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    Category Archives: Finding Balance

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    Allow creativity to fill the vacant spaces in your life

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    by Bronya Wilkins

    In my creativity coaching practice at Creative Cocoon, I’ve found that although most clients come to me for help with larger creativity projects, they often report the most significant positive change from our work integrating creativity into their everyday lives. Integrating creativity into their everyday lives—huh? What does that even mean?

    Many people use the term “everyday creativity” to describe the creative thinking involved in solving everyday problems, such as using a paper clip to poke out the SIM card in your phone. I prefer to use it to refer to integrating creative and artistic thinking and expression into our daily activities, something I call micro-creativity.


    What is micro-creativity?
    In my definition, micro-creativity refers to small, self-contained creative or expressive activities that you perform in your daily life. The main purpose of micro-creativity is to strengthen your creative habits without the anxiety often associated with larger projects. You can also think of it as creativity for creativity’s sake. Here are some examples:

    • Whilst waiting for your son to get out of school, you people-watch and imagine their backstories and personalities.
    • On your morning tram ride, you write short poems to express your current state of mind.
    • During lunch breaks, you wander the streets and take photos of details that catch your eye.


    Benefits of micro-creativity
    You can’t substitute all of your downtime with micro-creativity; your brain would fatigue. But sacrificing just a small chunk of mental “lazy time” each day can, I believe, result in many benefits, including:

    • Increased creative problem solving. Tapping into your creativity at random times strengthens the connection between your logical and creative minds, which helps with problem solving in your work, creative, and personal lives.
    • Increased self-awareness. The more you interact with your creativity, the better you understand and appreciate its existence, warts and all. Building a stronger relationship with your creativity can benefit your creative process and help you develop your sense of self.
    • Increased confidence. The more you practice, the better you become. By improving skills, you gain confidence and a sense of capability in your creative life.
    • Increased wellbeing. Creative self-expression without boundaries, deadlines, or judgment can help you work through personal issues and channel emotions (although self-guided creative therapy is no substitute for professional help).
    • Increased discipline. Practicing daily micro-creativity gets you into the habit of regular creative expression, which can help reduce anxiety (and procrastination) around your larger creative projects.
    • Increased observation skills. Micro-creativity can help improve your observational skills, which are key for creative thinking and expression.


    When and how to micro-create
    You can micro-create whenever you have mental downtime, which means whenever your full attention is not focused on another task. Some examples include:

    • Waiting in queues
    • Riding public transport or as a passenger in a car
    • Walking
    • Taking lunch breaks
    • Swimming laps or running on a treadmill
    • Cleaning
    • Showering or bathing
    • Waiting on hold on the phone
    • Resting

    Micro-creativity activities are limited only by your imagination. Some examples are listed below, but be creative and make up some of your own.

    • Take photos of interesting details.
    • Write a poem.
    • Write stream of consciousness.
    • Draw or photograph self portraits over multiple days.
    • Watch people and make up their backstories.
    • Tune into your senses and record what you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch.
    • Play a word game, such as a rhyming game.
    • Doodle mindlessly or draw patterns.
    • Record a voice memo of your observations or thoughts (as if you were a private detective).
    • Imagine life from someone else’s perspective. What are they experiencing in that moment?
    • Write a letter to your future self, then reply as the future self back to your present self.
    • With headphones on, listen to music and imagine what the music would look like if it were a painting.


    Conditions
    In order for your exercises to count as micro-creativity, you need to meet the following conditions:

    • Don’t think, just do. Don’t overthink the activity. Tune into “doing” mode (rather than “thinking” mode) for the duration of the activity.
    • Minimise judgment and pressure. Put your inner critic aside and accept whatever comes out as part of the process. There is no “good” or “bad.” To help, imagine a child has done the exercise. You wouldn’t judge her on the final work; you would simply be proud of her for putting in the effort.
    • Choose your content. Work with content unrelated to your current projects to reduce the risk of anxiety. After a while, you’ll be surprised how often random creative exercises turn into something bigger or link back to a larger project.
    • Keep it quick and dirty. Limit your exercises to between five and fifteen minutes. Any longer and your inner critic will step in. If it helps, set a timer. Remember, it’s the process that counts, not the result.
    • Commit. Commit to at least one activity a day, even when you don’t feel like it. Routine and persistence bring the longer-term creative benefits. Think of it like brushing your teeth. If it helps, decide on a regular time and set a phone alert or calendar entry.
    • Minimise distractions. Try to minimise distractions whenever possible.
    • Enjoy yourself. The more you enjoy an activity, the more likely you are to continue doing it. Choose exercises that are meaningful, fun, and enjoyable.
    • Change it up. Be creative and choose different activities from day to day. The examples above are just the tip of the iceberg.


