#15 The gift of solitude; Being creative in a crisis; Digital detox; Doing things differently.

Sunday Reads

I read an interview on AllBright with Nik Govier, CEO + founder of Blurred, talking about how to think creatively, solitude, mindset and innovation in isolation. She sees this as an opportunity to change the way you think and work.

“I encourage everyone; founders, freelancers and executives, to use this time to consider what and how you could adapt to encourage more creativity at work.”

For most people, ‘normal’ life has become incredibly regimented. “From the minute our alarm goes off to the minute we set it again in the evening, we are driven through our days by timesheets and deadlines, meetings and appointments,” she says. But creative thinking doesn’t fit into designated time slots.

I’ve been reflecting on lockdown and it’s been a catalyst for creativity. I’ve got into a good routine—writing in the morning, working at home, sticking my face in the sun, exercising. The best ideas come to you in random places. I’ve decluttered and bought plants and furniture for my home ‘office’. Being physically stronger has helped me mentally.

I’m excited and hopeful and have set myself challenges for the rest of the year to get out of my comfort zone and take a few risks. I see this as a pilot period, an opportunity to experiment and have some fun. Explore new ways to live & work.

Seeing less of people means more mental space, which can be liberating. It forces you to think, create and be in the moment more.

Take 15 minutes a day to do something creative: sort the sock drawer, garden, learn a language, write, sing, record a voice note. All help to keep you in the flow.

“Keep a list, not to say, ‘This is what I need to achieve today,” but ‘This is what I have achieved today.’"—executive coach Nicola Blea.

I’m grateful for the financial support I’ve had and thinking about how I can give back. I’ve been shopping locally, working in cafes, and ‘Eat(ing) Out to Help Out’. I’ve joined Hastings Heart mutual aid, Next Door, the Copywriter Underground and AllBright members’ club—and sent a few messages of support to other business owners.

Five Things I’ve found useful & inspiring this week:

1/ Think Clearly by Mathias Jakobsen. This has evolved to become a media brand with tools and content around learning, teaching, facilitation and creativity. Mathias says his motivation was struggling to think clearly, not enjoying his work anymore and going through some transitions—parenthood and moving to a new country.  

I’m loving his podcast #reframes—stories, sound recordings, and reflections on people he’s met while travelling. Like the surgeon who taught him how to hold a pen properly, which has revolutionised his writing. Lots of good stuff here – cute doodles, book recommendations & tips on how to interview and coach yourself. It feels raw and full of passion. 

2/ Content Cloud—a marketplace for content creators. I did a pitch on wellbeing & managing burnout for Barclays Eagle Labs, a platform for entrepreneurs. I didn’t get the gig, but it led to some interesting conversations with Abigail Baldwin, co-founder of Buttercrumble creative studio, Laurence Moss at Greedy Growth, & more.

You can pitch for projects (good rates of pay) and post your ideas on a private board for clients to see so it’s a place to get your ideas out there. Sign up here

Q&A with Abigail Baldwin on managing burnout.  

3/ AllBright digital membership. Co-founder Anna Jones had coronavirus, and they had to close three of the AllBright clubs during the lockdown. They’ve put more resources into their digital platform and launched their ‘Making It Work’ campaign to help female founders future proof their careers, connect and upskill. Lots of training, online events, articles, and a matching process (when you sign up) so you can meet women doing similar things.

Nik did all her meetings at the club for eight months and says she learned more during that period than any other time in her life—about herself and the world. Physical meetings may not be possible right now, but why not set up a co-working session on Zoom and have a chat with other members?

You can try it for free for 14 days and then it’s £15 a month/£100 a year, which is tax-deductible as a work expense.

4/ United Nations Global Callout to Creatives—an initiative for designers, writers, producers & more to help you get key messages out there about Covid19 to a new audience. You can see the chosen submissions on the website here—lots of creative inspiration and community resources. Sign up to Talenthouse to see creative briefs, opportunities, and connect with other creators.

5/ Cal Newport on Deep Work and Digital Minimalism—‘Deep work’ is using uninterrupted concentration to get things done. Most of us have lost the ability to go deep—spending our days in a frantic blur of email and social media, which makes you feel drained. Cal describes social media as “a slot machine in your phone”. It’s addictive and damages your capacity for concentration, which means “you’ll become less relevant to this economy”.

He’s never had a social media account and says he’s happier and more successful in his professional life because he doesn’t use it. “What the market values is the ability to produce things that are rare and valuable. What the market dismisses are things that are easy to replicate and produce a small amount of value.”

Here’s Cal on digital minimalism (Eat Sleep Work Repeat) and Why you should quit social media (TEDx).

So, here’s my first challenge for September: quit social media for two weeks and see how I feel. Will I be more productive when I’m not fragmenting my attention?

“What I’ve found from people I know who have gone through this process is that there can be a few weeks that are difficult. It actually is like a true detox process. The first two weeks can be uncomfortable when you feel a little bit anxious, you feel like you’re missing a limb. But after that, things settle down and life after social media can be quite positive.”

Be interesting to see if I get any phone calls about jobs when I don’t respond to those last-minute enquiries on LinkedIn ;-)

See if I can persuade my daughter to give it a go!

What are you doing differently in September?


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