Ah, the ever elusive focus has finally found me again. By Friday my to do list was halfway done, and the motion of that accomplishment was so energizing that I decided to stay up until 4AM on Saturday to continue working on creative projects. The one thing I'm starting to realize is that when it comes to productivity, you have to use it while the feeling is there. Go above and beyond while you have the energy because there will certainly be days when you feel like laying on the couch, drinking tea and kombucha, and watching the latest episode of Atlanta until 10PM (cough, Sunday night).
Creative flow is a constant ebb and flow. But there are a few small things that I do to kickstart my creativity when it's lacking, or when I want to tap in.
Deactivate, Delete, Disconnect.
This is nothing new, but the greatest thing you can do for your creativity is minimize distraction. hit the mute button on all the noise in the bazaar of social media, and vapid communication. For me, this means setting periods of time where I leave my phone off. That way I'm not tempted to grab it at the first sign of boredom, and instead can spend time getting aqcquanted with my thoughts.
Make a to do list.
To do lists are essential for prioritizing time. They ensure that you aren't expending energy on things that won't be valuable to you at the end of the day. You don't necessarily have to have an explicit goal, in fact my lists are usually vague yet actionable: Spend time painting for no reason at all, Experiment with watercolors, Find inspiration for Geometric logo. But each item is specific enough for me to cross out after a work session, and feel like I'm moving closer to my larger goals.
Discover inspiration in unexpected places.
Let's face it, everyone is looking at each other's work online. But if you want to give yourself an edge, try looking at different mediums and find ways for it to inform your work or creative practice. Last year, Toro y moi dropped his album BooBoo, and when I tell you I had that album on loop for MONTHS I'm not exaggerating! Something about the music made me want to create something dreamy, and inspired by South Florida through my unique lens. I'm also very inspired by literature and poetry. There's just an air to Latin American literature in particular, and it's that feeling that I aim to evoke through my art. Very rarely do I look at other paintings when I'm painting because I don't want to compare my work and feel discouraged. I also don't want to limit my imagination to what's already been done, or is seen as acceptable.
Find creative folks who are living their passion.
Whenever I have a creative block I go on youtube and watch interviews of my favorite creatives. There's something about listening to people describe their process with passion, and seeing how they work that without fail will light a fire under your ass. Creativity is contagious, when you see someone else making, you get the impulse to make something too. So surround yourself with creative folks, watch Abstract on Netflix or go on youtube and watch this mini documentary on Toro y moi :)
Listen to Podcasts.
This is probably a no brainer, but there's just so much inspiring content out there. And what I love about podcasts is that you can multi-task while enjoying them. I personally enjoy smaller, less manicured podcasts because they feel more authentic and relatable. Sure, every now and then I'll listen to a Hidden Brain episode on NPR, but for the most part I have a staple 3 or 4 podcasts from people who are still trying to figure things out in their field. My favorites range from the latest tech and marketing news, to vedantic teachings. But if storytelling, rawness, and creative living are your thing, you can also check out my podcast, Creating Waves. (shameless plug here!) It's available on iTunes, soundcloud, or your podcast platform of choice.
Make something for someone else.
This might sound weird, but sometimes the best thing to get your creative juices flowing is to create something with the intention to give to someone you love. Not only will it get you out of your head, and make you less driven towards ego gratification, but it will likely enrich your personal relationships and feelings of relatedness (basic needs, check! take that psychology!) Perhaps I'm overly sentimental but nothing beats receiving something that was created and personalized for you.
While none of this is rocket science, these are tried and tested methods that work for me! Maybe one or two will work for you too, who knows?
What do you do to stay inspired and focused?