    Additional resources
    If you'd like to read more about integrating creativity into your everyday life, I recommend the following books:

    • Just Do Something, by Mykel Dixon
    • The Creative Habit, by Twyla Tharp
    • How to Be an Explorer of the World, by Kerri Smith
    • The Creativity Challenge, by Tanner Christensen
    • Flow, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

     

    Bronya Wilkins is a creativity coach and founder of Creative Cocoon, a coaching practice dedicated to helping people connect with their creativity to increase wellbeing and life fulfilment. Bronya is passionate about psychology, self-development, and creative expression. Some of her creative hobbies include dance, graphic design, music composition, and photography. For more about Bronya and Creative Cocoon, visit her website and Facebook page, or follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

    Tags: creativity, tips
    Posted by: Julie Mazur Tribe
    Categories: Advice and Tips, Finding Balance | Comments Off on Allow creativity to fill the vacant spaces in your life
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    Podcasts for creatives

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    We love podcasts here at Creative Women's Circle. The combination of narrative storytelling + in-your-ear intimacy + inspiring interviews makes podcasts the perfect medium for busy creative ladies. Stick your earbuds in and get a dose of creative inspiration while you are working, wandering or waiting.

    Here are some of our faves...

    Design Matters

    Running since 2005, Design Matters is (probably) the world's first design podcast. Host Debbie Millman interviews designers, creators and big thinkers from Alain de Botton through to Lisa Congdon.

    Must listen episodes: Amanda Palmer, Oliver Jeffers, and Chip Kidd

    After the Jump

    Hosted by Grace Bonney from design blog behemoth Design*Sponge, Grace and her guests give nitty gritty business advice on branding, the real cost of business and how to make the most of social media. They also dive into the inspirational and emotional side of creativity and business with talks on work/life balance, productivity, finding your voice and living the life you want.

    Must listen episodes: Sex and the City designer Lydia Marks, The Hidden Costs of Independent Design, and 10 Habits of Healthy and Happy Business Owners

    The Jealous Curator's Art for Your Ear

    Behind-the-scenes info and news about talented contemporary artists. Host Danielle says 'You'll hear first-hand from these talented, successful, full-time artists (who also happen to be regular people with hilarious stories) BEFORE they’re in the Art History books.'

    Must listen episodes: Lisa Golightly, Terrence Payne, and Erin M Riley

    The Lively Show

    The Lively show is a weekly podcast designed to uplift, inspire, and add a little extra intention to your everyday. Episodes touch on various aspects of our lives including possessions, personal habits, relationships, and career. Entrepreneurship and online business also appear from time to time.

    Must listen episodes: My Top 10 Lessons From My “Lively Adventure”Fulfilling Your Soul in a different, creative way & Impostor Syndrome with Jasmine Star, and How to take big + small steps towards a zero waste lifestyle with Bea Johnson

    The Moth

    Not about creativity per se, The Moth is a collection of recordings from live storytelling events around the world. It has been around for years and is full of hilarious, poignant and surprising observations.

    Must listen episodes: The Lollipop BoyHitchhiking, Mosh Pit, and Iggy Pop, and To Bid or Not to Bid

    Conversations

    Incredible conversations with Australia's best interviewer Richard Fidler, these podcasts cover everything from history to science, celebrities to ordinary people. Conversations is released four days a week and features people from all walks of life.

    Must listen episodes: Jon Ronson: public shaming in the digital ageJames Earl Jones beat a childhood stutter to build a career on his voice, and Helen Razer champions rational thinking

    The New Normal

    Okay, so obviously we are biased as The New Normal is hosted by myself and CWC President Tess McCabe, but we chat to many excellent mothers about all things creativity, business and parenting. There's something there for both parent and non-parents alike!

    Must listen episodes: CWC members Martina Gemmola, Annette Wagner and Julia May


    Posted by: Emma Clark
    Categories: Advice and Tips, Finding Balance, Interviews with Creative Women | Comments Off on Podcasts for creatives
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    How to succeed as a multi-passionate creative

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    By Bec Mackey

    Do you find yourself pulled in different directions by your work and your creative projects? Are you easily distracted by a new idea or flash of inspiration, only to abandon it again shortly afterwards? Or maybe you’re trying to juggle working and paying the bills with a creative side project, and finding it hard to manage both at the same time. You may beat yourself up for being fickle, unable to commit, or to make a clear decision. But despite what we’re told by society, not everyone is built to have just one linear career path, and being easily distracted isn’t necessarily a bad sign. If any of the above resonates with you, it may just be that you are multi-passionate.

    Being multi-passionate is a gift, so embrace it! There are many people out there who would kill to have your energy, curiosity and ability to see inspiration everywhere. Multi-passionate people can draw connections where others see nothing, and this is a highly valuable skill, particularly if you work in a creative industry – or would like to.

    However, having so many interests and ideas can feel like a burden at times, and indecision about which path to take and what to focus on can contribute to a lack of confidence. It may seem like all external messages are telling you to commit and let go of all of your competing ideas – to settle down and choose your niche. If you don’t have just one job, title or simple elevator pitch to sum up what you do, its easy to feel isolated.

    Multi-passionate people are almost always highly sensitive and very creative. This sensitivity, although an incredibly valuable trait for artists, communicators and business owners, means you probably pick up on a lot things, both negative and positive, that others don’t. If others have judged you for being changeable, or all your friends and family have solid careers and can’t understand your various interests, you may have taken this to heart and let it stop you from embracing your multi-passionate nature. This can lead to confusion, lack of motivation, and sometimes paralysis about which path to take next.

