THE BLOG

28
Apr

The Science of Sleep

Are you yawning as you settle down to read this? Or perhaps you’ve just refilled your coffee cup for the third time in an effort to “stay focused.” We are loathe to admit it in a work environment that prizes being “on” at all hours, but, as a whole, we are not getting enough rest. Recent studies have confirmed that Americans do not get enough sleep, with more than a third of adults getting less than seven hours a night, which may be just as bad at not sleeping at all. So, we may very literally be working ourselves to death.

Even Arianna Huffington, the queen of productivity, has gotten onboard. Her latest book, “The Sleep Revolution,” touts the benefits of getting more shut eye in order to be more creative, productive, and even happier. In her 2010 TED Talk, where she advised attendees to “sleep their way to the top,” Huffington tackled the culture of “sleep deprivation one-upmanship” that has led people to brag about how little rest they’re getting and how much they’re doing.

We’ve adopted a culture where we struggle to recognize or justify our own value unless we’re in a constant state of being in-demand. When we’re too busy, have too many conflicting deadlines and back-to-back meetings, it’s easy to trick ourselves into believing that just compromising on a few hours of sleep is the best answer. But ongoing sleep deprivation, even losing just a few hours a night, can lead to health risks, lowered creativity, trouble concentrating or even an inability to function through the workday. And, according to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep is something that can’t be caught up on later.  

What can we do? Powering down all electronics, at least one hour before bed may be our biggest goal. By signaling to your brain that it’s time to relax, it can start the necessary process to prepare for sleep. Having a nightly ritual, like meditation, reading or putting on some extra comfy pajamas, can help ease your mind to make the transition from the busy workday to the world of Morpheus.

So, next time you’re getting lost in your work at 2 am and feeling that charge that comes from knowing your ideas are flowing and you’re bringing value to the table, just remember how much you’ll suffer for missing those extra zzz’s tomorrow. Or as Huffington says, “I urge you to shut your eyes and discover the great ideas that lie inside us, to shut your engines and discover the power of sleep.”

15
Apr

Lost and Found on the Creative Path

Everyday is a new creative adventure, whether you’re working on a passion project or trying to come up with the next big idea for your client. We should try to strive to let ourselves embrace, explore and be inspired by our own personal creative paths.

But sometimes, we wander off the path and get lost on the way. The journey may still feel enjoyable, but we’ve stepped away from the process in an unplanned or unhelpful way that takes you too far from actually achieving your goals. And in those instances, no matter how pleasurable the experience, sometimes, if you go off-course, you’ve got to find your way back. Here are three tips to getting yourself back on track.

  1. Find a guide. If you’re truly lost, perhaps you need a little guidance to find your way? Maybe it’s revisiting the original creative brief to see if you’ve strayed too far from the original concept. Maybe it’s asking your colleagues, team or boss for advice when you’re facing a mental challenge that has you sidelined. Or, if your struggle is a bigger challenge of feeling adrift in your job, a mentor or even a career coach may be the answer. As creative consultant Jeffrey Davis said of feeling sidelined, “I’ve seen talented minds go to waste out of sheer stubbornness, pride, and shame in not asking for directions from others… Every thriving enterpriser I know, interviewed, and have studied has a mentor and a group of trusted allies.” Don’t be afraid to admit how you’re feeling and to ask for help.
  1. Focus. This is the tough one because struggling with focusing could be what caused you to feel lost in the first place, but sometimes, the only answer to getting back on track is to buckle down and do it. While we always need to allow ourselves a balance of creative freedom, having the concentration and discipline to see ourselves through challenging projects, situations and even time periods is essential to seeing things through. So, next time you feel yourself drift off your path, work on training your mind to focus, just like you would any muscle.
  1. Give Yourself Time to Get Lost. We’ve explored before how important a little time off to daydream and wander is for the creative brain. Perhaps you’re getting lost due to creative fatigue. In a digital era where we’re always connected and an industry where we can technically do our work from anywhere with a wifi signal, it’s easy to understand how fast we can get to a state of burnout. Wieden + Kennedy London even recently went so far as to institute email-free hours and limited meeting times to help combat the “always-on” expectations. If you’re feeling disconnected in your creative work, maybe it’s time to schedule some time to be actually disconnected.

Sometimes, the best way to find your way back is to embrace the journey for a bit. After all, as Tolkien said, “Not all who wander are lost.”


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