Think of a room about 10 feet long and 7 feet wide. Place yourself in the middle of that room with a bed, a computer, your cell phone, and a couple of your favourite things. Now, you have a decision to make between the three following options: work, homework, or leisure. You can do any of the three for however long you want or need to. Now make that same decision about 3 times a day for almost 400 consecutive days. A choice that was once second nature in the midst of busy days in busy weeks, has now become an absolute dread for me within the past year.
Upfront, it may sound easy and mundane. This is what everybody has dealt with since the beginning of industrial times. Work, homework, and leisure– it’s the cycle of life. So what is making it so hard for me now? I have struggled to be productive. The creative blocks I have encountered felt like mountains. My lack of motivation haunts me when I close my eyes at night.
As a graphic designer, my craft is very much reliant on my motivation to be creative and productive. When these avenues are congested, my world feels like it’s caving in. The quarantine has forced many around the world to move back home and spend time with their families. At first, this felt like a much needed breath of air– especially for us students. However, enjoying time in the peace and comfort of our homes can really quickly turn into being trapped in the loudest silence you’ve ever heard.
When my bedroom became my office, my work station, my computer and fabrication lab, my recording studio, my gym, and my dining room– it made it really hard for it to still be my bedroom. Compartmentalization was easier when the different parts of my life could be physically separated. This melding of physical spaces and mental states is psychologically confusing. It became difficult to separate the feelings associated with things I actually love to do with feelings of dread and anxiety.
Taking a step back, once I realized what I was going through mentally, it only made sense to figure out a way to cope with this confusion of feelings and the lack of creativity, productivity, and motivation this confusion was causing. Quarantining has forced emotional associations that I didn’t want. To combat this, I needed to make new associations despite the limitations of space.
My first instinct was to move my entire workstation to my backyard in the dead of Winter– but honestly, it didn’t have to be so drastic. Even something as simple as bringing my sketchbook to the park or doing some quick design work on my laptop in my car was enough to help me to disassociate my bedroom with the existential dread of needing to be productive.
When the motivation comes back organically and creativity starts to flow freely again, productivity is a pleasant by-product of that.
Motivation ∴ Creativity ∴ Productivity
Rachel Wong is one of the graduates of the York/Sheridan Program in Design class of 2021. Catch Rachel’s work showcased at the online graduate showcase on April 20–21. Visit ysdn2021.com for more details.