    Here are some tips to help you move forward and thrive as a multi-passionate creative:

    • Let go of the need to define yourself by one job title or career path. It may seem that this is a cultural expectation, and that many people you know define themselves by their job title. But if you’re multi-passionate, it won’t help to try and fit yourself into just one defined category. Be true to yourself – own your diverse skill set and know that there is a place for you too.
    • Find a tribe of like-minded multi-passionates. Look out for other people who value curiosity and exploration in their career, and are interested in many different areas. It can stimulate your energy levels to be surrounded by others who get excited about new ideas and have a range of projects on the go. And when things get challenging, you’ll have friends and colleagues around that understand where you’re coming from and can support you without judging your hybrid career. You might even discover someone wonderful to partner up with – multi-passionates are great collaborators!
    • Read about the profound things multi-passionate people (sometimes referred to as polymaths) have done through the ages. Having a defined, specific ‘thing’ to do for work is a relatively modern phenomenon. Even in more recent times, the revolutionary multi-passionates are there if you look for them. Maya Angelou is a fantastic example of a polymath who defied categorisation in her work. She may be most famous for her poetry, but she was also an accomplished dancer, journalist, editor, teacher and activist (who worked for Martin Luther King, no less!).
    • Define your overall ‘why’ and then you will have a long term vision that will help with direction and focus. Watch Simon Sinek’s famous TED Talk ‘Start With Why’ and complete a simple ‘why’ exercise for yourself. Focus on what motivates you in life generally, rather than worrying about defining your why for multiple projects or business ideas. Discovering what motivates you and what is important to you will provide you with a compass of sorts, and help you understand yourself better.
    • Resist the urge to do everything at once. Get good at time management or find help from a coach or course to enhance your skills in that area. You’ll feel better once you are taking small steps, even if its simultaneously in a couple of directions.
    • Don’t give in to the paralysis that can come with having too many ideas. Choose one of your most dominant ideas– one that hasn’t gone away for a long time, or one of the most viable, and run with it. The upside to this is once you start to see progress, your confidence will increase and you can get out there and impact the world as only a vibrant, multi-passionate person can!

    Bec Mackey is a writer, teacher and producer of screen-related things. She uses a decade of experience in the business sides of media and arts to help creative people fund and promote their work in ways that work for them. Bec writes about funding, promotion, creative careers and life on her website, Brightside Creatives.


    Posted by: Emma Clark
    Categories: Advice and Tips, Finding Balance, Growing a Business, Starting a Business | Comments Off on How to succeed as a multi-passionate creative
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    How to chuck a sickie when you’re self employed

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    By Jes Egan

    Taking a sickie when you are running your own small business can be a very hard thing to do, with too much to do and no-one other than yourself or a few employees to pick up the slack. Sometimes it’s harder to accept illness and take a day to recover than it is to just keep on going and to put your health on the back burner.

    When you are running a small creative business you are often doing a bit of everything, if not everything and having a day off sick can mean that things don’t get done on time or get done at all and this can lead to a loss of income, unhappy clients, delays etc. But sometimes an illness or bug will just stop you in your tracks.

    Don’t feel guilty about taking a day to look after yourself, to be able to continue your business running you need to be fighting fit. And to do this sometimes it means you have to spend a day or two in bed, doing nothing, other than resting and recovering.

    Here are a few of my tips on how to manage such days when they come around:

    Write a list

    Write down all the things you were planning on getting done that day, the little things plus the big things. Put it all down on paper or online so that it is out of your head.

    Prioritise

    Look at that list and prioritise it: is there anything that absolutely has to be done this day? If so, is it something that can be done from your bed or couch? Move all other non-vital tasks to the next day or later that week.

    Delegate

    If you have the option to delegate anything from that list then do so. Getting help where you can is really important to reduce your workload on these sick days. If you need to deliver, pick up, place an order etc then ask a friend or relative if they could help you out with that task.

    Do it early

    If you have to do something that can’t wait and that no-one can help you with, then do it early in the day so you can rest and not worry for the rest of the day. Get it over and done with so it isn’t weighing on your mind.

    Manage expectations

    If there is a knock-on delay for delivery from you taking a day or so, send a few emails and let people know that this is coming. Manage their expectations so when you are back you have less work to tidy up. It will also stop people chasing you up and hopefully stop any anxiety you may have about the delay. If you are a heavy email user, put your out of office message on, if it is an option. Once you have done what you need, turn your emails or phone off and try to rest fully without distraction.

    Don’t feel guilty

    Taking time out to look after yourself can be easier said than done - try not to feel guilty or worry about it. Stress doesn’t encourage recovery!

    Taking time out and not continuing on is sometimes not an option, but either is looking after yourself. So where you can reduce the workload when you’re sick and take a day to focus on you, because without you there is no creative business.

    Jes is a ‘practical creative’ and a very busy lady, doing the business in a digital agency, being an artist and an university lecturer. Follow Jes on Instagram.  

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    Posted by: Emma Clark
    Categories: Advice and Tips, Finding Balance, Growing a Business, Starting a Business | Comments Off on How to chuck a sickie when you’re self employed