Essential Rituals — for the daily creative
written by Marize — She is Visual
Being a creative freelancer I am often curious to know how other creatives go about their daily schedule and tasks in order to be productive, creative and achieve the longed after work—life balance most of us are seeking.
After reading a few insights into some of my favourite creatives' daily routine I have felt equal amounts of inspiration and deflation at times, thinking : “This sounds pretty ideal, but how on earth do they keep that up?”
Therefore, I first and foremost would like to say that the guidelines below are by no means attained perfectly by myself every day. It is simply a 'checklist' that I have put in place for myself as I have grown my business and evolved as a designer and person. I have found that with every challenge comes the opportunity to learn from it and establish a new checkpoint for the return of similar challenges in the future.
The following are things that I see as essentials, or non-negotiables for my day to day as a creative. Being healthy in our vocation is about so much more than the type of breakfast we choose to start our day with — we need a holistic approach to our wellbeing in order to flourish in our daily purpose.
I say movement because exercise may be read as ‘visit the gym and earn 300 vitality points’.
For me moving daily ( except for when I am not feeling well / just started my flow and my energy is very low / just had a day that kicked me down and I really struggle to tie my laces ) - is a non-negotiable. We all know exercise is vital for wellbeing, but not only that, it is also a great way of surrendering unconscious stress, getting in touch with what is going on with our bodies, breathing in fresh air outside or simply a way to ‘switch off’ from whatever is going on in our world at the time. For me personally, moving in the morning makes a major difference to how the rest of my day flows, therefore I prefer to exercise in the morning.
Being an introvert ( that is, being someone who draws energy from spending time alone ) — I simply can not imagine a day without a few minutes in silence. Whether it is lying on my bed and staring at the ceiling, meditating or simply getting my 10 minutes outside in the sun with eyes closed — quiet time is extremely essential for me. Everyone has their own way of solitude and once you have figured out what works best for you - make sure to make it part of your day. My husband knows my symptoms of running low on quiet time — we call it ‘my tenkie is leeg'. When my tank is empty, I don’t feel anything at all — never mind being creative — and I know I have to ‘fill it up’ in order to keep moving through my day.
NOURISH TO FLOURISH
A wholesome breakfast is absolutely non-negotiable for me. I wasted way too many days of my life skipping breakfast, that I now make up for it by making my first meal of the day packed with all the goodness. I literally cannot function if I haven’t had breakfast. In the past, when I was still drinking coffee, I could easily have a coffee and get going, but caffeine isn't fuel — to be honest, I think there are way too many people that use coffee to mute their appetite as a means of hiding from deeper rooted food issues - I have been there. My favourite grain for breakfast at the moment is millet. I cook it in water and just add some honey and cinnamon for a touch of sweetness to its already nutty taste. When I am on the go, I make a plant-protein smoothie with Wazoogles. I often combine my breaks with my meals / snacks after breakfast - that way I can be conscious about eating and giving my body what it needs to keep going for the rest of the day.
Sometimes we have a smooth daily routine and then suddenly something totally unexpected and out of our control happens and this upsets our groove. I like to call that ‘life happens’. So that being said, you know sometimes when we have figured out how we would like our ideal day to look like and then ‘life happens’ and we have to keep an open mind and be flexible, ( not my strongest suit, but I am learning ). As a little bit of a control freak / idealist I often find myself frustrated and stuck when 'life happens' and things aren't going according to my plan for that day / project / task. Over time I have realised that I spend so much time being upset, that I waste time that I could rather channel towards 'recalculating' and finding a solution. Sometimes I also have to be able to throw my hands in the air and say 'there is actually nothing I can do about this right now' and I have to step away and tackle it afresh in the new day. This is a really difficult skill for me to master, but I believe it can help us tremendously to stress less and to find solutions quicker with a clear mind.
SHARPENING MY CREATIVE PENCIL
As a creative, I need to stimulate myself creatively in order to keep my 'pencil' sharp. I often forget to make this a priority and then I find myself starting to run low on creativity. By stimulation I don't mean mindlessly scrolling through Pinterest ( although Pinterest can also be a source of inspiration ), but rather to do things that we know refreshes our creative minds. I highly recommend that this happens in an offline / disconnected way like drawing or attending a creative workshop or visiting an art gallery. Step back, open your mind to new things and allow your mind to press creative reset.
DOING ONE THING AT A TIME
Multi-tasking has never been an option for me - however, in today's society and with instant access to so many things, I find myself multitasking unconsciously. I call it having too many tabs open in my brain at once. I have learned time and time again that I am much more productive and efficient when tackling one task at a time. A simple place I started was to create a window of time to answer my emails in, then close your mailbox and tackle your to-do list one task at a time. I know there are multi-tasking ninjas out there that will laugh at this advice and say that they get much more done when multitasking — and that's probably true when you look at a short period of time. However for me this is not just to work more thoroughly with focus, but also a way of looking after my brain in the long term. I promise you, your brain will thank you with its sharpness in the years to come.
SETTING BOUNDARIES AND SAYING NO
This is the hardest task, with the most satisfying results. This year I started taking this advice to heart and I often find myself thinking : 'I am so glad I had the courage to say no to that person / project.' With a few people pleasing bones inside of me, I used to find it really difficult to say no. 'No' in my mind was associated with disappointing people or not being 'enough' to say yes.
Then I discovered the power of setting boundaries and how impactful this is in all areas of my life. Now instead, I associate 'no' with having respect for oneself and others by being true to yourself and your capacity. If we always say yes to everything, it is often at the expense of our own well being - and once we are not well, we don’t mean anything to anyone. Taking care of ourselves by setting boundaries, sets the stage for us to care for others I believe. “ Say no out of strength, instead of yes out of weakness”.
CREATING MY OWN OFFICE HOURS
Working from home and at my own pace means I can set the rules. I see this as a massive privilege as well as a major responsibility. In the past I have really battled with setting work hours for myself and creating a space where I work and can then walk away when the day is over.
Now I have my own ‘office hours’ that I stick to and when the day is over, I close the door to my studio and choose to ‘walk away from the day.’ This is extremely important for me in order to switch off and be present with myself and my husband outside of my work day.
The most important part about creating guidelines in my workspace was when I realised that I have the freedom to tailor my days according to my needs, my specific work, my circumstances, my family and my personality. There is no formula that will work for everyone - we all have to figure it out for ourselves. The above is outlining good quality ‘ingredients’ that I have found essential and crucial in order to be the best version of myself in my workplace. There is always room for improvements and discovering new ‘ingredients’ - just remember to always keep an open mind with your day’s recipe — for those beautiful moments when ‘life happens’.
Marize is the heart and hands behind her creative studio She is Visual. Apart from being a designer and stylist, she is passionate about women and their wellbeing as a pathway to living their God ordained purpose in fullness. Together with Caitlin Smit, Marize 'founded' Glow and this is where they take hands in their shared passion for women's wellness.