Growing up in Virginia, back-to-school time signaled the transition of summer to fall. The start of a new season. A clean slate that rivaled even New Year’s Day. It was a time of year to make a fresh start, complete with new jeans and backpacks; pristine notebooks and factory-sharp pencils; reuniting with old friends and making new ones; and a wide-open world of possibilities.
As an adult, I still get a little tingle when this time of year approaches. Here in Atlanta, back-to-school arrives a full month before Labor Day, making it much less of a seasonal transition and more of a transitional state of mind. I sent my second grader back last week in shorts and short sleeves, and we have several more weekends of pool time ahead. But, for me, this time of year still means a chance to regroup and refresh, a moment to get my mind (and workspace) straight and set my goals for the rest of the year.
One of those goals is to be more creative. Sounds weird coming from a creative director, right? But I’m the first to admit that when schedules get busy and deliverables need to get out the door, making the creative can get to be more of an assembly line than the inspiring and fulfilling process it should be. So to reset a bit, here’s my lesson plan for the next few months. It’s not AP Physics or anything, just a few tried and true tricks for anyone looking to get those creative juices flowing again.
NEW SUPPLIES A fresh new notebook and a couple pens I love definitely help set that back-to-school vibe. I’m a supply nerd, so these are inspiration in themselves. But in addition, many people believe that writing by hand versus typing can boost your creativity.
DAILY HOMEWORK Speaking of writing, I’ll be doing that for 30 minutes each morning. Not writing emails, not writing for clients, but 30 minutes of stream-of-consciousness writing. It’s a great way to loosen up your mind, release anything that’s been weighing on you and solve problems. Yes, you may even write your way to that next great idea!
FIELD TRIPS A creative mind needs to be fed with new perspectives and new experiences. Spending 8 hours a day every day at the same desk in front of the same computer ain’t gonna cut it. Whether getting out means just working at a coffee shop for the day or heading to the High to see the Warhol exhibit (yes, please!), getting a new view once in a while is a must.
RECESS Sunshine, fresh air and a little heavy breathing aren’t just great for the body. They’re great for the creative mind, as well. Science says so. Whether it’s the endorphins or the simple act of putting your brain on autopilot a minute while your body does the (maybe literal) heavy lifting, a little regular exercise can help when you need to flex those creative muscles.
GROUP STUDY Sure, some creative geniuses need to be left alone. But for the rest of us, talking through our ideas usually helps us make them better. Likewise, socializing with friends and especially laughter have been shown to increase creativity by helping us relax. So, if I ask you to hang out with me in the coming months, we’ll probably both reap the benefits!