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A different perspective on productivity

A different perspective on productivity

How being in the here and now, can boost your productivity big time

I’m not going to give you a quick productivity hack. Quick-fixes are likely to boost you for a couple of days, just to leave you with where you’ve started out, or worse. Totally exhausted. They often offer you a high-low cycle that keeps you searching for a better tip.

What I’m going to tell you, will take time and effort. But the benefits that come if you stick with it long enough, will be much more than worth it. (more…)

The 5 minute creative practice that changed my life

The 5 minute creative practice that changed my life

A daily creative activity is not something that comes easily to a lot of us. Especially when we have so many obligations and care taking duties. But that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible, or that it’s just for “those artist people”. Still it can be an amazingly satisfying activity to add to your life. To create a habit of creating, you sure need to be prepared to do some work and put in some effort. It can be hard in the beginning, but when you find your way to do it, it becomes effortless. (more…)

The Creative Future – Fostering creativity in our children

The Creative Future – Fostering creativity in our children

Picture this: you come home to see your child crafting a mini model of your house at the table. So immersed in the work that he doesn’t even realise that you’re there. The look on his face is a mixture of deep concentration and pure happiness. It’s already his fourth creative project that he himself initiated. Or your daughter who’s invented a fun little car from branches and other random material that she’s found around the garden. She’s jumping up and down with joy when she presents it to her collection of stuffed animals.

In the last decade, creativity became more and more of an accepted trait. Even a required asset in job descriptions. With all the research finally acknowledging how crucial creativity is for one’s life, there’s no wonder that parents are focusing on nurturing creativity in their children.

You’re probably wondering where the heck that link is to the ’50 art projects you can do with your toddler’ or the ’20 holiday handmade gifts your preteen will enjoy doing’. I wish I could give you some magic projects that would guarantee success. That would set your children up to a happy, creative life where they do creative work without even thinking twice about it. But there is no magic activity here.

While those projects have a place and time, most people actually end up doing none of the 50 that are listed. They can be crazy amazing activities, but still people won’t do them. Why is that? I’ve found that there are a couple of reasons. One being that until you won’t prioritise creativity for yourself, you likely won’t do any creative projects with your kids either. (I know, right?! It stings…) The other is that you might not have enough information or resources to do the activities, or it seems like more work to set it up and clean it up, then how much fun the kids will have with it.

So what’s the deal? Why is it so damn hard to just do those fun activities with your kids? I see a lot of parents who want their children to stay creative. Or asking how they can ignite creativity in their children. It’s something that parents REALLY want. There is no problem in motivation and there are tons of creative projects available on the web that require very basic resources. Then why can’t we do it?

I believe that most of us know, deep down in our hearts that the fun projects are not of primary importance. I already touched on it above, but the single most important thing you can do is model creative behaviour to your children. Yes, that’s right! We hear it all the time that children copy our behaviours. That a thousand words are still less effective then body language and habits they see us using. It is something they instinctively do. Modelling their behaviour after ours is actually a survival skill. Just like the bear cubs modelling their mother’s hunting behaviour while playing/roughhousing with each other. Or like the baby giraffe, who looks at her mother to know which plants are edible and which not. Mirroring our behaviours is one of the most powerful ways for children to learn.

So give the example. Be creative. Do carve out time for yourself (or together if you wish) to create. If you make this a priority for yourself, your children will grow up seeing it as a natural and normal part of life (which it really is). The best way to ignite those creative fires in our children is to allow ourselves the time and pleasure of creating. The rest will follow effortlessly.

 

How to tap into your creativity

How to tap into your creativity

I struggled with my creativity for a very long time. I had a hard time getting into creating regularly, especially after becoming a mother. So I put it on the side. But that made me crankier than the kids just before dinner-time. You see, I have a degree in illustration, so the option of not pursuing any creative activity until ‘someday’ stung hard. Extremely hard.

 

I’m going to put it out there: I’m not the type of illustrator who sits down and just draws the whole day, every day. Not at this period in my life anyway. I was drawing and writing a lot as a child, but I was also going to dancing classes and took piano lessons, had long hours of swimming practice and did a lot of exploring with friends. I was never the type who would just do the art, no matter what and you haven’t seen me all the time with a sketchbook glued under my arm either. I’ve had my fair share of creative dry spells. I had them while I was getting my Illustration degree and even after that.

 

Sometimes it took weeks, months, even years before I would create something new. Until I realised a very simple, but profound thing. To be able to tap into your creativity on demand, you need to create a habit of creating. Habits are patterns, repeated over time until they become effortless. I know it seems heretic to even mention repetition on the same page with creativity, but it works. It helped me to avoid ruts and false promises of someday. Sounds great, right? Then let’s get into the how-to of creating habits.

 

To make something a habit, you need 3 things to line up for you: a trigger (time of day, an action, even an alarm) then the habit itself (in our case our creative activity)  and a reward. Now the reward is a very important part and it takes some time to figure out. Because we are different, different things work for each of us. Some of us will feel rewarded after making something tangible, something you can use, hang up and look at afterwards. But for some of us it’s a little more complicated. I suggest that you sit with yourself a little bit to figure out why you’re creating in the first place. Really dig deep, don’t stop by the very first thing that comes into mind. Keep asking why until you feel very energised and confident with what you’ve unearthed.

 

When you find your reason to create, you can plan your reward accordingly. Is it relaxing for you? Then a cup of relaxing thee or a face mask could do the job. Is it exciting or energising for you? Then a peppermint or piece of dark chocolate could work. Is it just that you can share it and experience the joy of compliments? (I’ll talk about why this is probably not your actual reason to create, but it’s okay for now) Then cheer yourself on very hard afterwards.

 

The point is that you try out some different things according to what you reflect on and see how they work for you. Take your time and try it 5-6 times. Then check-in on your progress.

 

You also don’t need to overthink it. It can be very simple, like always sitting down in the same chair after dinner, with a cup of thee next to you. A good example of a simple reward is my meditation practice. I’ve wanted to meditate for a long time, but never got to it. But then I learned more about it and the mysteries were kind of solved. I started to meditate and dedicated the inside cover of my journal to mark the consecutive days that I’ve been meditating. And I wouldn’t miss even one day, because for me, the reward of being able to mark the end of my journal every day I meditate is just priceless! I love watching the page get filled with those lines. That’s my reward. It’s not big, but worth it for me totally (yeah, I’m that kind of gal ;)). And even if I’m dead tired and do only a 5 minute session, I get to draw that little line! I made the reward about showing up and it keeps me coming back for more. So the same routine -however short or simple- will help your brain to automatically recognise the situation and know “it’s time to be creative”.

 

Making habits takes time and for most of us it takes some trial and error. Just like everything that is worth pursuing. I’m still afraid of failing. But I realised that even trying just one day and then fail is already worth so much more than never trying at all. Especially if you look at failing as just another great opportunity to learn. What went wrong? What do I need to adjust? Maybe it’s the time of day, or my reward? Maybe I just need a reminder to pop up in my phone. Experiment and you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful habit of creating regularly! BOOM! Creativity on demand.