This week is, for me, the first “real” week of the new year. The actual first week was cut short by what was supposed to be a quick trip to Miami for a family event; due to the snow and ice storm that hit Atlanta last week, our stay was extended by four days and we enjoyed an impromptu vacation. Felt pretty lucky to be "stuck" in the only U.S. state without snow! That was last week; this week things are back to “normal,” and so I am faced with the reality that my extended contract position at TBS ended last month and it's time to get inspired and make something happen. I’ve been surfing around in order to fill my brain with new images and ideas, and thought I’d share a few of the great sites I've come across. If you have anything to add to the mix that you find particularly inspiring, please drop me a note and I’ll add to the list. Inspiration is something we can never have too much of!
Inspiredology.com – name says it all:
DesignFlavr – Daily art & design inspiration:
Communication Arts / Creative – tonic for the uninspired:
Web Designer Ledger – the inspiration category:
The D Photo – super-inspiring photography:
Where does your creative inspiration come from? We’ve all heard of some of the best ideas materializing in the shower. Those times when the brain is on idle so to speak, the creative spark finds room to peek in and make itself known. But what if you’re running low on so called “down time,” and therefore none of that spark is making its way through? You know how it is, your mind is going a million miles a minute, and idle is something your brain never has time to be anymore. This is when you have to actually create your own down time; but how to do it without feeling so contrived that it renders useless? You have to break out of your element, explore new places – either physically or mentally – in order to jar those great ideas out of hiding.
Take a Walk
This seems simple enough, but sometimes it takes more than a spin on the treadmill or a walk around your neighborhood. If possible, get out in nature, where there are little to no distractions, and just walk. Being surrounded by trees or near water, noticing the little things, like a row of ants marching along or a patch of your favorite wildflowers, will take your mind out of its hectic state and allow some of that creativity back in. Breathing in fresh air and remembering your place in the big scheme of things can really calm down your mind, as well as free up space for fresh thinking.
Listen to Music
This may seem obvious, but sometimes it takes more than turning the radio to the same tunes you hear every day, with DJ and commercial interruptions. Put in a CD or turn your iPod to something you haven’t heard in a while. I personally like to tune into Pandora (www.pandora.com) where I have my own personal stations. While I’m working and running low on ideas or energy, I like to listen to jazz. It seems to calm my brain, and as the melodies and riffs run through my head, I often conjure up fresh ideas. For you it may be rock or R&B; there is no right way, just finding what inspires you and keeps your ideas flowing.
This one seems like a no-brainer as well; do we really have a choice? But I’m not talking about the shallow, mindless breathing that we may take for granted for days on end. I am talking mindful breathing, which comes from being aware of our breath and the affect it has on our body. Inhale fully so that your lungs are filled to capacity, and then exhale completely, until they feel empty, before filling them up again. Even just doing this for five breaths amazingly clears your mind and alleviates stress. If you can do it for even longer, great. Remembering to breathe mindfully during times of stress or low energy can make a huge difference in your mind (and body’s) well-being.
Take a Trip
I know it's not normally feasible to hop up at a moment’s notice and travel to another city or country. But, we can take a virtual trip online. Google Maps is a great thing; where have you always wanted to go? Just type it in, and voila! you’re there. (select Satellite View and you can actually navigate your way around). Explore the streets of London or sunny California and take in some of the sites. Enjoy seeing the different types of architecture and landscapes, or even cars and people. It really does get you out of your element and let your mind explore something new without even having to leave your workstation.
These are just a few ideas of things we can do when running low on creativity, ideas, or just plain old energy. Incorporate them into your daily routine, and take notice of how you feel. I'm sure others have their own methods (and I can already think of a few more - part II maybe?); I'd love to hear about them!