Around the world, artists, designers, and other creative people are sheltered in their homes due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As galleries, theaters, studios, concert venues, and agencies shut down, many of these people are ﬁnding that they need to do their creative work from home and develop new ways of making money.
One of the biggest challenges for these newly homebound creatives is that they are separated from many of their collaborators and feeling isolated from the world. It can be hard to be creative when in isolation, especially when you’re also stressed about the future.
Still, it’s important to stay healthy, which in turn can help boost your motivation.
Let’s look at some strategies to keep yourself sane, productive, and creative.
Take Time to Rest
A fresh mind is a creative one, so it’s crucial that you take some downtime to help yourself stay productive. When you feel a case of creative block coming on or you suddenly ﬁnd that you despise all of your designs, the worst thing you can do is struggle through it. Instead, take a break to rest your mind and body. Distance yourself from your work to recharge and recover.
As the saying goes, “You cannot pour from an empty glass.” You should also ensure that you’re getting enough rest at night. Sleep deprivation impairs a lot of mental functions, including creativity. Disengage from work and devices at least an hour before bed to help your mind relax.
It’s also a good idea to establish bedtime rituals to help yourself sleep better. And don’t be afraid to nap during the day. It can boost your mental function as much as a full night’s sleep!
Use the Pomodoro Technique
Following from that, ensure that your workﬂow builds in adequate time for rest and relaxation. The Pomodoro Technique is an excellent way to build your creative momentum yet keep mental breaks (and wrist/eye breaks) as part of your schedule. Here’s how it works: You set a timer for 25 minutes, then work on your art and nothing else for those 25 minutes (called a Pomodoro). After the 25 minutes are up, you take a 5-minute break, then start a new Pomodoro. After three to four pomodoros, you get a 15- to 20-minute break. This technique provides a sense of urgency that helps you focus yet ensures that you’re taking regular breaks and not burning yourself out.
Get a Change of Scenery
If you experience a case of creative block or ﬁnd that you suddenly hate your desk, aim to switch up your work area. Normally, you’d want to keep a dedicated working space, but desperate times call for desperate measures. You can kickstart your brain into creative gear by moving your work to another part of your home. For example, you could set up a makeshift work space at the kitchen table.
Try spending some time on your porch or balcony, if you have one. Fresh air does wonders for your creativity. If it isn’t possible to change your scenery, try tidying it up. It’s easy to let those old papers clutter the corner of your desk for months, but that can be subconsciously distracting and stressful.
Plus, tidying up is a good way to take a break from the daily grind, and simply the act of cleaning can put you in a state of zen that helps you feel better.
They say that the best writers are ones who read voraciously, the best artists are ones who view art constantly, and so on. If you’re feeling creatively dried up, the problem might be that you’re not getting out of the house.
When all the concert venues, galleries, and theaters are closed, it’s hard to get new sources of inspiration. Or is it? There are plenty of inspirational materials available online. Try watching a new movie, reading an ebook, or visiting any of the many museums that have made their exhibits virtual. Read up on your favorite designer, ﬁlmmaker, or poet.
Ask your friends to share photos of what they’re working on. These are things that you can do everyday to keep yourself inspired and connected to the world.
Do A Puzzle
Sometimes, the creative part of your brain just needs to be rebooted. Doing a puzzle can get those gears turning because it simultaneously stimulates both hemispheres of your brain. When your logical and creative sides have to work together, they boost each other up.
Don’t have any puzzles lying around? You can ﬁnd crossword, sudoku, and other fun puzzles on the Web and in many free apps. Do one whenever you’re feeling a case of creative block.
You’ll be amazed at how the creative juices start ﬂowing again.
Switch Work Modes
If you’re a digital artist or writer, you probably spend a lot of time in front of the computer. If you’re a visual artist or artisan, you likely spend your creative time hunched over an art desk working with your hands. To boost your creativity and prevent creative fatigue, try switching modes.
For example, digital creatives can tend to plants, do a quick painting, or write poetry by hand, just to get away from their devices and give their eyes a break. Meanwhile, physical-world creatives can hop on the computer or phone to work on their website or write a blog.
Simply switching what your hands are doing can help you keep feeling creative without being exhausted.
Proponents of bullet journaling often advise that you keep a gratitude log that you ﬁll out at the start and end of every day (or whenever you’d like). This can be as simple as a heading that says, “I’m grateful for…” followed by a running list of items. These could include your loved ones, your talent, favorite foods, an accomplishment you’re proud of, and so on.
By reﬂecting on what you’re grateful for, you can boost your overall mental and physical health, which, in turn, helps you keep those creative juices ﬂowing. You might also draw inspiration from this reﬂection process.
In fact, just taking time to reﬂect during the day can help loosen creative blocks and decrease your stress.
Reach Out to Others
Working from home often accompanies isolation and even loneliness, which can distract you from your creative work. To help resolve this problem, reach out to a friend. Request feedback from a trusted colleague, collaborate on a project with someone, or just hang out in a Facebook group devoted to your creative ﬁeld. You just might ﬁnd inspiration for your next project or discover something new to explore in your current project. Plus, this is a great thing to do when you’re taking a break from your work.
It will help you feel less anxious and more connected, which supports your mental health. This, in turn, helps keep you feeling creative.
Build a Portfolio
Being in isolation can be a time of self-reﬂection. If you’re struggling to stay creative, it can be helpful to take a break from your current projects and review your past work. Then, assemble your best pieces into a portfolio. Your portfolio should be constantly updated to reﬂect your current expertise and skills.
Be honest: How long has it been since you did that? Take time to do it now and enjoy a boost to your creativity as well! By working on a portfolio, you can motivate yourself to get creative as you afﬁrm the talents you know you have. You might even ﬁnd yourself inspired to revisit some old designs or drafts and rework them into something new. It’s also a good way to help yourself be ready for when everything opens up again.
Embrace Virtual Work
One huge motivator for creative work is an audience, whether that’s an actual live audience or someone viewing your design at work. Without this element, it can be hard to feel like there’s a purpose to your creative work — especially if you’re used to making money from your creativity and have been laid off or unable to perform.
Try branching your artwork out into the digital world, such as through a blog, social media, digital portfolio, or livestreamed shows and workshops. These might even be a good source of income; just have people buy virtual tickets or donate for access to your materials.
Indeed, many artists are ﬁnding that these virtual opportunities can help them diversify their income during the pandemic. Plus, they’re great techniques to afﬁrm your skills and develop your personal brand.
Above all else, prioritize your health and self-care during these difﬁcult times. A well-nurtured body and mind supports creativity; a drained and stressed one does not. To stay creative and productive when in isolation, you need to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself and staying connected to others.
Remember, the world is the ultimate source of inspiration — and even if you’re cooped up inside, there are ways to experience the world and motivate your creative work.