I’m aware of the irony even as I write this: you most likely arrived here because you clicked on a link posted on Facebook or Twitter. WeddingIQ relies on many platforms to market our blog, which is in itself a form of social media. Like most people, I spend an unproductive amount of time perusing multiple online communities, procrastinating about work, looking at photos of cats and stalking friends from high school. Well, maybe you don’t do those things specifically, but it’s hard to resist the pull of the ever-changing, ever-present Internet. For most of us, it has become an integral part of our lives. We market our business, read the news, invite friends to parties and share information on forums. For some, though, it can be the antithesis of productivity and actually can harm our creativity.
I recently had a conversation with a friend who, along with her husband, swore off Facebook and Instagram for an indefinite period of time. Both creative business owners, they found themselves scrolling endlessly though posts anytime there was a lull in the conversation or as a break from work. They also described experiencing occasional feelings of depression, jealousy or anger when viewing others' work online. I have felt similarly at times, despite the obvious knowledge that one’s social media presence is often not a complete picture of one’s business, success or personality. When confronted on a daily basis with the amazing, beautiful and inspiring work of others, it’s easy to start making comparisons and falling down the rabbit hole of self-flagellation.
So, what to do when constant inspiration turns creativity into stagnation? We can, of course, take extreme action and delete all of our accounts, throw our phones in the Bay, and cancel our internet service. I don’t recommend such extreme measures, but perhaps we can limit our exposure a bit to allow some real creativity to flow through. Here are some suggestions I’m trying to limit my time online:
Choose specific times to check accounts. I used to wake up, pick up my phone off the nightstand and start scrolling. I hadn’t even gotten out of bed yet. Sometimes I would get emotional about something I saw online before I had even fully awakened. This is a horrible way to start the day. The information will still be there once I’ve had my coffee and become conscious. I’m also limiting the number of times I check throughout the day so I can concentrate on work, or read a book, or have lunch with a friend.
Unfriend, unfollow and disengage. Sometimes you just need to let go of the negativity. If a particular person’s posts cause daily emotional pain, remove them from your feed. Don’t feel guilty - just do it. Trust me, it will improve your life. We do not owe our undying allegiance to all the hundreds of people we are connected to online. If I wish to occasionally see what others are up to, I can visit their page, go to their website or read their blog.
Turn off notifications. I’m part of several peer groups online that share technical information, post jobs and inquiries and offer invitations to professional events; however, I do not need to be interrupted by hundreds of members posting all day long. Still, I want to be a part of the community as it has led to finding assistants, getting equipment repaired and solving urgent problems. Now I browse posts at a chosen time or when the need arises.
Do something everyday offline. I get my best ideas when I’m walking in the woods. I know it’s a little "Thoreau," but there is something that happens when my feet pound rhythmically on the ground, the sweat starts to pour and my mind is allowed to wander unfettered. Unrelated thoughts are rapidly juxtaposed, tangents are thoroughly explored and, if I’m lucky, a eureka moment may emerge. Sometimes it simply allows me to clear my mind.
Whatever your method, allow yourself some time to cultivate your creativity in healthy way. I’ll be attempting to take my own advice for the next couple weeks. I’m sure I won’t be perfect, as habits are hard to break, but I’m hoping it will spark some inspiration to carry me through the fall season.