Tapping into Creativity in the Time of COVID

EAG, August 4, 2020

Tips on escaping the time loop and making cool stuff, again

You sigh loudly as yet another day begins and your work commute is still the same 30 feet from your bedroom to your home office (or makeshift dining table/work desk). You look at your new officemates —a planter, a pen holder, a band poster. Maybe you even talk to them. Creative block can hit anyone at any time, but how does a graphic designer break from the funk when monotonous quarantine life has you down?

Many have written on the subject of how to work from home, but few have successfully tackled how to manage creativity during coronavirus. After reading Fast Company’s interview with art critic Jerry Saltz, and some personal trial and error, I’ve come up with a few.

Have the Right Tools

In order to do any job, you need the right tools. Get the equipment you need. Need a larger second monitor? A functioning keyboard? A new mouse? The right equipment will give you a professional atmosphere needed to get the job done. And, anything shiny and new adds a sense of excitement.

Establish a New Normal Morning Routine

With the pandemic, you may be missing more than that indie coffee shop latte on your way to work. After reading Good Mornings by Linnea Dunne, I revised my “roll-out-of bed” morning routine and created a new commute, one that included a morning walk by the riverfront. As an added bonus, studies have shown that exercise can increase inspiration. Exercise releases endorphins that improve mood and aide in motivation. A routine will help you with the new rhythm of the day.

Switch Things Up

Dress up a day or two—at least change your pajama pants. Move your work desk if the view from there no longer inspires you. This can help you uncover new work habits you may never have known about yourself. I found myself more creative in graphic design projects when I moved my workstation near a window, so I could catch a spring breeze and some added Vitamin C.

Find Adventure in the Everyday

I cannot express how important this is for creativity. You do not need to explore an icecap to find adventure. These moments can be found in the smallest of dares. Uncover a new hiking trail, tackle a recipe you’ve been putting off or are too intimidated by, explore your neighborhood and uncover all of its quirks. What you will find will astound you and leave you more creatively fulfilled.

Go Analog

It is so easy to hide behind a screen, now more than ever. Being creative means your brain needs more puzzles to solve than the drama of pixels that make up social media memes and photos. Limit screen time and pick up a book, sketch, write, play music, craft, dance! Your brain craves the challenge of different mediums—don’t deny it.

Create Something, Anything, Even if it’s Bad

Get your bad ideas out and expect them to be bad. Sometimes creative block is just your brain hyper focusing on a bad idea, and the only way to get to the gold is to expel it. There is no perfection without a whole lot of awful.

The Cure for Procrastination

Do a small task that is not creative, but is fulfilling in its own way. Empty the dishwasher, organize a drawer, mark something off of your list that is easily doable. Sometimes you need to work with your mind to solve for something small first, so you can take on something more complex later.

Finally, Forgive Yourself for Not Being Productive or Creative 24/7

Times are difficult and our bodies (and minds) bear the burden of stress, whether we realize it or not. Create space for yourself as you navigate your reality. Sometimes you may need to relive the same day, like in “Groundhog Day”, once more so you have the energy to break the cycle. You’re not working from home. You’re at home working during a global pandemic.

Sometimes you uncover your own coping mechanisms as you go. Until the magical unicorn of a moment comes when we can all hold hands, pack into a buzzing restaurant and order our favorite old-fashioned in a jazz club—keep calm and create on.

Written by: Ashley Tebbe


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