Did you know, on average, Americans spend more than 10 hours a day in front of screens? While screen time is an inevitable aspect of our daily lives, too much of it can inhibit creativity.
Too much screen time has been linked to problems concentrating and focusing, and it can also make it difficult to ever shut off our mind and give it a break. But with so much of our lives dependent on screens, how do we learn to step back and get our creative juices flowing?
Set aside time for creative endeavors
If we spend almost half our days in front of screens, we leave little time for creative projects. And even those of us who sit in front of screens to create are zapping our energy with all that screen time.
Setting aside time every day — or at least every week — to work on projects that don’t involve screens will not only reduce your screen time, it will give your mind a chance to wander and your brain a chance to work in new ways.
Consider projects that require you to think differently than you do in your work or home life; come up with solutions to problems (big or small); and tap into skills that make you feel excited and invigorated to use.
For example, I’m currently creating a scrapbook of personal photos. As a writer, the only creative work I typically do with my hands is type up a story, but this project has shown me what a powerful tool my hands can be. The project has also allowed be to tap into my previously unknown artistic abilities and learn how to enjoy the freedom of a project that doesn’t need to adhere to any guidelines, like grammar, spelling or punctuation.
Creative projects don’t have to be art-based, though. You’d be surprised at how even simple projects can require you to use parts of your brain, and skills, you don’t often get to use!
Because of the numerous screens we have in our lives, we’re subject to countless interruptions and distractions throughout the day. Being pulled in so many different directions tires our brains, zapping our creativity as well as our ability to focus and think deeply.
When we go outside, we leave the distractions of our screens behind and begin to restore our attention. Studies have found that spending time outside helps our brains rest and reset. And when our brains have the chance to reset, they are then ready to wander, create and imagine.
Next time you go outside, remember to leave the omnipresent phone screen behind as well — or at least silence it and only use it to take photos of nature. Focus instead on being in the moment: Take in your surroundings. Feel the sun and wind on your face. Listen to the sounds of nature. And tell me an idea or two doesn’t pop into your head while you’re out there.
My best ideas come to me when I’m outside. I usually think of my blog topic, and begin to map out the post in my head, when I’m walking my dogs in the open space behind my house, hiking with my husband, or running or biking on a nature path.
Pick up something to read
To create, you need inspiration, and reading about unfamiliar people, places and ideas are wonderful sources of inspiration. Researchers found that reading fiction in particular requires you to use your imagination as you visualize the characters and places the authors is describing.
Reading also challenges you to think about things you may not have otherwise, and it helps you form your own thoughts and opinions on subjects.
However, it’s important to do most of your reading on paper rather than screen. Not only does picking up a physical magazine, book or article lead to better reading comprehension, it engages rather than tires your brain.
The next time you’re in a creative slump, step away from your screens. While screens can be useful for producing and sharing creative projects, they will never take the place of what your brain can do all on its own!