Written by Jenni Chadick, Assistant Director of Residence Life
Have you ever felt overwhelmed with the minutia of everyday tasks that you are left depleted of your creative energy? We all have. As a professional in student affairs, I face this myself and also see my students faced with the same heavy baggage of a typical work week. Homework, personal issues, domestic chores, crisis that emerge – and we start saying to ourselves “where’s the time to get inspired and be creative?” I think this line of thinking is often a shortcut to keeping things as they are. Good, not great. There is always time – it’s about what we make a priority. Life is a series of choices, and often we chose to spend our time in less creative endeavors because those are where we find easy answers. Checking something off a to-do list can be much more satisfying and feel like “productivity” as opposed to spending an hour listening to a podcast, or reading articles for professional and personal development. In reality, often times the time dedicated to personal enrichment will allow you to better focus when you return that report to finish, or inspire a new way of looking at a complex problem, or give you the energy to get back into the “flow.” And I’m not talking about checking out facebook, I’m talking about enriching articles, news pieces, innovative technologies, or age-old advice repackaged.
I am an avid consumer of online media to get my inspiration started – it’s convenient and easily accessible from my work computer, home computer, iPhone, or tablet. If you are like me you’ve watched your share of Ted Talks. So here are a few of my favorite lesser known similar sources of inspiration:
Soul Pancake has been in the spotlight most recently with their great Kid President videos. This site (and book) is a great place to inspire you personally or professionally by focusing on life’s big questions. I like to think that college is really all about chewing on these questions (as the title of the book implies), and in Residence Life we can provide that space to reflect, discuss, laugh, and challenge ourselves to hear other perspectives on big ideas like the importance of faith, how do you know what you are passionate about, what constitutes a “good life,” and what does the “pursuit of happiness” really mean. This site helps make that task a bit more manageable through fun activities, conversation starters, and lots of humor.
As an avid This American Life listener since high school English, I was surprised how long it took me to learn about this similarly paced NPR program that explores science and big questions. This podcast serves as great inspiration for some of my student staff training materials, and helps bridge the world of science and skepticism with some existential questions about meaning making. A few of my favorite episodes are Emergence, Colors, and the most controversial episode that has divided RadioLab listeners: Yellow Rain. Trigger warning: this episode a very tough listen, and can serve as the catalyst for very real conversation about perspective and what constitutes “the truth”.
The Daily Love
This site can seem on the surface like a dating advice site, but as I’ve been reading the emails the past year or so I realized it’s more than that. The site’s tagline is “A place to love and be loved.” This is a great site to visit when you might be feeling down, rejected, and just like the world isn’t getting the uniqueness of YOU. In my work I see so many students at one point or another who don’t feel valued by their community – their residents, their roommate, their classmates, or teammates. We’ve all been there, feeling like an outsider, and it can be easy to think you are the only one feeling un-loved. This site reminds us we have all been there, and tips to turning loneliness and rejection into the state we are in and not a definition of who we are. If you practice yoga, this site compliments what your yogi tells you while you are holding that position when it’s the last thing you want to do.
“Tips and tricks for getting things done.” Enough said. This site is the Wikipedia of good ideas – you might start looking at one article and end up reading about home automation installation. Or maybe that’s just me. This is a great site to keep up on what trends in technology are emerging to help our productivity. We hear all the time that technology is making our life simpler, easier, more manageable – and yet for many of us it doesn’t seem that way. This site is a great reminder of how much technology really has helped us (I can’t imaging getting work done before email), and what is on the horizon. Not only focused on technology, this site has great tips on business matters and personal quick fixes to making your life just a bit more streamlined.
Each of these sites can provide that jolt of inspiration when you need it – in a five minute scan, or a full hour listen while on your lunch break. I strongly believe that in order to stay energized and creative at work, you must take the time to get inspired. To get out of that project you are working on, and try something new. My best trainings, lessons, or activities often come to me when I least expect them. Sometimes that means perusing these sites, and other times it means unplugging from it all and going for a walk. Either way, taking the time to find inspiration keeps work interesting, fun, and engaging – and more productive. What websites or media inspire you?