One of the keys to being a creative professional: maintain a comfortable balance of inspiration and motivation while managing stress. I’ve found that while too much stress can hinder my productivity and creativity, too much inspiration and optimism can also set me up for disappointment. Does anyone else feel that way? In the end, it’s all about that balance.
Here are 7 activities I have found to help keep me sustainably inspired and motivated while also minimizing stress.
Hang with friends
My friends inspire me endlessly. They are nerdy, cool, creative and brilliant. When I’m in need of a boost, friends and I will meet at a café to chat about our latest projects, bounce ideas off each other or just talk about nonsense and get away from the stress of work.
Go on exploratory walks
While running and walking are proven to relieve stress (those endorphins!), I also find them inspiring. Exploring your neighborhood exposes you to all types of people, sights, sounds, and least for me, the imaginative homes of Austinites. I like to warm up my creative eye, paying close attention to interesting structures, textures and nature.
I once read that watching reruns of your favorite lighthearted shows is a great way to recharge your brain. You feel comfortable with the show and you don’t have to strain your brain to pay attention. As a freelancer I have the flexibility to watch an episode of Friends over lunch and recharge for the afternoon, or knit in the evening while watching another episode of House Hunters International.
Listen to podcasts
Another thing I love to do while going for a run or stroll: listen to podcasts. I am simultaneously taking a break while getting endorphins and keeping my brain on drive. I like to listen to the seanwes podcast or Being Boss, for instance, during the day. They are work-related so they keep me in work mode. At night I prefer to get out of work mode and listen to Freakonomics, This American Life or Radiolab.
When my apartment is a mess and cluttered, I can’t focus. Some entrepreneurs frown upon this but I do like to clean in the middle of the day – like listening to podcasts on walks, cleaning provides a break from work while still being productive. When I’m finished, I feel refreshed, uncluttered and once again able to focus on the tasks at hand.
Listen to music
I used to always have music playing while I worked. For some reason, I find myself working in silence a lot these days. But when I start to get overwhelmed or distracted, I’ll put on some of my favorite get-shit-done music – TV on the Radio, Bon Iver, Alt J, Jake Bugg, Generationals – and stark cranking things out. Listening to music becomes a relaxing reminder: “Okay Jess, feeling relaxed? Now let’s do this.”
Work from a café
I love cafes. I love the smell of coffee, the bustling of people, the sense of academia when everyone is working, the chats, and the creativity flowing throughout. When I’m feeling uninspired and I have a lot go get done, I’ll get out of the house and over to a café. It makes me feel like a part of society, a part of something larger than myself. If I can grab a friend to join me, I also have someone to bounce ideas off of (or even just eat lunch with).
So what about you? What are some ways you stay motivated and reduce stress?