Computers have a tendency to make us rush. Rush through lunch by answering emails on our phone, rush to work to take care of that last minute agenda item, rush to take over for a coworker who dared stop working at 5pm. It’s nothing new, but constantly being connected has taken a serious toll on our attention spans, and as a direct result our creativity.
It makes sense, you’re inundated with inspiration every day but you have no time to process it before your attention is swept up by something else. You have all the potential for a great and creative idea but none of the follow through.
When I entered the tech world I went about 2 years before realizing that I needed to do something to prevent creative burnout. All my hobbies and waking hours were spent in front of a computer, my work became a bit stale, and my productivity fizzled. What free time I did have, I was so desperate to take a mental break that I’d watch TV, hardly fulfilling.
Now I give myself a rest from tech in some small ways and carve out some personal time for myself – it can seem hard at first but it’s completely worth it. Once you have these down, you can try to do more like Gasp turning off your phone and computer for a day*.
*Warn your friends and family first
Put It on Your Calendar
The biggest tip here is to actually put these things on your calendar with an alarm or reminder attached. We’ve found that we’re far more likely to actually do what we said we would if we’re reminded right before. If you don’t want “No TV Tuesday” or “Hobby time” on your work calendar, that’s completely understandable. Instead use a personal account or create a private calendar on your business account for these tasks.
Designate a No TV night
We’ve opted to retain Tuesday’s as a no television zone. Occasionally we make exceptions, but generally we’ll work on other projects (preferably offline), read, or just spend time together playing a board game. Removing TV for a night will free up some brain space to process new ideas and will shift your focus to engaging and interacting with the world around you – rather than passively watching.
Creativity has a strong connection to movement. This discovery, dating back to Hippocrates, is hardly new. Schedule some time for an evening walk with your dog (the dog will be happier too), go to a yoga class, do a workout tape. Whatever it takes to get your creative juices flowing and your stress levels reduced. While walking affords more leisurely thought, I’m a firm believer that traditional exercise that reduces stress will also free up significant thought processing power.
Pick a Hands-on Hobby
Have you been itching to learn the ukelele? To do origami paper folding? Build furniture? Whatever that non-tech hobby is on your “someday” list now’s the time to try it. I started a DIY blog that requires that I make one to two hands-on crafts a week which has afforded me the room to try many things. If you’re looking for something a little lower maintenance (and that requires little to no work space) try origami. It’s a great way to challenge yourself.
An added bonus – these non-computer hobbies will have physical returns and markers of success. Nothing beats the feeling of seeing the pillow you sewed yourself sitting on the bed. These moments of fulfilled completion will give you creative momentum.
Doodle and Jot
Write it down my friends, the honest truth is that after implementing these you still will have a busy life. You’ll want a notebook nearby to sketch out and write down any creative flash or thought you get now that you’ve gained momentum. Take note of these ideas as they occur so that you’ll be more aware of them and you’ll be able to revisit or develop them later when you have time.
Make Pins count
You’ll still be inundated when you interact with online aggregators like Pinterest, Twitter and blogs. Let’s make that work for us! External sources are an excellent pool of creativity to draw from – if you make it mindful. Don’t just pin everything related to a holiday and forget it. Save the things that truly inspire you and actually revisit them. Try out that simple snow globe DIY you pinned last Christmas, you may do it wrong at first but you’ll learn a lot in the process and open up new thought channels. The idea here is not to overwhelm yourself but to actually create an inspiration board you can work from.
Any thoughts or ideas to share? I’d love to hear what’s worked (and what hasn’t) for you.