Shakespeare wrote King Lear while the Globe Theatre was closed during the London plague of 1606. Issac Newton wrote seminal papers on gravity and calculus while working from home during another plague a few decades later. That said, no one expects you to write the great American novel or validate string theory during our current period of self-isolation, but that’s no reason to give up on your creative practice during coronavirus. Everyone has their own path to enlightenment—here are a few tips that may shore up your creativity at a time like this.
1. Set Boundaries and Make a Routine
With work and home life blurred together, it’s more important than ever to set a schedule for each day, make sure it’s communicated to colleagues, and stick to it. “As we transition to a new life working from home, it’s essential to create new habits to make work, work,” says Alex Grieve, executive creative director at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO. Even the CDC recommends sticking to a routine to help manage stress. In other words, it’s still a good idea to brush your teeth and change out of sweatpants before noon (but no shade if that’s your new work OOTD). Take a few minutes at the end of each week to check in and evaluate what’s working and what needs tweaking. Don’t be afraid to ask your colleagues or manager for what you need! For more tips, read our recent article on getting things done from home.
2. Slow Down, Move Around
In times of crisis, some people turn to family and friends. Others turn to their faith. We’ve turned to Dance Church. Oh, and The Workout Today and digital yoga. No matter what’s happening in the outside world, be sure to prioritize bite-sized creative activities at least once a day. Still your mind with meditation, relax tense muscles in a hot bath, or pick your flavor of at-home yoga (Adriene literally has a yoga video for every possible state of being). If you’re not feeling up for that, DrJud has a great playlist of videos for dealing with coronavirus-related anxiety. Whatever downtime activities you choose, be honest about what brings you joy (shout-out to Marie Kondo!) and make it a priority.
3. Find New Sources of Creative Inspiration and Learning
Pinterest and Instagram are great sources of creative inspiration, but the NOW-NOW-NOW nature of social media can be overwhelming. Get some perspective by experiencing the breadth of art created throughout human history: The National Gallery in London, New York’s MoMA, and Musée d’Orsay in Paris are a few museums offering virtual tours (check out Google Arts & Culture for a more extensive list). Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Opera and musicians like Neil Young and Chris Martin of Coldplay have been streaming their performances online. You can also use downtime to upskill. Stanford, Harvard, and MIT offer free online lectures, while Skillshare, Lynda, and Coursera all have a vast catalog of vocational courses.
4. Engage Your Creativity
There’s always a lurking fear that the creative juices will stop flowing when you need them most. Remember, your wellspring of creativity is endless; it’s just a question of what your mind and body need to get it flowing again. Sometimes, it’s as easy as asking your creativity, “What do you need right now?” Sometimes, you need to shut off Netflix and start playing the harmonica again. Give your creative self some air, tend to it, be kind, and give it an imaginary cookie. (It really deserves a cookie.) For more functional and less out-there ways to engage your creativity, participate in a social media exercise like 36 Days of Type, write some creative fiction on Reddit’s Writing Prompts forum, or do some at-home science experiments with your kids.
5. Reconnect with Your Community
Seeing empty toilet paper aisles at the grocery store might make you lose faith in humanity (I’m on my last two rolls as I type this), but crises are a great opportunity to embrace your most selfless self. Take a break from the news (and your inner thought) cycle and ground yourself with work that is immediate and tangible. If you’ve been shy about connecting with your community, this is the time to offer a helping hand. Help neighbors minimize errand excursions by offering to pick up groceries or prescriptions, especially if they’re elderly or vulnerable. If you’re in an urban area, take a cue from these Italian musicians and serenade your neighborhood. Volunteer at a local food bank or make an appointment to donate blood with the Red Cross. (Be sure to practice good coronavirus hygiene during any in-person interactions!) If leaving the home isn’t an option for you, connect with your neighbors on Nextdoor or organize an online meeting with Zoom to replace cancelled community events.
We know it’s not easy to practice self-care and stay motivated right now, but trying is worth the effort. Or maybe it’s not, and you can use this downtime to embrace shuffling around the house, arguing with your creative muse in your pajamas.
In any case, whether you’re looking for remote talent to join your team or looking for a remote team to join, Artisan is looking to connect creatives with great jobs—now more than ever. Sign up for our newsletter for more tips and updates.
Looking for more on motivation? Check out our recent blog, Finding Your Purpose at Work - and Keeping It.