Help! I’ve been so unproductive and uninspired!

Hi folks! This is your 4-months-into-quarantine reminder. If you feel unproductive and can’t get a grasp on your creativity… release that held breath.

I’ve talked about mental bandwidth before, but want to hit on it again. Bandwidth, in the traditional sense, is the amount of information that can be sent over a connection at a given time. Think about a bathtub faucet. If it has a wide opening, more water can flow at a faster rate than if the opening is narrower. But the faucet doesn’t change size. It restricts the amount of water flowing through.

In a sense, our brains can be compared to this. There is a limited amount of information we can process before we become overwhelmed. For some people, that can be a lot; for some others, it is less. But regardless, there has to be mental space available for creativity to happen.

Fear takes up a LOT of mental bandwidth. Uncertainty takes up a LOT of mental bandwidth. Things that were previously on autopilot that you now have to think about to do…. that takes up a LOT of mental bandwidth. Remembering new social rules (don’t touch your face, stand six feet away from people, etc…), yeah, that takes up a lot of bandwidth, too.

And all of this is on top of your daily brain usage for work, school, family, etc. When you’re done with the day, your brain is tired.

But creative work can also help you to deal with the things that are taking up so much of your bandwidth. It is so easy to fall into the catch-22 of not having enough energy for creative work and not doing enough creative work to build your energy.

Rule #1: Don’t be too hard on yourself if you find you’re not able to tackle your creativity in typical fashion. Don’t let frustration take over. It is okay and you WILL find your groove again.

Rule #2: Make sure you have a dedicated space just for creative work. Mark it off if you have to. But don’t play on your phone in this space. Don’t do other kinds of work in this space. Right now, I office out of my studio, but I have a corner of the room that I don’t take work into. It is for creative play only.

Rule #3: Make 15 minutes every day to tackle a creative task. Knit a few rows on a project. Squish your stash for ideas. Put a future project together in a bag. If you get invested, keep going. If not, stop at 15 minutes. Making creative tasks a part of your routine helps free up bandwidth and makes it easier to do them.

Also try checking out this video about being productive in lockdown:

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