It’s a new day and there’s much to be done – plan, act, schedule, conclude etc.
It’s busy, amplified.
Amidst it all, there are times one yearns that creative inspiration be served and we need not seek. That the new day be better and bigger and we meet it head on with new ideas and a fresh perspective.
With that in mind, while you frantically prep and go about your days, find below a road map for an ocassional creative pause. With these ideas for personal development, rejuvenate your soft skills, problem solving and learning aspirations to start anew with a charged mind!
These bite sized recommendations will challenge you to tread unexplored pathways, expand your horizon and think differently. Use them in the way that suits your purpose, to ignite that creative spark.
“Your spark can become a flame and change everything.”- E.D. Nixon
Rethink skills, career and beyond – exercises for any time of the year
1. Read and not supersede
Beyond Netflix, try binge reading for a change. Even more, take on a different genre altogether. Free Audiobooks and ebooks ensure that you can easily experiment and see what catches your fancy. If you are pressed for time, use a fast-track route to learning with bite sized insights on any book (in audio or text) to enable you to read up to 4 non-fiction books in a day.
Need recommendations? Start with these thought provoking non-fiction stories that take on women’s issues with a twist. Curl up with What She Ate and reflect on how food touches every aspect of your life or read Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too loud to see how high-profile, successful women persist despite the vicious social judgement they face.
Who knows, someday in the future, you might co-develop the book of your dreams or influence the outcome by being immersed in one.
2. Let Music enhance your work
Studies show that a moderate level of ambient noise enhances performance on creative tasks.
Experiment with new music while working to take you beyond your comfort playlists. Swap or investigate the music preferred by someone you look up to.
If information put musically helps you recall better, why not adapt your elevator pitch to some? Or sing your way to a new language by using its pop songs to improve your recall, pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary.
3. Hear Speakers speak their craft
The breakfast lecture series by Creative Mornings, allows you to both attend a talk or watch them online. With themes like Empathy, Humility, Beyond, Revolution etc, these talks inspire you to question every existing belief and practice.
Discover and connect with local talent at Tedx events, TED-style events to spark deep conversations and connections at the local level. Or even better, aspire and aim to speak at one.
4. Watch with a storyteller’s eye
Whether it’s a short video on a creativepreneur who’s incredibly passionate about what he does, or an animated clip to egg us to to look up from our gadgets and be present, discover, and initiate conversations with short, yet powerful videos.
Easily watched and shared along with friends, family and colleagues, sometimes videos can convey what words can’t.
Have a thought to share? Start with creating your own stop motion message with
just a smartphone.
5. Skill up with a Girls Night Out Learning
GNOL– a fancy term for something you probably already do. Think about it. Who better to pick up a new skill than a girlfriend to keep you motivated and on track? Whether it’s a Public Speaking Class or setting up an online store with Shopify or a stocks course on stocks, all for free, some things have a higher chance of fruition with a friend alongside.
6. Create with your hand (sans gadget)
Challenge yourself to build something out of the everyday objects. It increases your hand-eye coordination and gives you a unique sense of pride and ownership over something tangible. Use reusable construction tools to build something out of everyday cardboard, like a desk organiser or a 3D sculpture, DIY a pop up card or doodle away with some hand lettering or Zentangles.
As a designer, my work has increasingly moved to digital and getting my hands dirty has become a rarity. That’s why I jumped at the chance to participate in an introductory local woodworking class. Here’s a picture of my proud creation. With the right tools, guidance and attitude, it took a novice like me a little over 2 hours to complete this project.
7. Clean and purge one at a time (in time bursts)
The positive effect of organized things is hypnotic. Being structured induces calmness while clutter adds to both mental and physical baggage. We all know it, yet we rarely get around to claiming those 5 minutes required to organize a desk.
Set a timer for yourself everyday and challenge yourself to 5 minutes of organization. Rethink your filing system, reorganize your phone apps or unsubscribe from the emails that cause overwhelm. Look back after a few days and joyfully see how it all adds up.
Peek inside the KonMari Method of tidying up, with this insightful, illustrated introduction. On days when you need a bit more push, Things organized neatly will inspire your visual senses with no item out of place images. It might even get you to start your own knolling- a process of arranging related objects in parallel or 90-degree angles as a method of organization.
8. Use friendly tech to tackle stress
Too much work? Too little time? Lack of self discipline? Ever feel like bundling up the stuff that’s bothering you and flinging it far away. With Pixel Thoughts, not only can you watch it fade away into the universe, but you do it to the tune of relaxing music and words that remind you that it will all be better. This 60 second meditation tool will make you smile.
Need something more? Explore the possibilities guided meditation offers you. A beautifully designed mindfulness app like Headspace has cool and fun graphics, that alone are worth your time.
9. Imagine an undiscovered color
It could yet be named after you or someday, robots might take that job.
