And how to remain focused at home
We’ve seen that coming. With COVID-19 cases spiking all across Europe, it was just a matter of time before most of the continent decided to head towards a second lockdown – to “save Christmas,” they say. Though it is still unclear if family lunches and dinners will be part of the picture.
With most of the industry getting prepared to self-isolate again, creative professionals from around the world will likely be asking the same question: how do I keep creative in this second lockdown?
As the first wave so brilliantly taught us, being locked in your house for too long of a period can be mentally draining, not to mention dangerous for your creative juices. Here are some tips to fight the second lockdown with your creativity.
Photo credit: Zara Picken for the Planner
How to stay inspired and motivated in the second lockdown
We have all been through a lot in the past year. But we’ve learned just as much since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, and this second lockdown shouldn’t be as scary as the first one anymore. Still, some of you may be trying to work out how to keep generating creative ideas in self-isolation.
There are countless ways to try to remain creative during lockdown. But to us, they all come down to these 7.
1. Give yourself a structure (write things down!)
Yes, you do have more time on your hands, and yes, this is the right time to use the lockdown to develop new creative hobbies, or to start learning that skill you’ve always wanted to have. But don’t forget that time is still a limited resource and you will run out eventually. The best way to avoid feeling lost is giving yourself somewhat of a structure.
Start with a list.
Create an ordered or unordered list of things you would like to do in your spare time from here till the end of the lockdown. Don’t hold yourself to it too much – it is okay if you overestimate. But do remember to tackle only one point from the list at a time. Once lockdown boredom hits you, go back to that initial list and move onto the next bit.
Don’t forget to take actual time into account. You should know by now what works for you and what doesn’t when living in self-isolation, so make sure to open your favourite calendar and plan away. I personally love to organise my future plans in colours, which helps me build a visual plan of what comes next.
Photo credit: Paul Gawman
2. Come up with a daily (or weekly) creative challenge
Some will easily be overflowing with ideas at this point. Others won’t, and they will be tremendously bored by the prospect of setting up an organised plan for the upcoming month. Boredom in lockdown is absolutely normal and, in fact, it may very well be what you dread the most.
For me, Inktober was an incredible opportunity to improve my drawing skills and learn something in the process. It forced me to squeeze creative juices out of my brain every single day and, though mentally exhausting, it was also extremely rewarding. Your creative challenge need not be daily like mine, especially if you’re short on time due to work and other commitments. It doesn’t matter how often you do it, as long as you remain consistent over time and you stick to your original plan. Even when you’re not really in the mood for it.
Despite recent controversies, Inktober is still one of the most popular creative challenges out there
3. Get a creative pal!
No matter how creative your schedule, challenge or plan will be, you will get bored quite fast if you’re doing it all alone. Phone up that creative pal of yours and ask them to tackle the challenge together. You will be able to exchange ideas while you do it, perhaps collaborate on some bits and do your own mini-challenges to keep supporting each other.
With Winter incoming and days getting shorter, this second lockdown has the potential to feel even gloomier than the first one. Do not open your mental health to more potential vulnerabilities (more on that later); try to remain connected with your friends. A joint creative challenge is an excellent way to do it.
Photo credit: Juice
4. Use technology
If there is one thing the first lockdown taught us, it is that technology has more potential than we could ever believe possible. Whatever you want to achieve, there is an app for that.
If you are struggling to remain focused, for example, you might want to take a look at Forest, an app that plants a little virtual tree in a garden every time you enter long concentration and focus streaks.
You can use reminder apps to keep you organised, games to take a break here and there, gamification apps to give you small rewards during the day, and even apps to keep your inspiration flowing, such as Daily Prompt (for writers) or the evergreen Pinterest. Just open your favourite App Store and start exploring.
5. Read, watch, play – Open your mind!
At some point, your ideas will just run out. No matter what you do and how many apps you have, you will probably meet a roadblock. That’s when you need to start looking elsewhere.
Arguably, the best way to keep inspired and get through a creative block is by exposing your brain to continuous stimuli. Read a book, play a very good narrative or arcade game (interactive stories will inspire you more than you may think), watch a film from your favourite director or listen to a podcast… Anything can get you in the right mood for creativity, and anything can potentially get you inspired to create more.
Photo credit: Ambassadors for Unox
6. Experiment with your own routine
There is no hard and fast rule to find what works best for you. The only way you are going to find your own routine is by experimenting.
Set high targets for yourself that you’re not sure if you’re going to meet, just to see how far you can push yourself. Then, adjust your future plans accordingly.
If you’re an over-achiever, this will be easy for you. If you’re not and you tend to play safe, it can only be good for you to try and step out of your comfort zone. You’d be surprised how many things you’ll learn about yourself once you manage to get out of your usual mindset.
Photo credit: Colette Alexandratos
7. Remember your mental health
No matter how hard you work for your own goals, it won’t get you anywhere if your mental wellbeing is all over the place. Self-isolation can make you feel lonely, and it is not healthy to just remain inside your room for entire weeks, no matter if you’re an introvert or an extrovert. In all honesty, I’m quite bad at following that advice myself.
Take some time to relax in your garden. Take a brief lone walk at lunchtime if you can, and do remember to exercise and connect with your friends during this time. They need you just as much as you need them.
The industry’s mental health is in a pretty rough shape right now, but leaders and influencers from all sectors are working hard to help us get through this together. Remember to take care of yourself. Especially if you are a freelancer.
Photo credit: ENGINE for the Born Free Foundation
How did you keep yourself inspired in the past months?
There are long weeks ahead and this COVID-19 exhaustion is starting to take its toll on all of us. Whatever happens, remember how you managed to get through the past year. This will be more than enough to help you endure for another lockdown.
If you have any general tips, insights or resources (books, podcasts) to share with the community, feel free to leave them in the comments section below for everyone to see.