Get on with a Reboot

Have you ever sat down at your desk first thing in the morning ready to push out the better parts of your creative juices, then you suddenly realize you’re all dried up? Creatively that is.

You have two options. Plunder through it with or make a big move.

Today I decided to Get on with it and reboot my creativity.

No reason to complain or dilly dally because sometimes you just have to either be happy or shut the hell up. I’m not the type to shut my mouth or my creativity no matter how dry things may seem to be. So here is how I rebooted my creativity as a designer.

Why so serious?

My work had become pedestrian. As the only in-house designer at my job, it became clear that design can turn stale without creative feedback. No matter how many times I rearranged my desk and office, I was simply uninspired to break out of the standard box designs.

Photo By Len dela Cruz

So I had to climb up out of that box. For good.

I Turned off the distractions.

Literally, I turned off everything. I mean I couldn’t exactly turn off the internet because my job depends on it but I did go into full disable mode. By creating a “new” user on my computer, I could restrict the distracting email and browser clients that pinged incessantly with clutter. But that didn’t work out so well. So, I decided to do 3 things. Trim my inbox noise, Prune my office clutter and Focus my senses.

1. Trimming the inbox noise

Its not as though we intend to become slaves to our inboxes. I mean, I remember when I was checking email on a vms/vax system and for those times I thought life was good. Now, when you have every goods or service industry requiring your email to serve you online — because this is our somewhat unique identifier to them — your inbox then becomes the catch-all side table in your foyer at home. You know what I mean? That little table that served as the welcome vessel for keys, bills and junk mail that you ignored until it started to pile up to the point of receiving mail on its own.

Once I decided that enough was enough, I searched and found the very effective site “Unroll.me” which let me prune and organize my inbox like it was brand new. Turns out I was receiving 231 subscription emails of various types (shopping, travel, social, deals&rewards, etc.).

231

Yeah. No wonder I was overwhelmed and falling behind on responding to important communications.

Now to be clear, as Joe Manna points out, Unroll.me can be useful however, because its new, can be problematic leading to important missed email confirmations. At the end of the day, it acts as a Proxy. So I decided to brew some coffee and just use it as a guide to crawl through and find all of the subscriptions so I can go through the painstaking process of unsubscribing from repetitive solicitations (hello Groupon email 1, 2, and 3 all saying the same thing). It took about 3 hours but I am now down to 29 IMPORTANT email subscriptions that are valuable to my business and personal life. YES!

2. Pruning office clutter

The next step was easy. I hired a life coach.

I had to retrain myself how to take, keep and organize notes.

Seriously, my office was so bad that my dog had post-it reminders to be fed. Well not exactly but pretty close.

With the help of my coach, I began using a task-based system of organizing my work life. Every morning over coffee, I listed all of the priority tasks I needed to get through before noon and after noon. I only checked my email at 8am, noon and 3:30pm everyday and only for 20 minutes. This methodically kept me on task for projects and allowed me to work through best responses to email without reacting with urgency all the time. Additionally, I found this type of schedule left much needed time for mental breaks. I even started taking walks midday since I didn’t have so much clutter to deal with.

3. Focusing the senses.

Finally, I had to establish visually creative cues in my space that would stimulate me to maintain productivity. I simply lined my bookshelf with my goto inspiration publications or magazines, put up simple artwork (yay for ETSY) and faced my desk towards the window.

Some find a window can lead to distractions but let’s be honest. Life is a constant inspiration and sometimes its worth the 2 minute distraction as long as your surroundings aren’t filled with clutter that doesn’t help you move forward.

I’m going to go walk my dog now.