Be free my soul.
Is this the little whisper that your creative unconscious has been been sewing into your brain of late?
If you answered yes, then you are most likely a seasoned warrior of winter. Emerging from the icy depths, you have survived the 3rd circle of hell.
Vitamin-D deprivation isn’t the only thing that leaves you a little worse for wear in the winter. While you might not actually be a Viking warrior, your cold season routine has had its’ fair share of tests of strength. Breathing nothing but stale, dry air forced through your heaters has become its own method of torture. And the 5 wilting houseplants and mini humidifier you purchased in an attempt to trick your brain into thinking it was on a tropical holiday? Let’s face it, they don’t have quite the same mental reward as the return of warm weather actually slaying the beast we call winter.
Your much beloved cafés and co-working spaces aren’t doing it for you as late. Traveling through never ending icy rains with your laptop in tow, you think you will need to physically remove yourself from the monotony of your day to day and psysically put yourself on a sunny beach and breathe fresh island air before you get out of this funk.
But what if that week away from it all is not possible? What if your reset button doesn’t put you on a plane and wish you away from it all? As an entrepreneur or remote worker, beating seasonal and environmental blues is integral to your creative productivity.
In this post we’re going to share a couple of our go to creative pick me ups that we routinely find the most useful for kicking off the stale funk of cabin fever and breaking the monotony that comes with captivity of working indoors for too long.
What makes us experts on this topic? Well for one, we are creative freelancers who work mainly from home. We are also parents of an energetic toddler and our business and our personal life co-exisits in a small living space.
Through experience, we have learned that these simple habits prove the most useful to helping restore balance to our productivity and creative clarity so that any of life’s speed bumps and seasonal impediments are better dealt with.
Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.
~Walt Disney Company
Stay curious. Don’t dwell on difficulties or hinderances that exist in your life. If you have to focus on any limitations, bring it into a positive light. Discover new solutions to old problems. Look at new problems as welcomed challenges.
If you struggle with a small office space, guaranteed you also have a problem of too much stuff. Start researching ways to declutter and organize your belongings. Haven’t heard of the komondi method? Start there. If you own your studio space but are not in a position to move, learn how to tear down a wall and do some DIY remodelling. Not that brave? Start simple and learn about about new ways to arrange your furniture and organize your tools.
You are going to need a jumping off point. Start allocating 90 uninterupted minutes at least once a week to discovery time. This could be reaserching online, reading at the library or at home, or talking to excerpts in your new field of discovery.
If you have all that covered, count yourself lucky. Your discovery time can be completely allocated to side projects. Which leads us to our next step.
Take away: Be inspired by solutions, don’t get dragged down with problems.
We are so connected to everything and everyone all the time. This is a great thing but even too much of a great thing can have negative effects. All the more reason to prioritizing disconnecting from time to time.
Personally we treat disconnecting as a form of meditation. We use it as a time to reflect and recharge, focusing on nothing but what we have chosen to do in that moment and reconsidering the time we spend with ourselves. That is what disconnecting is really about. No screens, no email, no Facebook or Twitter. Do some yoga, go to an art gallery, take a Breather and listen to music. Do whatever it might take to get you out of your regular routine.
We know what you’re thinking. But I am too busy to find time to do nothing.
Don’t think that way. You just sealed your own creative coffin with bad excuses.
We’re not shaming you, we’ve been there too. Guaranteed if you cut your wilfing time on Reddit and Facebook in at least half, you will find a little more time in your day. Try and dedicate this time to just yourself.
But wait, you have kids. “Nope sorry. No me time…”
Hear that? Its the sound of rusty nails being hammered into your creative coffin again.
Rethink your strategy. Can’t be alone? Then grab your mini-mes and let them join your party. Read together. Craft together. Bake together. Do whatever together. As long as whatever doesn’t involve a glowing screen. Children ride magical waves of innocence and creativity. As parents, allow yourself to disconnect from your adult world and jump on their imagination gravy train and nurture your own creative side by experiencing creativity through their eyes. Work will always be there, your children’s childhood will not. Pretty soon its going to be them begging for more time at the computer, so why not learn the importance of life work balance together.
Take away: Don’t ever be so busy that you miss out on taking care of your body, mind and self.
All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking. ~Friedrich Nietzsche
Our final and most important step: walking.
Walking is not a sport and it isn’t the same as going to the gym. To get the true benefits of walking you have to get out and slow down. Don’t look at it as an investment hobby to indulge in high performance shoes and walking sticks. Look as it as a means to find clarity.
Walking is the best way to go more slowly than any other method that has ever been found. To walk, you need to start with two legs. The rest is optional. If you want to go faster, then don’t walk, do something else: drive, slide or fly. Don’t walk.
~Frédéric Gros, Philosophy of Walking
The next time you feel stuffy, head pulsating from staring at a screen, or when you feel like your ideas from your last planing strategy are falling flat, get out and go for a walk. Rain or shine, sunshine or snow. Leave everything bulky behind and dress for the weather. Viking snowstorm? Fur coats are optional, but dress accordingly so your not focused on being uncomfortable.
In order to focus on clearing your head and organizing your thoughts, you want to focus on the task at hand. Walking.
Start finding time in your day when you can put work down and go for a walk.
Have a team meeting? See if you can walk through it. If you are a small company try and get your strategy team out of the board room and walking. You will be amazed at the clarity that can be achieved from walking 10 blocks. Even if you are solo, the time you dedicate to infusing energy and meditation into your steps will be a guaranteed reenergized to your creative brain. And if you can complete your walk in the pouring rain without succumbing to dialling for an Uber, we’ll then my friend you are well on your way to becoming a modern version of the Viking warrior.
Take away: Make time for clarity and don’t be stagnant. Move ideas forward. Keep putting one foot in front of the other.
There you have it. Our 3 simple steps to kicking cabin fever and staying creative.
Walk, disconnect, discover.
They have no particular order and some of the steps are interchangeable, you may find you are doing two at once.
Look at you, you successful multi-tasker. Looks like this advice is paying off.
Now get out there and slay your creative demons.
Featured image: A cozy lookout in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Photo by Meredith Ann Brooks