Are you burnt out? Are you feeling creatively stuck? Do you feel like something is missing from your workflow?
I have listened to business owners and life coaches teach about batching, maximizing time, productivity, and etcetera…
And I get it! A lot of us creatives are 1 person teams. When you are running your own business, you need to streamline your work or you’ll never get everything done. And as a fellow creative business owner, I know that when things don’t get done, we don’t get paid.
But hear me out - we are not machines. We cannot work at full force and full efficiency all the time. I mean, you probably left your 9-5 because you hated following a strict schedule and to do list, and here you are, imposing it on yourself now.
I’m not saying never make a list, never meet a deadline, never finish a product. Of course you should do those things.
I’m saying that you, as a creative, need to make room in your life for a more natural work flow. Make room for a little freedom, a little wild, a little mess, a little fun.
What does nature teach us about creative work flow?
People tend to think that "wild" means "out of control" or "reckless." However, wildlife is far from either of those things. Let's talk about what we can really learn from the wild.
1. Follow your instincts.
First, let’s look at wolves.
They are wild animals who depend on hunting for survival.
But when you study their behavior, they aren’t constantly hunting. They are simply allowing their instincts to lead the way.
They don’t assign tasks to days - they do it when the timing is right, when their instincts lead. When they’re hungry, they hunt. When they aren’t hungry, they don’t. Actually, they’re usually napping, investigating, or playing. And it might not seem productive, but the rest is essential for the tough hunts, the investigating is important to know the landscape, and the play is how wolves learn everything from social rules to hunting skills.
As creatives - and as humans - we might find that even though we planned on doing one task today, we may wake up and find ourselves inspired to do a different task entirely. And that’s ok.
Our brains are constantly creating new connections and coming up with new ideas.
If I were to ALWAYS put those new ideas off until it was the “assigned day” to work on them- well frankly, I’d be fucked.
For example, I was working on a video edit for Youtube the other day when an idea for a blog post came to mind. I froze. What do I do? Do I keep editing or do I switch to write the post?
I know research shows that multi-tasking is much less efficient. But does it account for all the ideas that would be lost to the abyss if I set them aside?
So, I paused my editing, opened up a document, and started writing. I didn’t make myself finish the post, but I did let myself write down every thought I had. Once I felt that I had reached the end of my thoughts on that idea, I saved and closed the document, and went back to editing.
Maybe I did lose some time by allowing myself to switch between tasks. But I also saved an idea that I may have forgotten, an idea that may bring me revenue.
2. Go with the flow
Second, let’s talk about cycles.
A cycle is a series of events that need to occur to complete a process.
Think back to elementary school science. Remember the water cycle? You know, water from lakes and rivers evaporates and then they gather in the sky to form clouds, which eventually rain? And as that process occurs, lifeforms along the way use the water to sustain themselves.
If that cycle were to stay stuck in just one stage, ecosystems would collapse. Too much evaporation? The land would dry up. Too much condensation? The world would flood.
If we stay stuck in one stage or one form of our creative process, our creativity may begin to feel dry and lifeless. Some examples of this are:
Refusing to take time to rest
Always creating and never consuming
Always consuming and never creating
Obsessing over our to-do list or calendar
3. Discipline and schedules are still important
This is the part about the wild that people often forget.
While nature gives a lot of room for freedom, it is not reckless and not irresponsible.
It is still subjected to certain laws and needs.
So instead of giving yourself whiplash by switching from overworking to complete freedom, ease into it.
Wolves will let themselves be interrupted from play or napping if there's a threat or a good chance for food. The water cycle happens when the right conditions come together. Schedules are not the opposite of freedom. It's how they work together that creates the wild.
How do I rewild my creative process?
Even after just a few examples from nature, I’m sure the importance of cycles and following our instincts makes sense.
It's the next step that is the most difficult.
How do we apply these to our work life? I mean, we are so separate from nature anymore.. What does it look like to rewild our creative process?
Here’s a free document you can download and keep with you to help you rewild your creative process in a way that inspires creativity without diminishing productivity.