Why not step out of your league and experiment with wearing a new color?
Why? Because getting uncomfortable in a situation is a great way to grow and save yourself from settling. Wearing a color you don’t like gives you a sneak peek into being uncomfortable in the public eye and hones your discomfort skills. Try it if you dare and see what the experience taught you about yourself.
10. Laugh at yourself
Witty humor, the kind that clears the air, is hard to do well and so easy to mess up. Clever and well timed humor is a sure way of rising up the likeability ladder. So why not practice some self deprecating humor as a start.
Listen to what others say about you (that you don’t really appreciate) and then embrace that advice and make fun of it.
This was the toughest one for me and it’s a work in progress.
“Did I ever tell you how much I regret viewing Dora the Explorer with my kids? Now I have to repeat everything three times to be understood.”
I think I have a phone problem. When I’m checking my phone and my co-worker asks me to not be antisocial at the party, I go “What party?”
See, it’s a start!
11. Develop your own mantra
Do you have an inspirational power phrase that you repeat to yourself. To propel you or to calm you? To improve your performance and focus?
When I started running seriously for the first time, it was not easy. Thirty seconds into an enthusiastic start, I would be questioning myself. So I developed a chant – “Walking is not an option.” Even today, when I run half marathons, I might slow down to a jog but I never walk.
When things upset me, I also like to tell myself to “Move on. This too shall pass.”
The meditative “Om” is another power syllable my father always encouraged me to use – a way to silence the outside world and listen inwards.
12. Be the Hero of the game
If you’ve ever played the board game of Life, you know what I mean. Take things up a notch with flashcard style prompt cards that help you unblock a Career crisis or lead you through a journey of self-knowledge with Know yourself.
13. Do the Verb
“If you want to be the noun, first do the verb.”- Austin Kleon
“The lady with the endless ideas – Yesterday Designer and Entrepreneur Aditi Tandon initiated the award ceremony with her creative thinking and out of the box ideas to change the……….”
Write your celebrity bio the way you want it to read and then commit to doing an action that will take you there. Writing this blog is another brick in my wall.
14. Use the art of Collage
Bring life to your inner turmoil with poetry created using cut-out newspaper words or make a career vision board as a graphic representation of your dreams and aspirations. A prominently displayed visual work, is a fantastic way to have your ambitions stare at you everyday and initiate you to align your actions to match.
15. Make a wee green change
Doesn’t sound like much and that’s exactly the point. Small green changes make you feel better and help our planet. Initiate a carpool, mindfully turn off your gadgets when not in use, or buy reusable coffee mugs. Upcycled, recycled, repurposed – identify your buzzword, take it a step further and spread the eco-friendliness by investing in DIY green gifts.
16. Compound the positivity
Certain times of the year, there is serious magic in the air.
Why not grow it?
Share a smile, do a good deed, offer a ride, promote a fellow career woman with a shout-out, testimonial or endorsement. It will leave two people feeling great that day!
17. Commit to a Digital Detox
“Offline is the new Green”
Enlist your friends or family to devise a digital detox manifesto and reconnect with what really matters. Be it creating a digi-free space, turning off notifications, walking over to a colleague’s desk instead of texting, sharing meals with no phone allowed rules – add inputs from each one to ensure a better likelihood of commitment.
18. Think back to the Future
You know that popular ask – what would you say to your 20 year old self? Why not twist it around and imagine yourself 20 years older and in a good place, where you have achieved what you wanted. What would you write to your present self?
19. Switch up your routine
Simple tweaks like getting up or going to bed a few minutes earlier can be game changers to your mental well being and time management challenges. Shaking up the status quo can be fun too. For inspiration, discover new ideas to mix into your morning routine by reviewing over 260 routines of successful creatives.
View key stats on alarms, media usage, breakfast and workout patterns as well as discipline etc. and learn what separates the wheat from the chaff.
20. Discover purpose in or beyond work
What do you believe in? What do you stand for? Is it a social cause that ignites you? A practice at work that bothers you? Do you like helping people?
Find the common ground between your strengths, what you like to do and what the world needs. Join a community or start your own – stand by and for something. Identify and initiate conversations over what moves you.
With the unlimited information we have an access to today, curiosity and creative exploration should be a mandate of the times. Imagination is not an exclusive domain of designers. Creativity resides in each one of us. How we choose to pull it forth is our mojo.
Mirror Mirror on the wall! YOU can be creative after all!
You can’t use up creativity. The more you create, the more you have.
A Designer and Entrepreneur, Aditi graduated from a top design school and subsequently started her own design and merchandising business. Co-founder at Maroon Oak, she has over 17 years of business experience with Two Dotts, her design consulting company and an Etsy store which serves as an outlet for her gifts and patented product designs.
A mother to a teen and a tween, she enjoys running, dancing and raising her newest baby, a Bichon named Miltie.
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