Creative Workspace: One Size Does Not Fit All, But…

Your office or studio is where you do the brainstorming for your current project or the next one. But, it doesn’t mean you have to stay in there each time you have to work. Having a career in creativity gives you that advantage. Unlike other types of careers, you don’t have to be confined in an area to be productive (or forced to be). You have the whole world as your workspace. Plus, you don’t have to worry about punch in/out clocks. You hit the time when ideas hit you, and there’s absolutely no limit to how long you can keep working, allowing you to strike while the iron is hot.

 

Unfortunately, even when we want to go elsewhere to work on something, the atmosphere does not always agree with our plans. When you have to stay indoors because weather conditions are not auspicious for some creating and innovating, there are ways to counter the unproductivity. Visit and make use of the different quarters in your abode. Below, I have some suggestions for you.

 

For when it’s too cold outside:

 

  • Drink hot chocolate and have your laptop or sketch pad with you, or whatever it is that you need for making drafts. Don’t underestimate what the comfort that a warm cup of anything can do.
  • Listen to the classics. They’re proven to help ease the mind and improve the activity of brain cells, so you stay alert mentally even when the weather is seducing you to take a nap.
  • Stay in the guest room. If you don’t have one, pick any room that you normally wouldn’t hang out in. You can even sit by the staircase or squat on the floor along the hallway. The point in this is to let you learn how you can find comfort in the most unexpected places, to appreciate the relief in spots that you would normally just pass by. Do the imagining there and write your thoughts on a notebook. Trust me, you will be able to use that.
  • Read or watch some drama, suspense or action-packed novels and films, even if you’re not a fan. Why these genres? As I’ve mentioned earlier, the cold can tempt you to be lazy. These types of entertainment are firmly engaging because you need to fully focus on them to understand the story throughout the end. Then after, you can use them as inspiration for your work.

 

For when it’s too hot outside:

 

  • Eat some ice cream (or any frozen treat), still with your creativity tools handy. To help beat the heat while you’re working on a project, incorporate the cool delight you get from what you’re eating into your work. I’ve tried this last summer. In spite of the great discomfort that the humid weather is giving me, I felt like frost fairy. You’ll get highly imaginative. Believe it.
  • Listen to modern songs. Unlike the classics, they will allow your brain to be just a bit passive, but not to the point of drowsiness. You can create a personal playlist of feel-good tunes to keep the vibe seemingly breezy, making it extra fun for you to work. However, if you’re not used to noise when working, you can always just opt for silence or listen to the mere sound of nature.
  • There’s neither storm nor snow, but the sun is too harsh. Sit on the porch or out in the backyard, under a shade of a tree. In the absence of any of these, any outer extension of the house will do. If you have air-conditioning, that works too. But I wouldn’t recommend it for when you’re working, especially when inside your room where it’s likely for you to fall asleep.
  • Read a humorous book. It’s too hot already, you don’t need something that requires you to be over-receptive. Laughter is a remedy for many things, it can also aid creativity relapses. No television this time. It only worsens the present uneasiness brought about by the abnormally warm weather. Also, an informative manuscript is a good alternative.

 

One place can’t really hold all the functions you need for an ideal workspace, but if you use your creativity when the situation calls for it, you will be able to deal with what’s available and continue to be productive. It’s part of your being creative to keep doing what you do, no matter what.

 

Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn’t know it so it goes on flying anyway.” – Mary Kay Ash

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On the Oppressiveness of Time

“Don’t watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going.” – Sam Levenson

Time is a problematic concept. There’s no denying that it exists. What’s problematic is how to make sense of it. It’s an abstract concept that is, at best, measured by the wonderful invention that is the clock – keeping track of seconds, minutes, hours, the very heartbeat of the passage of the time checked by the numbers on the round face.

The thing with time is that it is, so to speak, wild and untameable. In an English class in my university, time as a pervading, ever-present force was an idea explored through a few texts – The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad and Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. I will not get into the details of time and space within the three texts, but I will launch into a brief discussion about how it can be a waste of time to allow oneself to be oppressed by time.

I lifted a quote by Sam Levenson because of how relevant it is with the creative process, and with productivity in general. Clocks are useful, and they hit preciseness and impose order on the abstract, uncontained concept of time. Clocks are there to remind us that the thousands of years that passed was actually just a five-minute eternity before class ends. Clocks are there to remind us that we’re running late. Clocks are there to organize, and every tick constructs a sense of progress, especially if one is keeping track of time while doing something.

I’m positing the idea that clock brings the illusion of progress by giving the passage of time a visual – and, if you’re hearing the clock, aural – treatment, that makes passage – and progress – more real than if one were separated from any time-telling device. I’m aware that this is not true of everything, of course. Unproductivity can be highlighted by the seemingly swift passage of time, but that’s another thing.

A scenario: you’re doing something. It’s ten-thirty in the evening. Type a few things here and there, breathe, drink coffee. Eleven-thirty. Word count is satisfactory, on point within the one hour you allotted for yourself. You’re on time.

Probably.

It can be disruptive to the creative process precisely because the attention is not hefted on the work itself, but on how much work one can accomplish within a specific time frame. And time frames are important, because the world is too fast for anyone to catch a deep breath, and being on schedule means being organized. Clocks, schedules – organization that controls, and can oppress.

I say oppress, because if you let clocks control you, and pressure you, you get less satisfaction out of doing something, and more satisfaction out of doing something within a specific time frame.

Sam Levenson says “keep going.” Keep going, instead of sitting there watching the clock more than you should. Don’t let schedules stop you from working. Organization is neat – absolutely – but if you’re working on something (writing, I don’t know), and it’s a satisfying piece emerging like a flower from the waste land of a writer’s block, don’t stop (unless it’s actually something you prioritize). Don’t think too much about what time it is. Just let go.

With that, this might be a rather sketchy piece of advice. I’m all for being punctual, and if one has important appointments, one should. It’s just that the point I’m trying to drive home is precisely that of Sam Levenson.

(I may have just parroted his words. Oh, the illusion of progress.)

Maybe Useful Links:

A couple of links that direct you to Wikipedia (forgive me for this) pages of the texts mentioned within the post.

Mrs. Dalloway / The Secret Agent

Longer – and hopefully more substantial – posts on creativity and literature will follow in the near future (after I get my life back from all the university classes hounding me).

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