Many people forget how routine their lives are. While this is especially true for those, like me, who have a regular 9-5 job, freelancers often get into their own routines, even while being less constrained by hours and location.
Doing the same thing over, day after day, contributes to creative blocks. Some might work through these blocks temporarily (by visiting sites such as this one), but it neglects the root cause of what got them into the block in the first place: routine.
I schedule a day out for myself as often as possible. I don’t call it a day off because those are usually taken for a specific purpose: a trip, work around the house, etc. For me, a day out is a way to temporarily break out of my routine. In the process, I usually get a boost of creativity.
My rules for taking a day out include:
- I take a long walk. Sometimes, walking is my only mode of transportation on a day out. You observe much more during a walk than any other form of transportation. It reduces stress and feels good.
- I go to a different neighborhood. Rather than going to the same comfortable cafes and coffeeshops, I visit a different neighborhood or small town. If I’ve visited all the ones within walking distance, I might drive to others and spend time walking around to get a feel for where I want to eat, sit, write, etc.
- I take extra time to observe. While walking, I’ll often stop and look around or sit on a bench for several minutes to watch people. I rarely get a chance to do this during my routine. It sometimes feels odd allowing myself time to just observe the flow of life.
- I never have an agenda. I don’t take a day out with any goal in mind (except perhaps to have fun and reduce stress).
- I pack lightly. I read a quote recently that said the less you pack, the more you experience. I usually take a notebook and a pen. Anything else, especially gadgets, will be a distraction.
- I try to talk to people. I take the time to engage store owners and others in friendly conversation. I might ask a specific question about the neighborhood (or small town) since I am new to the area. I usually learn something new, often about myself.
At one point in my life, I took a day out on a weekly basis. Now, I’m lucky to do it once every two months. I plan to take a week out every year to visit a new city by myself, so if you see a short guy with glasses wandering around your neighborhood, say hello.