There’s been much back-and-forth about telecommuting vs. working in a cubicle. One of the arguments often cited by people who work from home is that they’re free of distractions at the office; they are able to focus more and produce faster.
So “they” say.
I know that when I’ve worked from home full time, I’ve experienced creativity block. I think that often has to do with the lack of interaction among co-workers. But there are other ways to be inspired, and they involve stepping away from your home office.
The best inspiration is often free. How much better do you feel when you step outside for a moment and take a deep breath of fresh air? If it’s a beautiful day, you might wonder why we tend to work indoors. Make the effort to get outside every day, even if it’s just for a jaunt around the block. When you can, go for a hike. Take your laptop to a park. Don’t fail to look all around you, soaking in your surroundings. As a graphic designer, you might find color combinations you didn’t think go together. As a photographer, you might come across a subject for a future project. As any creative professional, you’ll likely clear your head of backlogged invoices and badgering clients and instead be left with serenity.
Cafes offer a similar concept to offices: They both feature people bent over their laptops, slurping coffee and typing rapidly. But cafe customers aren’t your co-workers, and they likely aren’t going to interrupt your work. There’s a reason home-office folks don’t always work from home: They crave other humans, even if they don’t chat them up. One can go crazy wandering around the house alone – haven’t you seen “The Shining”? That may be an extreme example, but a change in surroundings can recharge your brain and inspire more than “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” over and over.
Conferences and training
Just because you graduated from college and landed a job doesn’t mean there’s nothing left to learn. New technology is constantly being introduced, and new ideas are developed. Check out local events in your area offering trade shows, conferences and training seminars. Not only could you learn something new, but it’s also an excellent opportunity to network. You can land a new freelance gig, meet someone to interview or find out who has that antique Leica you’ve been tracking down.
photo by: acaben
While I just stated that there’s always something new to learn, you might have valuable information to share as well. Get in touch with your local Chamber of Commerce as well as clubs and organizations and see who regularly has speakers at their meetings. There are lots of small-business gatherings where people network and draw inspiration from each other. Perhaps you have a success story to share or you know some photography tricks. During a Q&A, you can learn from your audience and come up with ideas for your future work.
There’s a reason a big volunteering organization calls itself Do Something. That’s because often, all it takes is one act to make a change. Getting your hands dirty for a good cause can be the source of more inspiration than you’d ever imagine. When you volunteer, you might feel humbled – your own problems all of a sudden seeming minor; or just performing real labor can be invigorating. There are so many options for volunteering, whether it’s sticking to what you know with creative arts or cleaning up local parks and roadsides.
Working from home offers plenty of perks: You can blast heavy metal; you don’t necessarily have to wear pants; and you can keep warm with a dog at your feet. Of course, you can also catch cabin fever and find that you’ve wasted away hours staring at a blank computer screen. As a creative professional, you might not want to take “working from home” quite so literally – rather, make a break for the front door every so often.
If you liked this article, head over to the PS Print Blog and check out part two where Britt gives you 3 Ways to Energize Your Freelance Routine. These are some easy ways to re-energize your freelance routine and get the energy and inspiration flowing.