Keep your batteries charged.
These days, we run around with a bunch of devices. Laptops and phones and tablets and bluetooth headphones and all manner of other techno-fetish gear. And nearly all of these devices get plugged in and recharged daily.
It’s too bad many of us meat-based devices don’t take the hint. As creative people, running low on juice in the middle of a big project can have dire consequences.
I talk to a lot of people about the work I do (which, if I’m being honest, is not easy) and about my monster 11-hour commute to and from my home on Nantucket (even more so). And they all say the same thing: “I don’t know how you do it.”
Here’s how: I take steps to keep my batteries fully charged. In four ways: Sleep. Meditation. Beach. Guitar.
These four things (plus my amazing, funny and talented wife, and, as long as we are still being honest, my dog) sustain me. But, more importantly, they recharge me.
I used to be one of those misinformed people who thought sleep was merely an annoyance that got in the way of productivity. I bragged about my all-nighters and getting to work with just 2–3 hours of Zs under my belt. But these days I put a huge amount of stock in getting a minimum of seven hours a sleep each night in order to go to work with a brain that is well rested and ready to create. Eight hours is even better. In his book, Essentialism, Greg McKeown talks at length about the benefits of not doing everything, but instead doing fewer things better. And sleep is an important part of his philosophy. Says McKeown, “Sleep will enhance your ability to explore, make connections, and do less but better throughout your waking hours.” (Feel free to stop reading now and take a nap if you are inspired to do so. It’s good for you.)
Two weeks ago, at the 2017 Creative Leaders Retreat sponsored by the One Club, I was fortunate to hear David Angelo, founder of David&Goliath, speak on the subject of becoming a well rounded creative and business person, and one of the seven essential steps he mentioned was regular meditation. It’s sound advice. Any time I feel life is out of balance, I turn to meditation. I’m fortunate that I have a few times set aside to center, calm myself and practice mindfulness. My favorite place to meditate is on the boat to and from Nantucket. I also meditate on airplanes, in my living room, and sometimes even at work. (I was fortunate enough to be in a creative presentation last week that started with a 3-minute meditation session. Nice.) If you want to learn more about meditation and how it can impact your life in a positive way, check out 10% Happier by Dan Harris (his website and app are worth a look as well) or the audio recording, Practicing Mindfulness: An introduction to Meditation by Mark Muesse. Good stuff.
Over 80% of the population of the world lives near the water. Homes on the water command a 40–80% premium over homes one or two lots back from the shore. There are some people, me included, who have to be by (and preferably in) the water or we just don’t feel right. Why? Because, according to Wallace Nichols in his book, Blue Mind, there is documented science to show that being “near, in, on, or under water can make you happier, healthier, more connected, and better at what you do.” Take it from someone who lives five days a week in Hartford, CT (A city that literally paved over one of its own waterways, the Hog River, aka, Park River, which is next to my apartment building) but makes his way back to his home on Nantucket each weekend: it’s true. A connection with the water is vital to my well being, creativity and happiness. My dog and I try to hit the beach at least once a week. Regardless of the weather.
I’m not a great guitar player. I’m not even a very good guitar player. What I am is a consistent guitar player. I use the guitar as another form of meditation. Sometimes that meditation means playing a riff or a whole song I have played many times before, to center myself and find a rhythm that is missing in the chaos of my life. And sometimes that meditation requires learning something new to play (right now I’m trying to learn this song; warning: lyrics are not safe for work). Varying my technique. Picking up a new guitar with a different shaped neck or new sound. Discovering a fresh perspective. There is discipline in playing a musical instrument. But there is also instant reward and feedback. Someday I may play in front of people (besides my wife and my dog). Until then, it remains a personal pursuit.
There are a few other ways I like to refresh my outlook. I cook. And write. And drink coffee.
How do you recharge your batteries? Let me know.
Grant Sanders is the Creative Director at Mintz + Hoke Advertising in Avon, CT where his batteries get un-charged in several fun and challenging ways. While at his home on Nantucket, spending time with his wife and dog, he usually reverses the polarity.