

    Amy Climer hit a home run with this podcast and continues to get hits with every episode. I was hooked with the first one and binge-listened to the four solo episodes about the Creative Problem Solving process. Her knowledge of the subject of creativity and innovation is incredibly deep. And, she makes it easy for others to learn and apply. I have listened to other "expert" podcasts and Amy's is different in that she holds nothing back. Episode after episode offer practical insights, tips and tools. She has a generosity of spirit that is contagious.

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