I don’t know about you but getting back into the swing of working after the holidays has been a struggle for me. This year, I sat down at my computer and thought of all the things that I needed to do that weren’t work. Focusing was difficult, I couldn’t form cohesive thoughts, and I spent hours working but accomplishing nothing. Then an unexpected road trip interrupted my work week, and I spent 4 days away from the office, far removed from my every day doldrums.
When I got home, everything was different. My head was clear, the little distractions that had kept me from my work were no bother, and I was able to sit down and produce like I hadn’t in weeks. That little trip 12 hours north for a few days had restored my drive and sparked my creativity. Just like a long work day needs a lunch break, sometimes a vacation is exactly what you need to reset your brain and get back to work. Here are some tricks to take advantage of a change of scenery.
Don’t Drive Yourself
While you want to make a trip far enough away from home to give you a new perspective, you don’t want to spend the time focused on the road. I was lucky enough to make the trip with someone else and was a passenger for 12 hours of watching the countryside roll by. I was able to notice the changes in the landscape, the types of buildings I saw outside the windows, and the beauty of large stretches of mountains and forests. If you’re making the trip alone, try taking a bus or a train, so that you can sit by the window and just absorb the world as it goes by.
Carting bags and suitcases along and worrying about your luggage will drain you physically and mentally. If you aren’t traveling that far, be smart and take only the most necessary things, which will let you travel light. If, on the other hand, you are one of those lucky creative people who can afford to travel to distant places, consider either not buying so many souvenirs or choosing some help with your excess baggage to take that load off your shoulders while traveling. It’s often significantly cheaper than checking baggage on an airplane, and instead of dragging your personal items along with you, they will be waiting for you when you arrive. It’s a great way to minimize your stress while traveling, further freeing your mind for creativity.
Explore New Things
Traveling to stay with a well-known friend or family member may seem like a great idea, but if you’re really looking to change your mindset, consider immersing yourself in a different culture. It can be as simple as a musical concert you wouldn’t otherwise attend, or as exotic as exploring a foreign land where you don’t speak the language. Studies have shown that international travel and other experiences that take you out of your comfort zone have a positive effect on creativity. While a visit with an old and familiar friend might be a great way to relax, it’s not likely to have the same results when it comes to sparking creativity.
Sure, posting a picture of a fantastic view to Instagram is a vacation staple, but consider disconnecting from your electronic life for a while. It will just bring you back to the same head-space that you occupy all the time. While it’s great to be able to stay in touch when needed, be sure to put the cell phone away or limit yourself to a couple of stops a day to check in. You want to make sure that you are digesting the sights, sounds, and scenery of your chosen locale, and you don’t want to spend all day with your head bent down staring at the phone. If, like me, you’re making living by freelancing and you are using websites like Gumtree or Upwork to earn money, set up alerts or notifications, and check them perhaps once or twice. That’s it. Focus on the things around you and allow the work to wait just a bit.
Sometimes, getting out of a rut means actually getting out of it. Pack your bags, lock the doors, and go experience something new. A change of scenery has some great working benefits to help get your creative juices flowing and let’s face it, sometimes it’s just fun.