The thought of being indoors for the foreseeable future is daunting. There is so much going on around us; and for many designers and creative thinkers, it’s sometimes easier to escape into a Netflix documentary than to find inspiration in the madness.
How do we keep our creative juices flowing now that normalcy has come to a grinding halt? Here are four steps I’ve taken to keep my mind feeling sharp, and consequently more at ease, during the COVID-19 quarantine.
Keep looking at the magic other designers are making.
Since being home, I’ve worked inspiration gathering into my weekly routine. It’s a fun, low-effort way to stay excited about my work and keep myself familiarized with some of the best agencies and designers around the world.
UI and UX design is an ever-evolving industry, and websites like Dribbble, Awwwards, SiteInspire and Muzli are always full of the newest and greatest. Taking a browse through just one of these websites is a great way to gather ideas for your own projects, both inside and outside of the (home) office.
Looking for inspiration keeps your mind fresh when you’re looking at your own designs. Give yourself time to gather food for thought.
Take an online course or start a personal project.
Teaching yourself a new skill, or sharpening old ones, can be a rewarding, healthy distraction from what has been a particularly anxiety-inducing time for many of us.
Resources such as Skillshare, Codecademy, and DesignLab offer free and affordable courses in Interactive Design, UX Research & Strategy, and Web Development that you can dive into at your own pace. Many of these classes give you access to guided lessons and other industry professionals who are available to answer questions and give valuable advice for any skill you’re interested in picking up.
Even outside of curriculums and classes, there are tons of other resources available to creatives who want to stay engaged with the industry. Many of the design conferences that were scheduled in the coming months have restructured to be fully digital, and Invision has compiled a list of these events through September.
One of my favorite ways to sharpen my skill set is to revive old projects. As creatives, we’ve all had ideas that weren’t picked by a client or director. Was there a design direction you really believed in that never made it past the round one review? Now is a great time to bring it to life. Build out the design system. Play with interactions. You don’t have anyone looking over your shoulder—this is your time to do exactly what you want.
Focus on a creative outlet that has nothing to do with your job description.
Creativity is multifaceted. Sometimes, staying sharp means closing your laptop and spending time on skills and hobbies that don’t fit into the work day. Finding another means of creation is one of the best ways to keep an open and fresh mind during a stressful time.
This has been especially helpful for me over the past few weeks. Since being home, I’ve taken time to dive into photography— an old hobby I had placed on the back burner amidst the bustle of everyday life. Taking time to focus on an artistic outlet for pleasure has kept me inspired and excited about what I can create. Consequently, I’ve found myself focusing a little more on my craft and a little less on my streaming recommendations.
Give yourself a break.
We live in a society where being busy is highly valued. Because of this, it’s easy to feel a lack of accomplishment, especially now that we’re adjusting to a new normal. And although it’s particularly important for digital creatives to stay ahead of the curve, pushing yourself too hard is almost always more harmful than it is helpful.
We all need to take time to reset. It’s ok if you feel too tired, anxious or sad to work on your personal project today. Be nice to yourself and know that you’re not alone. At the end of the day, the best way to stay sharp is to take care of ourselves. No matter what that looks like.