I don’t know about you, but I find after I finish a big deadline, it can be hard to get motivated again. There is so much stress and adrenaline whilst you are in the midst of it, and then afterward your brain as well as your body just want to totally chill out. If you are a regular subscriber to The Midnight Lunch, you might have noticed there has been a longer gap between posts than usual. You might have thought this related to my being buy at work, and in some ways this is right – but it was actually during July and August that we had a large number of deadlines. Whilst we were right in the midst of all the deadlines, it was important to me to keep up with my regular posting schedule of every two to three weeks – committing in my own mind to keeping my work / blog balance. However, once the rush was over, clearly my overall work / life balance was out of whack and I really struggled to sit down to write.
One of the things I really noticed during this particularly busy period (did I mention 9,000m2 of quality fitout had to be designed and built in under 6 months! insane!), is that even while I am working hard in the middle of all this stress – my brain isn’t necessarily performing at its best. I am not referring to the mistakes we all start to make when we are tired and stressed, but that I realised I wasn’t thinking about anything other than the particular issues and tasks that had to be done. While this is necessary at the time to get the work done, too long a period of this, and it becomes a very stale and narrow minded way to think -not particularly productive for a designer, or indeed any form of creativity, problem solving or innovation.
A large part of the reason I got to thinking about this was because I was finding it hard to get out of my day to day project thoughts to write a blog post – but then I reaslised that its the same kind of thinking which I need when for a lot of design – and even detailing work. Its hard to solve problems or get ideas in a vacuum, and essentially this is what can start to happen to us when we get to busy with the day to day of deadlines for too long. If we stop doing all the things that take us out of our day to day work routine and make us think more about our work and our industry, we can be working and producing, but not really mentally participating. Not going to industry events, not reading blogs or new books, not flicking through a magazine or browsing through some images for pinterest, not meeting sales reps to look at new products or not taking the time to have coffee or a drink with a colleague – for me anyway these are some of the things that feed both my ideas for this blog and for my work as an interior designer. Without all these inputs it easy for our brains to get stale.
We don’t just get inspired by work related things either. For many of us our holidays and travel are what feeds our imaginations and keeps us working to pay for the next trip. We all have other smaller day to day things in our lives too that keep us engaged and motivated, even if they don’t even seem to relate to architecture or design (or whatever it is that you do).
For me this is yoga and meditation. Some of my best ideas (noteably including the idea behind starting this blog!) come to me during my regular yoga practice. I took up yoga about 3 years ago to help recover from injury and also de stress, and over time I found it to be much more than this. But again, when work is busy, this is something that suffers. Even if I still get to the same number of classes, when I am stressed I find not only is my mind busy but my body is super stiff from so many hours sitting at the computer, so its harder to get beyond the physical and into a more inspired place in my head.
Its made me value the work I do on this blog even more, even though the last couple of weeks I have been neglecting it. Its good to be getting back into the swing of my more regular activities and not just focussing on the push for deadlines. This last 2 weeks I’ve spent some time on all my usual social media sites, browsing inspiration of office snapshots, attending a number of green building events and workshops and putting together a fresh conceptual scheme for my current project. I”m starting to feel inspired again. Just sitting down to think about writing now feels like a good kind of intellectual discipline. When I started writing this post today I was planning to write a post about delegating – its kinda morphed a little bit away from that topic, so perhaps I have a few more ideas stashed away in my head that I realised! Not that I will have so much time to post over the next 2 weeks, today I’m attending the Retrofit and Refurb Conference in Sydney and next week BIM Day Out in Perth, so I might see you there – refreshing and inspiring your brain.
PS. For further inspiration Come Out to the (Midnight) Lunch – If you are in Sydney on Thursday 16 October, I am organising another opportunity for followers of this blog to meet and network. The first event in April was attended by a very mixed small group including architects, project managers, engineers and BIM enthusiasts who all meet new people and enjoyed the night. If you are interested in having a drink, meeting new people and talking with fellow The Midnight Lunch followers about workplace, interior design, architecture, BIM or collaboration in our industry – come to Chicane Bar at 10-20 Bond St in the city from 5.30pm. Note the event is not sponsered, buy your own drinks and food. RSVP email@example.com or just turn up on the night.
Ceilidh, I understand your difficulties and if you read my book ‘Interior Design: Theory and Process’ I am sure it would inspire you as well as fill in some educational gaps. My last chapter mentions how we could wear part of an interior and although I may be verging on madness, this is what design is all about. Questioning the status quo. My aim in teaching was to provide my students with the tools ready to do the job, and I do not mean hands-on skills. I mean a theoretical and philosophical stance that would be a constant re-awakening device that responded to whatever project you had. If you are sometimes faced with a brick wall, then your capacity to think deeply and ‘outside the box’ is not functioning as it should. Inspiration comes from a deepseated urge to change and improve our environment, and from what I see around me, that urge should be easy to find. Good luck.
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