Too often, we get caught up into our daily life, and we don’t realize it fills all the space in our minds :
we are always in a hurry in the morning, getting the kids ready, running after our train, not even taking time to eat breakfast, then we are busy answering emails, calls all day long, try to socialize with our colleagues, taking every minutes of our break to check Instagram or Facebook, get back home, remember to do the laundry, eventually cook something, crash from exhaustion in front of Netflix, and start again the next day. Until we die?
I can find 1000 problems inherent with this crazy modern lifestyle but the one I want to focus here is headspace : Our brains are overstimulated. Thousands of years of evolution brought us here, but the modern life constantly chasing productivity is only a few decades old, and the domination of screens and social medias and notifications are even newer. The truth is we are not designed to process such a big amount of informations. We all know the consequences of the lifestyle : burn out, depression, anxiety, or just constant exhaustion, which became so normal you are not even paying attention to it anymore.
I think one of the problems is also that we are not allowing ourselves to be creative anymore.
Creativity does not have to be having a crazy weird concept for a photoshoot : Creativity is the ability to come up with fresh ideas, and to connect informations together to get something new. It is about coming with a solution when a problem arise, it is about taking the time to imagine what you want for your future, or what awesome cake you are going to bake during the week end, it can be about anything! I deeply believe anyone has the the ability to be creative, it is not a superpower, but not anyone is actually leaving enough space in their lives to be creative.
Why do people have more ideas in the shower? Because they have no distraction, it’s an great moment, no screen, no phone, just you, being relaxed, enjoying a moment. (Fun useless fact : I never have had any ideas in my shower :D )
Creativity needs some space to exist, fresh ideas can’t come up if your brain is constantly thinking about your groceries or if you are pissed of by your boss (even if he deserves it!). So here are a few techniques on how to make headspace in your brain to let ideas arise (tested and approved my myself with love!)
Not everything is wrong with our modern life, and the apps are amazing tools that allows us to be more organized and to have some more space in our brains. I just don’t understand people who says they will « remember » this appointment we just made! I mean come on, just write it somewhere, so you don’t have to think about it anymore! Personally, everything that implies me being somewhere or doing something at an exact date goes into my Google calendar. Every ideas I have on the go goes to my Evernote (for example reflexion for this blog, and I am writing this article on Evernote right now). Every ideas for photographs are in notebooks. My groceries lists are on post it (the old school way!). Trello is helping me keeping track of what I have to do for this blog. And I even have a cool app which tells me when I am going to be on my period! (it helps me know right away if the reason that I feel like crap is my hormones having a party! Super useful girls, check it out) NOTHING stays stuck in my brain! All these tools are like assistants taking care of the details of my life so I can focus on my main goal : be present to my life, my friend, and create awesome photographs and content here with LOVE!
Fun fact : I heard Steve jobs was always wearing the same simple outfit so he didn’t have to think about what he was wearing every morning, so he had more headspace to do something else. He is clearly not remembered for being a fashion icon, but this guys had ideas for sure!
Allow yourself to be bored
Ideas need space to grow, and if you are constantly distracting yourself, no doubt it’s hard for you to get new ones. Everyone is constantly checking his phone, we are not allowing ourselves 5 minutes of just doing nothing, and this Candy Crush thing is not going to help you solve your problems!
Fun fact : some scientist did a cool experiment, people had to wait in an empty room with no more informations that that. They knew they were here for a test, so they were just told they had to wait to get called to start the experiment. All this time the experiment of course started without them knowing it and they were filmed. In the waiting room there was just a box with a button beside them. This specific box was in fact designed to give them a small electric shock each time they pressed it. EVERY one of them touched the button repeatedly even though they get hurt the first time they did : people prefer to feel pain that being bored, this is how much our human brain can’t handle boredom.
I am not a professional of meditation myself : I find this highly intimidating to sit and do nothing even for 5 minutes. Though I try to be more mindful in my everyday life, to step away from my emotions, and to be more present for example when I am walking in the street. I concentrate on the details of the world around me, instead of thinking about 594 stuff. I can see the difference it makes right away on my mood and balance, and I can’t stress enough the power of meditating. You can try it out with and app, there are great : Petit Bamboo in french is the most famous, while Headspace or Buddhify are great for english speakers.
Find a stimulating environment
When I was a student, I spent all summer working in a bank. And I though I would die. Nothing ever ever would stimulate my brain : I was surrounded by people with no passion, no dreams, everything was grey and sad, this was the worst environment ever, stuck in an office behind a computer doing repetitive tasks with almost no human contact. I can’t think of anything worst, and the truth is it represents most of today’s office job. This is terrifying to me. Later on I was working in an advertising agency and they would put us in a closed meeting room between 2 and 3 pm and expected us to have awesome ideas for a new campaign. No windows, no nothing. No need to tell you it did not work. Nowadays I am going in a trendy coworking space, I chat with inspiring people during my break, they are building their projects on their own, we always share ideas. Sometimes what I though was a 10 minutes wasting my time chatting brought me the solution to the problem I was stuck in for 2 hours. Be careful of who you are surrounding yourself with and where, because it does impact the way you apprehend your world.
Go on holidays
I don’t know about you guys but when I am travelling and I take a real break, I am happy to rest the first week and eventually after 10 days maximum, I start to get bored of not creating new stuff so I start to get all crazy excited with new ideas again. I usually get enough distance from my daily life to identify the problems, the things I don’t want to do anymore, the things I want to do more, and I always come back home with a plan to start fresh. I am deeply convinced that holidays make me so much productive and help me define my vision.
Try a creative retreat
A creative retreat allows you to leave your your environment for a while, it can be in your country or anywhere in the world, in the place of your choice. It is not exactly holidays, because you are not chilling or visiting, but all your mental space is dedicated to created something into the perfect conditions. It gets easier to break through your blocks and mental barriers you usually have during your daily life. No one is interrupting you, you can decide to be surrounded by other creative people, it challenges your habits and your vision of the world. For me that’s is just THE ABSOLUTE BEST to achieve big ass projects.
This is really common with musicians, a lot of bands go rent a house or a studio somewhere, and spend their time doing music everyday and night, whenever they feel like it. I remember photographing the Half Moon run (awesome chill guys!) and they were talking about the process of creating their new album : they rented a house in Canada by the beach, lived altogether for a while, away from the « real » world, went surfing every morning, and spent the rest of the day writing songs. Creating a « bubble » is the best for big project, like writing a book or building a business because it helps you focus and gives you so much headspace to create your new masterpiece.
I personally built my portrait studio while being stuck in a farm in the middle of Australia, and I am currently writing this article in Bali where I retreated for a month! And these are probably the two times I was BY FAR the most productive in my whole life! One of my dream here is to organize creative retreats so keep in touch if that speaks to your soul!
So here is this new topic, I am really passionate about the subject and just couldn’t figure a way to write less! Tell me what do you think about this idea? Are you caught up into you daily life? How big is that problem for you? What are your techniques to get more headspace?
Lots of love as usual <3
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.”- Buddha