Upon purchasing a new iPhone a few weeks ago, I noticed a brilliant addition to the lock screen (Apple never fails to give me what I never knew I always wanted): a camera icon – just press the home button twice. For some, this minute software upgrade may seem insignificant, but for me it was a big deal. Gone were the days of missed photo opps as I searched through a sea of icons to find my camera.
You see, I love taking candid photos (particularly with my iPhone)—graffiti on a mailbox in Brooklyn, a man praying to Mecca behind a hot dog stand in Times Square, a sunset over the pier—and moments can pass just as quickly as they come with no regard for my iPhone to load to capture them. And just as photo opps pass so do many other creative inspirational moments if one is not open to see them…
As we walk through life visiting our comfortable spaces, running our usual errands, and then making new additions to our list of mundane rituals oftentimes we begin to inhabit a small world void of connection, aesthetic stimulation, or worst of all creative inspiration. I’m here to let you in on a small secret that Walt Disney shared with me long ago: every day we are surrounded by creative inspirations waiting for us to notice them—although I’m sure Mr. Disney would have referred to this as “magic.” I choose to capture this “magic” by taking photos, but there are a number of ways to keep sight of that “magic” and not get stuck in our own daily routines. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Take a different route. Once a week commit to changing one thing in your morning routine: instead of taking the subway walk part of the way, pick-up your coffee from a local café instead of the Starbucks you always go to, or maybe start your morning off with cartoons instead of the news. Shaking up routines will refresh your mind and replenish what I like to refer to as your “visual imagery bank”: mental images that you can draw on for inspiration in the future.
- Another YouTube video? Everyone has that one friend who loves to clutter their inbox with the latest viral YouTube video or Funny or Die skit. Instead of sending it straight to the trash, allow yourself 10-15 minutes every day to take a look at “what’s hot” on YouTube, Vimeo, or Reddit. Make a “playlist” of videos that inspire you the most such as innovative music videos, funny ads, or even competitor campaigns.
- Just take a seat. While it may seem that there are never enough hours in the day, sometimes it’s good to just take a moment and breathe. While you are breathing, with your iPhone buds out of your ears and your kindle put away, take a look around. Good breathing spots include parks, tourist locations, or even the subway. The art of “people watching” is a worthy creative venture, and should not be forgotten. You would be surprised at what you can find if you just take a moment to relax.
- Wake ‘n’ Write: Creativity guru Julia Cameron swears by free writing (no self-censoring) until you fill three pages. Get intrusive worries out and productive ideas flowing.*
- Don’t Compete, Collaborate: Team up with a coworker who has complementary skills: If you’re a detail-oriented person, find a big-picture partner, or vice versa.*
Just plug in a few of these into your routine this week and get that creative pep in your step!
*Tips from Carlin Flora of Psychology Today, Everyday Creativity