Updated: Apr 28, 2020
Or how social distancing is bringing the creative community together.
I know in the future we'll look back on this time and ask serious questions about why we didn’t work like this before.
I’m at my laptop. It’s 8am. I’ve tidied the kitchen, I can hear my daughter stirring in her room and I’m thinking about letting the rabbit out for a run in the garden. Warm porridge at my side, I scan my to-do list and see that it’s a mix of things I need to do on my website, jobs I should get done around the house and potting up veg, ready for growing on in a few weeks.
In isolation but not alone
Working in a creative industry, the fight between the joy of bouncing ideas off other people and the need to be left alone to focus is a real one. But here we are, in a time of national and international crisis and I’m finding it easier than ever to hit the sweet spot.
And here's why
Meetings are easier, I mean, just easier. I don’t have a school run at the moment, so I’m at my desk by 8am. Prep work done, I’m available from 9am. Boom! My coaching sessions usually involve seeing the client’s office or therapy room: the tiny decor details and things they have around them give me clues to their personality and the kind of language they need to use in their business. Just a quick whizz round with the camera and I get all the info I need.
I’m free to seize the moment. I’ve a couple of working buddies who pop up during the day and if we’re both free, we jump on a call or text chat. It might be a two-minute quick-fire exchange of ideas or a three-hour co-working session. When we all emerge from these times, I won’t let go of my impromptu rendezvous. You can’t make me.
At a time when we’re meant to be staying apart, we need each other more. I feel like I've picked up more from my creative buddies in the past few weeks than I have in the past few years. The encouragement has been phenomenal. I met a few of my contacts before lock-down and I’m so glad to have been able to see them in person but I’ve also bumped into some cracking sorts online and I’m so glad I did. I’ll have a diary full of coffee dates when lock-down is over.
It’s been said that now, more than ever, we buy from people rather than businesses, so why do we keep our wider lives out of the picture? I’m a nosy parker, which means online networking events are a dream. People have books, boxes, pictures, memorabilia and work equipment behind them and I find these details of people’s lives bring so much to their business stories. I understand more about them and the way they operate, just through what they have around them. I’m not sure the cat is going back in the bag afterwards.
The home/work divide isn't good for us creatives. We're not 9-5 people. We keep notepads everywhere and if there's not one to hand, an old envelope will do. We have 30 windows open on the laptop, get lost wondering how many toes a llama has and can find inspiration from a plate of beans on toast. We catch a creative wave and ride it - so on a good day, it's about sharing the high; on a bad one, it's getting lift from a contact on the other side of the world. The structured timetable was never our chosen environment. Wide, open pasture creates richer produce.
A shout-out to my fellow parents
I’m a mother of two: one’s an adult, the other in secondary school. They are easy-going now but were both challenging toddlers. So this is my statement of solidarity with those who balance their work life and little people learning about boundaries, self-regulation, social cues and why we don’t feed Cheerios to the cat. The right kind of people, the kind of people who you need to work with and who will align with your energy, won’t mind one bit. The others aren’t your people, let them slide.
Collaboration on my terms, in my own time and with the people who boost my mood.
What’s not to love? My advice? Reach out today
Catch up with someone you really clicked with at a networking event, a co-worker you haven’t seen in a while or a family member who really gets you and understands what you’re trying to do. Go! Go! Do it now!
Enjoy half an hour of creative chat, let things go where they will. Go with the flow, tease from them the little skills you never knew they had, allow them to do the same with you.
Nothing is irrelevant, everything creative is worthy, connection is essential.
This is our time to show our creative expertise by being creative - but this won't happen in a vacuum. We're part of a revolution, reworking and remodelling the way work is done, setting ideas free. The window of creative opportunity is right in front of us. Let's open it up.