Being Creative in the New Normal
Self-Isolation is Not the End of Creativity
It's been the first full week of the new self-isolation and work-from-home routine. And for many, it's been a stressful period of adjustment. Carving out a workspace (or more than one in many cases) in an apartment with no spare room, learning the finer points of tele-conferencing, minding/teaching/caring for your children all day (while you work), staying indoors more often than usual, avoiding face-to-face social interactions, and this is only a short list. Even something as simple as going to the store for groceries now feels like it requires a strategic plan to minimize trips.
It's been tough on many people, young and old.
More than ever, it's important to consider your personal mental health. It's very tempting to spend your entire day in front of your laptop when you work from home. It's a natural instinct because that's what you do when you're in the office, right?
Or do you? Think about it. Yes, you spend a lot of time at your office desk, but you also:
- Take coffee breaks
- Chat with your colleagues
- Go out for lunch (or leave your desk at least)
- Have impromptu team meetings
- Go out to meet with customers
- Get a glass of water or a soda
- Grab a snack, maybe another coffee
- Get stopped in the hall to chat with someone on your way to or from the office kitchen
- Commute to and from work
You actually do a lot of things at the office where you are not necessarily at your desk. Keep that in mind when you're working from home.
Taking a break to stretch your legs is important. It gets the blood flowing and your eyes off that email list. Get that glass of water, or coffee. Talk to your colleague as you walk down the hallway. Fluffy may not respond unless you have treats, but at least you tried.
The Best Camera...
Whether or not you think you are a "creative" person, pretty much everyone has a smart phone, these days. Why not use one of those breaks to visually explore the familiar? Stretch your mind and your creative eye? There are many photo opportunities around you, inside and just outside your home. Often, they are things you've taken for granted, visually, simply because you see them every day. Start taking a closer look. Notice the texture in some brickwork when the sun rakes across it, raindrops on a window, the reflection in a coffee cup. Your smart phone is well-equipped to capture most things in and around your home, often in really low light.
As you look around, ask yourself why something caught your eye. Was it the lighting? The colours? Abstract shadows cast on a wall? The simple juxtaposition of a few objects, seen from a different angle?
The images below were all shot around my house, with my iPhone or my Olympus digital camera (mostly iPhone, though) over the past few weeks. I work from home a lot so I take these breaks regularly. There's an excellent chance you will sense a theme here, but really, it's just about taking a few minutes and focussing (pardon the pun) on something else, other than your computer screen and email or spreadsheets. It could be something just in front of me, like the fake sunflowers or one of my cats (Chuck, or Callie) or a wine glass(es). Or it could be something that takes a couple minutes to set up. Serendipity, however, is best for those of you who don't take a lot of pictures.
Just so we're clear all adult beverage shots were made after 5pm or on the weekend. Just sayin'...
These photos were taken during a short, socially distanced walk in a nearby park. Any of these could have easily been captured with a phone.
Fun for the Whole Family
Of course, your self-isolation may not be totally singular; you may be home with your partner, your kids or both. Here are a couple ideas that you can do as a couple or family.
Plan a Scavenger Hunt
These days, many family members each have their own smartphone. If you're looking for something new to involve and entertain everyone, why not plan a visual scavenger hunt? Everyone gets a list of things around the home, and they have to capture them with their phones. Then you can share them all on Facebook or Instagram. Use a unique hashtag so it's easy to find them all on Instagram, or set up a special photo album on FB.
Create Photo Word Puzzles
Lots of free mobile apps (including Adobe Express), allow you to create image collages or grids. Put together a list of phrases or cliches (e.g. heartstrings, room and board, a bird in the hand...) and then challenge your family team to use two photos they capture or find online that will visually represent the phrase.
A Moment of Zen
A few minutes is all it could take to de-stress, relax and put yourself in a different frame of mind. And who knows? You may come away with a couple photos you are really pleased with.
Self-isolation need not be the end of creativity. Indeed, it could be the beginning of a new form of creativity for you. It can provide a great opportunity for self-reflection, as well. After publishing this article, I was inspired to start a photo-journal of sorts, which I update every week with new photographs and reflections. We are all more than a few weeks into the new Work From Home lifestyle. I think of it as my Pandemic Photo Journal. This is an easy to do and fun project, made using Adobe Express Page. You can find it here: Around the House; Photographic Creativity in These Pandemic Times.