In the last 2 weeks many of my design friends have brought up this new anxiety of not creating. Not finding the time to make. Not achieving anything, wasting their lives. Being creative and driven, you have a thirst to product, a need to contribute.
Upon entering into the working world, finding the time to satisfy this creative drive becomes harder. We’ve all been working for 4 years at this point and I think we each realized at the same time that creating at work and creating at home is very different. We know work-life balance is important, but we now realize that balance is needed in where you spend your creative energy as well as your time. Personal side projects let you explore, experiment, fail, and discover. Work doesn’t always offer the same opportunities.
Over lunches, coffees, and chat windows we advised each other on how to focus and find time to create outside of work. How to avoid the stress of not finishing and accepting that we don’t have to produce stuff but making is fun. These are some tips that might help those in the same situation:
1. One project at a time. Focus means you have to narrow down and actually focus. Pick something to work on and just that one project.
2. Ideas pop up constantly. Write them down in a spark file. Now you have a list to jump to when you’re done with the project you’re focusing on.
3. Not all projects need to be finished. Sometimes a project shouldn’t be finished. Sometimes you have to walk away for days, weeks, months, years before its time to wrap it up, and that’s ok.
4. Write down what you’ve learned each day. Seeing achievements in a list will surprise you how much you’re actually getting done each day, giving you a little boost everyday.
5. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
“Remember life is really silly and fun and absurd and there’s no time for taking yourself too seriously” - Nour
6. Drink coffee and have long lunches away from your desk. Allow your brain time to take disparate thoughts and link them together into new ideas. This is why amazing ideas pop up when taking a shower. Your brain works in the background you just have to give it time.
7. Talk to a friend about a project. At work you bounce ideas off people, do the same with personal projects.
8. Take a different route each day. Get off the subway a stop earlier, drive a new road to the office. A change of scenery engages your brain differently and kicks you out of creative ruts.
9. Carry a notebook and sketch everything down. Words are great too. Get ideas onto paper and in a place you can push them around.
10. When you’re stumped on whats next, list out everything you need to eventually get done. You’ll quickly figure out what to do.