5 ways to reignite your creativity when you’re stuck at home
It’s been six weeks now since the UK has been in lockdown and we’ve all been stuck at home.
It’s a very unsettling time, whatever your situation, and I know many people have spoken of even simple jobs taking much longer to do.
I have had weeks with a background hum of worry in my mind, and felt like anything requiring creativity was far harder than usual.
Plus, there has been the addition of less time to concentrate, as my children constantly interrupt my work and any ‘flow’ I get into, is likely to be shortlived.
On the other hand, there has been an overwhelming surge of creativity, as people have explored new business models and ways of connecting with their audience.
I am hugely grateful that so far, the coronavirus pandemic has only affected me personally in very small ways. My husband was ill, but he has (mostly) recovered. My kids and I were quarantined for two weeks, but we stayed healthy. I lost a client, but gained another. I was placed on furlough from my part-time contract, but that means I’ve been able to focus on other parts of my business.
The main thing affecting me so far has been brain fog, souping up my thoughts and preventing creative thinking.
But I need to work. I am 100% responsible for my family’s finances. And creativity is a huge part of my job, so I needed to get over this somehow! Putting pressure on myself to ‘get over it’ was clearly not going to help. There is no getting over this situation! But I did need to do something.
So here are five things I did to wake my brain up a little bit and reignite my creativity during the pandemic:
1) Reduce news consumption
There are new stories every few minutes about the pandemic. What did they say at the daily briefing? What’s happening in China now? What has Trump said or done now? BLEACH!?!? Who are the latest victims and what happened to them? Do masks actually work? When are they going to be testing everyone?
I’m not saying that these topics are not important to be informed about. Because I actually think that checking in on the news IS important for me right now.
But I don’t need to read about it every 15 minutes.
Firstly, that’s hugely distracting for me trying to get into a flow of work. But secondly, seeing news throughout the day, and particularly in the evening, meant I was never switched off from the pure awfulness of the situation. It’s hard to be creative if you’re constantly feeling fearful.
Now, I try to only check the news once or twice a day in the morning. I log on to the Guardian and look at their round up. I might read an opinion piece. If I’ve seen an interesting link during the day, I save it in Google Keep and look at it the next day. That’s it.
2) Figure out what is within your control
The next thing comes from Sarah Knight’s book, Calm the F**k Down* (full disclosure, I worked on this book AND this is an affilliate link, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t brilliant).
I wrote out a list of ALLLLLL the stuff I was worried about and then circled the things that were actually in my control.
Clearly right now, it’s hard to say ‘don’t worry about the rest of it’ because… I do! I can’t stop myself. But I do now know the things I can have an impact on and I’m trying to just put my focus on those things.
3) Prioritise what makes you happy
Reading is, and always has been, my biggest form of self-care.
I love reading and being transported to another world. However, I was reading a book that seemed to require a lot of brain power and was incredibly upsetting to read.
I couldn’t find the energy to keep reading it, so I didn’t read anything for weeks. This is so unlike me, and I really missed it. Reading makes me happy, and I wasn’t making any time for it!
So, I abandoned that book and started something completely different. I read that in a couple of days, and it feels like it reset my brain a bit. Now I’m back into my usual reading habit, and it feels great.
Is there something that you usually love doing, which you haven’t been? How can you reintroduce it in some way? Making time for ourselves is so important even at the best of times. Now it feels like it’s doubly needed.
4) Make a plan
I sat down a couple of weeks ago and jotted down some ideas for what I wanted to focus on. I chose three areas:
- Personal life (family / friends / my home)
- Content channels (my blog and free Facebook group in particular)
- My business generally
For each area, I wrote out what I would love to do, and what I would need to do to get there. This list was VERY loose. But writing it down made me feel excited. I did still have goals, after all!
The next week, when I sat down at my desk to work, the list was there for me to start building on. I even fleshed it out properly on to a 12 week planner.
5) Lower your expectations
When I first talked about the things that were helping me, over in my free Facebook group, I completely forgot to mention this, but it’s been pretty critical.
I have totally removed my expectations for the duration of the pandemic. Yes, I want to be creative. Yes, I need to work. But I am definitely not going to be as productive as usual, and that is fine.
I’ve seen some tweets about Shakespeare writing King Lear during quarantine, and someone who even tried to say that NOT being able to do all those things on your dream wish list meant you were generally a lazy person.
This is false. You are not lazy. Figure out what your minimum is, and do that. If you can, do more. But if you can’t, that is totally understandable. This is a global crisis.
And sometimes, when you write out what the minimum you need to do is, you might find yourself doing more. Not much more. But enough to feel like you’re being creative and getting some level of pleasure from your work again.
Those things aren’t huge, but they helped me! I hope one of the ideas might help you, too.
I know everyone has been so differently affected by what’s going on, and is dealing with it differently, too. So, I would love to know: Are you starting to come out of the brain fog? What has helped you to reignite your creative spark?