As a graphic designer, I spend roughly eight hours per day “being creative”—and I get paid to do it! Despite that, creativity isn’t something I just put down when I leave the office. Instead, I often find myself seeking ways to incorporate creativity into my after-hours life.
Getting creative outside of work helps keep me challenged and passionate about what I do, and it gives me opportunities to experiment and discover new techniques and ideas I might not encounter in the workplace. For example, in the past I challenged my skill set by participating in a weekly design challenge called Project 52. While a fascinating experience in and of itself, Project 52 also helped me in my career—ideas come more quickly and easily, and I am able to identify more interesting and unique ways to solve creative problems.
I realize, however, that taking the initiative to “get creative” outside of work isn’t necessarily as simple as it sounds. As something of a procrastinator, I know as well as anyone that it can be difficult to find the motivation to actively seek opportunities for creativity. It’s also easy to become discouraged by the achievements of others or the disappointment of a project that didn’t turn out as imagined. But I have also found that if you keep pushing yourself and avoid the temptation to make excuses, the benefits of overcoming those roadblocks are absolutely worth the effort.
If you’re struggling to get started, a great approach is to simply begin collecting new ideas. For instance, I take part in a Facebook group where designers, musicians, writers and the like can post their work and share inspiration. Great ideas can also be found in casual conversations with friends—my business-minded friends have opened my eyes to a whole new kind of creativity embodied in an entrepreneurial spirit. And, sometimes the best sources of inspiration can come from just taking time to observe and appreciate the world around us.
However you approach it, getting creative in your free time can be extremely rewarding. And, in most cases, just jumping in with sheer determination is all it takes to yield great results.