Updated: Jun 24
Women & Design // Behind the scenes
Productivity may mean using the Pomodoro technique while you work, or it could be giving yourself a simple night in with scented candles, a face mask, some wine, and chill. Productivity is what you make it out to be, I believe there's not a singular definition of productivity. In a post-covid sense, productivity has lost its way with 'work-from-home' slowly becoming the new normal. So let's reimagine productivity in a healthier sense, shall we?
A lot of you must have seen these posts floating around social media comforting your panicking sense of productivity, telling you 'it's okay to not be productive all the time'. And I agree. Productivity has different meanings, perhaps even different purposes; choose the one that suits you best in your current situation — whether you're a chronic procrastinator who can't stick to a schedule, or an organization junkie who craves disciplined routines, find your groove.
Often times when I hadn't felt my best (creativity and productivity-wise), I found myself binging on productivity and 'my daily routine' videos of creatives and influencers I looked up to. One fine binge day, I found myself watching 'I Tried Picasso's (incredible) Daily Routine: What I Learned'; a video by Nathaniel Drew. This was where I found out about Mason Currey's book "Daily Rituals", if you're into history and a productivity junkie like me, it's godsent. Daily Rituals talks about what some of the world's best creative minds lived like, did on a daily basis and how they managed to become known as the creative geniuses they are today. For someone lost creatively, this helped me find purpose and stay grounded in what it truly means to create. Creativity, I realized, was "about the circumstances of creative activity, not the product" as Mason Currey simplified — you don't have to have the same rituals as your favorite YouTuber in order to feel productive, it's about what works for you.
Grand creative visions translate to small daily increments.
As Mason Currey and James Clear so often preach, it's about what you do every day that truly matters in the long run. Routine, or what you do every day, is a choice; rather, a whole series of choices. The choice you make now is directly proportional to who you're going to be tomorrow, the day after, and 10 years from now. It's all a matter of willpower, self-discipline, and optimism. It's easy to say, but implementation is where the real power lies.
The great men turn out to be all alike. They never stop working. They never lose a minute. It is very depressing. - V.S. Pritchett.
Looking at the achievements of the successful can be equally as daunting as it can be inspiring. Mason Currey rebutted Pritchett's bold statement saying "For every cheerfully industrious Gibbon who worked nonstop and seemed free of the self-doubt and crises of confidence that dog us mere mortals, there is a William James or a Franz Kafka, great minds who wasted time, waited vainly for inspiration to strike, experienced torturous blocks of dry spells, were racked by doubt and insecurity." disproving the stereotypes that creative geniuses are always on their "A-game" and waste no time drowning in self-doubt and creative blocks. After all, they're just as human and mortal as we are.
"In the right hands, it (routine) can be a finely calibrated mechanism for taking advantage of a range of limited resources: time (the most limited resource of all) we well as willpower, self-discipline, optimism." It usually is an inspiration bout of procrastination that tends to lead to great works of art. I realized that 2020 shifted a common man's comfort surrounding productivity. Initially, dare I say, productivity revolved around a 'space', an 'office'; a commercial building where people gather to collaborate, create and innovate. Come 2020, we're taken out of what we knew for years and are pushed to evolve. Work-from-home called for spaces to be abruptly disoriented, routines to be uprooted and reality to be uncertain. How can one then find peace and surety to be productive? Are comfort and creativity compatible? A lot of this made me dawdle back to my own creative journey.
I started out my journey on Instagram as a creative back in 2016 when designers were just figuring out that Instagram can be a platform of value. It wasn't as saturated as it is now, there were quality creatives, and I remember pages like 'Instill Design' and 'The Design Journal' would truly interact with creatives, question what render markers were used in making the hand-rendered drill I'd posted and what the tools were, before featuring us on their pages. It was a small community, but it was warm and inclusive. There was no stress about posting 3 times a week for you to still be considered valid by the Instagram algorithm. (Of course, back then I was heavily into Industrial design and so all the content I was interacting with or consuming, was Industrial design related.) Thinking about where I am from where I started, the purpose I started with, and what's being made of us today; the contrast is night and day. Come mid-2020, creating renders for the sake of it, or partaking in short social contests for a chance to be featured on a page was the last thing on my mind. It may have been a creative skill development practice for a few, but I just wasn't feeling it. And I beat myself up for it. I was confused, lost, and didn't understand the bigger picture as to why I just wasn't creating what I once so consistently did?
From around August 2020 to January 2021, I just couldn't find it in myself to create 'random' things for the sake of it. My mind wasn't in it for aesthetic renders or pretty layouts and compositions. I felt as if I was wasting my time and energy by creating things just so they could go up on an Instagram page for others to like. The outcome just did not feel worth it, and the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. I had done some heavy internalizing at the start of the 'lockdown' and redirected my focus towards conscious creativity, so how could I make mindless renders and illustrations when I wanted to create impact? Redirecting my focus from creating posts to please others, towards one that flustered around growth and betterment helped. I'm choosing to walk on a path where I want to push myself to learn something new every day, stretch my creative skills and be a constant observer in daily life. I wanted to bring elements from my day-to-day life towards my creative outlet and have my experiences be my inspirations — much like Vincent and Picasso. This slight change of mindset stirred up my creativity and productivity juices like crazy, it's often the little things that create the biggest changes.
And so, I once again quote Currey's statement; "It's about the circumstances of creative activity, not the product", circumstances define, and re-define creativity. The product or an outcome is not a measure of creativity. Allow yourself space and time to re-discover your purpose and connect with it. Connect with it so deeply that it allows you to battle past creative blocks and procrastination. I'm hoping this prompts you to slow down and consciously evaluate your choices and decisions, pick up a copy of 'Daily Rituals', and empowers you down a path to become your best self.
We're always open to other perspectives, opinions, and a good chat over some coffee or tea. We'd love to host a conversation with you, head on over to our Discord and get in touch!
With 🧡 Team WID.