One of the things I really struggled with in the first two months of working for myself was finding a good balance between work and play. By Christmas, I felt that I was only doing client work, and all my own projects had been put on the back burner. In addition, I didn’t have any new ideas - and that was when I knew I needed to change something.
I started to plan in time for play and getting inspiration. This prevents me from feeling guilty - although I still have to remind myself that staying inspired and creating a healthy balance of work and play IS part of my work routine now - and, most importantly, provides fuel for my idea list.
These are the things I’ve tried so far this year to stay inspired - I hope that they provide some inspiration or food for thought for you if you’re ever stuck in an inspiration-less rut. Also, any recommendations on how you stay inspired are highly welcome!
1. Go outside.
After my first two months of freelancing, I went for a vacation over Christmas break. Three glorious weeks without work. A lot of that time I spent outside snowboarding or taking walks in the Dolomites - and that was excellent to take my mind off of work.
But it doesn’t have to be a long vacation - there’s a lot of scientific evidence for the benefits of a short walk in nature! A 20 minute walk works wonders sometimes. I try to make sure that I'm actually somewhere in nature - city walks are fun (I love people watching ;)), but I find that going to a park helps to take my mind off of work more easily.
2. Work out.
Added benefit of going snowboarding for two weeks is that you just cannot THINK when you’re on the slope. You have to trust your body, your instinct, and on good days this feels as if you’re one with your board. If you do have the opportunity to go skiing, snowboarding, climbing, hiking, kiteboarding for a day or two - do it.
If not, work out. 15, 30 minutes - that’s enough to clear your mind. You can even do it at home - just go on Youtube and search for Yoga or Pilates or Bodyweight Training and do one or two videos. Bonus: A lot of good ideas come to you when you’re under the shower after a workout! I’m a nerd, so this shouldn’t surprise you, but we actually have Aqua Notes in the shower - a little waterproof notepad to jot down ideas while you’re in the shower 😉
3. See an exhibition.
I love museums - and seeing other artists' work is a great way to get inspired. You get tons of new ideas, you see different techniques, and if it’s a good exhibition, you also get to know the story behind the artworks. Artists are fascinating to me because most of them seem to have an inherent drive to make art no matter whether they are getting good feedback on it or none at all. This is so different from our entrepreneurial culture where you constantly give and receive feedback and opinions and adjust based on them. How different must a lifestyle be that is just focused on making - no matter what others say?
For Berlin, I highly recommend the shows in the Martin-Gropius-Bau. They’re usually very well curated and the building is amazing. I went there last Saturday to see the exhibition of photographer Germaine Krull (which closed on Jan 31st), and everything that I’ve seen there was good.
I also just came back from the Museum of Photography / Helmut Newton Foundation close to the Zoo - they have a great permanent exhibition on Helmut Newton, and an excellent overview of his fashion work for magazines from the 60s to end of the 90s. Highly recommend it!
4. Go to the theater.
I love Netflix (still working on catching up with Scandal…) - but nothing can beat a great live theatre production or an amazing ballet performance. Seeing dancers and actors perform live on stage is such a joy. There’s so much love and sweat and tears and work in every single production!
Completely takes my mind off of work and I usually come home with a head full of creative ideas. In Berlin, the Staatsballett has amazing performances!
This is just a quick overview of a couple of the things I do if I’m in this anxious place of having to work, but not having any ideas or being stuck. In addition, I try to plan in time for getting in an exhibition or two per month now - scheduling it makes me less likely to skip it 😃 Tell me - what are you doing to stay inspired?