Rising above the ordinary during the extraordinary
As a creative services professional, I’ve been thinking a lot about the best way to spend the extra time I have right now while business slows down due to the coronavirus pandemic. After talking with friends, reading what others are saying, and consulting my own to do lists, here’s what I’ve come up with. I hope it helps you!
If your financial or emotional state is suffering because of the pandemic, that’s ok. It’s understandable, and you’re not alone. Take time to process the changes that are happening and deal with their consequences. You don’t have to stick to your old schedule right now, and you don’t have to be productive during every waking minute. Just be. Now is a great time to try out or ramp up self-care or relaxation techniques, like meditation, yoga, reading, and ignoring the news.
The whole point of social distancing is that daily life is interrupted. It’s important to give yourself the time and space to accept this fact so that you can make adjustments that will support you through this difficult period.
2. Just keep making things.
If there was ever a time to bulk up your inventory with new products, flesh out your portfolio with personal projects, or attract new fans with new content, it’s now. Customers not buying things? Don’t worry—they’ll come back when this is over, and they’ll love your new products. No new clients approaching you? Don’t worry—they’ll come back when this is over, and they’ll hire you because of your amazing new samples. Sponsorships and ad revenue drying up? Don’t worry—they’ll come back when this is over, and they’ll pay you more for your increased reach.
Not only does making things help your creative business, it helps your creative brain. And the worst thing you can do right now is stagnate, so stave off those negative thoughts by diving into your work. And if you need a break from the usual grind, make something else entirely! Now is a great time to work on a side hustle.
3. Create and execute a social media plan.
Right now, most people are stuck at home with way more time than they usually have, and they’re some combination of bored, anxious, and lonely. Naturally, social media usage is skyrocketing—so indulge your addiction! More than ever, your friends and supporters need to hear from you. They want to know how you’re doing, what you’re doing, and what they can do to help if they’re in a position to do so. (As I was writing this, my bank called me just to check in and see if there was anything I needed help with. My bank! It was a pleasant surprise and it definitely improved their brand image in my eyes.)
Beyond attracting new interest in your work, this is a great time to use social media to connect with your peers in similar situations. Reach out and make some new connections! Use social media to get social and build up your professional network. People are more likely than ever to respond to a nice message of support and solace.
4. Learn a new skill.
This is a unique opportunity to set aside the time it takes to pick up a fun or useful skill. And from free guitar lessons to free website building seminars and free Adobe Creative Cloud subscriptions, it might even be cheaper than usual. Don’t forget about the always-free YouTube, of course, and check to see what your local library might offer, too. I bet you have access to services you didn’t even know about! For example, here in Philadelphia, a public library card grants you free access to all of Lynda.com. Learning something new is a particularly effective way to fight back against the negative thoughts that are bound to pop up during this isolating time. Learning a new skill distracts you, entertains you, and gives you more confidence in your creative career. After all, building new skills is the best way to remain resilient in a changing economy. So go lose yourself in an online course—especially if the alternative might be sitting around the house all day.
Reading is one of the most valuable things you can do to develop your creative career (at any time—not just during a stay-at-home order). Over the last five years, I’ve developed a voracious appetite for articles about design, photography, writing, branding, marketing, web design, business development, strategy, personal growth, leadership—really anything that’s even tangentially related to my career. I credit a lot of my success to this constant exposure to new ideas from smart people. As Jim Rohn, an entrepreneur and motivational speaker once said,
"Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary."
Take a minute to think about the pain points you’re experiencing right now. Then take a whirl on Google or Medium to see what people have to say about overcoming those challenges. There’s a ton of insightful and motivational stuff out there to jump-start some career growth.
Here’s the good news: if you’re reading this, you’re already above the ordinary.