Wake Up Your Creativity – Anna Guerrero

Inspiration_Is_Everywhere

Carly here!

What does drinking coffee, streamlining your wardrobe so you wear the same things over and over, and waking up slowly have to do with creativity? Anna Guerrero of Canva Design School wrote ideas for waking up creativity in your life, and I found each one of them so inspiring! There are some I’m already really good at (“drinking coffee – check!”) but several others that don’t come naturally. There are ideas I’ve never even thought about before (why spending a lot of time picking out your clothes in the morning can drain your creativity for other tasks). What do you think?


11 Morning Habits That Will Change Your Life

Your alarm clock goes off and it’s time to mindlessly shower, brush your teeth, eat breakfast, then head to work. Is that really all there is?

In order to prime yourself to think creatively in the day ahead, your morning shouldn’t be a thoughtless drag.

The author Annie Dillard once wrote that “how we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives,” but she might have been being too general. Recent studies show that it’s not how we spend our days that’s most important to our lifelong happiness and creativity but how we spend our mornings.

Our mornings set us up either to be primed for creative insights or to be numbed and mindless, merely trudging through our day. Some of us identify as “morning people” while others are anything but; yet either way it matters less what time we wake up at but what we do with that time. Creative people live life differently in a variety of ways, but perhaps none more importantly than what they do with their morning hours.

So check out a few of the scientifically proven habits that the most creative individuals use each morning and see if it’s not just your mornings that are transformed but your lifelong creativity as well.

01. Make time to be mindful

 

Making time for mindfulness in the morning is one of the most important habits a person can form for her creative progression. Recent studies show that taking the time to meditate makes people more creative and increases mental clarity.

Specifically, “open-monitoring meditation” — a meditation of clearing your mind, thinking not of a single concept, person, or object, but instead being open to anything that flits through your head — is particularly conducive to creativity. People in the study who engaged in open-monitoring meditation were significantly better at generating new, creative ideas than those who either did not meditate or meditated differently.

02. Stay Disconnected First Thing in the Morning

 

People only have so much time to focus and stay creative so wasting that time on relatively thoughtless pursuits in the morning is a poor management of both your time and your creative juices. Avoid tasks like checking emails or writing out lists or memos as the first thing you do and instead focus that precious time and attention towards more rigorous, creatively trying tasks that require the very best from you.

If, however, emails or similar morning tasks are hyper time-sensitive, it’s probably worth it to get up a touch earlier so you can focus first on creative tasks then get to emails and such later. We’re all granted small windows of time at which we’re most creative — it’s a shame to waste them.

03. Do Keep Drinking Coffee

Coffee_Creativity

Great news. Caffeine makes us more alert, yes, but perhaps more importantly, it also increases our brain’s production of dopamine, which gives us a feeling of reward and motivation when we start having good ideas. Making it a habit to grab a morning latte in the morning adds structure to a morning and helps create the aforementioned windows of creativity.

04. Be intentional about your choices for the day

 

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said that every day when he woke up he would go to the mirror and ask himself, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” If the answer were “no” for too long then he knew he’d have to make a big change in his life. We’re nothing without intentionally and waking up each morning should be a time to review our motivations in life. Intentionality can be as existentially deep as Jobs’ self-questioning, but it can also be as simple as writing down what you want to get done for the day. If you’re proud of the list — of the work you’ll be doing in the day ahead — and you’re satisfied with where your life is going then you can rest assured that you’re living with intention.

If, however, your daily tasks boil down to things that you find dull or pointless then perhaps it’s time to reconsider why you’re doing them in the first place. Because if you don’t live intentionally — if you don’t check in with yourself often — it becomes far too easy to move through life without ever having lived on your own terms. As Dillard said, our days comprise our lives. Intentionality means taking stock of our lives and making changes if we’re dissatisfied. Creativity can only flourish if we’re in touch with ourselves and our aspirations.

05. Don’t Be in a Rush to Get Up

Namaste_In_Bed_

Design: Lauren Hom

 

The key to creative insights is not solely in the amount of hours you sleep but in how, exactly, you wake up. A large proportion of creative insights come when we’re groggy and still somewhat sleepy because sleepy people have a “more diffuse attentional focus,” which leads them to “widen their search through their knowledge network”. “This widening,” the researchers wrote, “leads to an increase in creative problem solving.”

This may mean you need to go to bed a touch earlier or just set your alarm thirty minutes earlier than usual. And while it might be a bit of a jarring change, it will be well worth it for the creative insights that are gained. Nonetheless, be sure to get enough sleep (which can be in the form of naps) since naps and proper sleep not only improve alertness but they’re also correlated with increased activity in the right brain, which is closely associated with creativity.

06. Get up and move

 

Exercise stimulates creativity not only because it fires off endorphins and gets blood flowing to our brains but also because it helps break up the monotony of sitting and working, leading to more creative insights.
American Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour plays an hour-long tennis match most mornings in New York at 5:45am sharp. Russian composer Tchaikovksy, “believed he had to take a walk of exactly two hours a day and that if he returned even a few minutes early, great misfortunes would befall him,” according to The Guardian. And while both of these instances seem perhaps obsessive, creating a habit around morning exercise and movement is a sure-fire way to avoid getting stuck in a creative rut.

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{The images and words in this article belong to Anna Guerrero.}



 

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