Sometimes creativity flows at a rate of knots submerging everything that I was previously focussed on. Sometimes it provides intense clarity and inspiration to take my business to the next level or gives me the motivation to complete a project in a really short amount of time.
However, I have Bipolar Disorder and Anxiety and these intense flows can come with a few challenges.
To begin with, once that initial drive has petered out, I often find myself searching for more logs to put on the fire to stoke it again. It’s worse when a project has a longer time to play out, too, because this is when I need to keep the fire burning but not raging. If I can’t keep up the energy, my anxiety increases, my hyperfocus can get out of control and before I know it I am again spiralling out of control like so many times before.
I hear a lot of people talk about this dichotomy of intense creativity and the dying embers of a burnt out project or idea. The emotional highs and the devastating lows and the limbo in between.
So how do we bring balance to a raging fire, keep it going and manage to provide the fuel to complete a project?
I have tried just about every way I can think of to sustain my motivation to complete projects and there are times I’ve succeeded and times I have totally bombed out. I’d love to say I’ve got an answer but the truth is that finding the balance is an ongoing pursuit.
Learn to be aware of your natural rhythm
Okay, so I’m not talking about musical rhythm here; I’m talking about your personal ebb and flow of energy, creativity and motivation. The stuff in you that gets the job done.
Take a minute to reflect on these questions.
- How do you feel when you’re operating at your best?
- What time of the day do you function at your best?
- Do you multitask or single task your job list?
- Do you work better with ambient noise or silence when working on complex tasks?
This is about reflecting on your strengths so you can draw on them consistently.
For example, I:
- feel energised but not supercharged when I am operating at my best,
- I function most efficiently in the morning,
- I tend to be more effective when I single task and
- I prefer silence for complex tasks.
Knowing these things helps me create a balance that reduces my level of stress, increases my productivity reducing my work hours and ensures I have a positive outlook for my days. This happens because I work around my weak areas by developing a routine that plays to my strengths.
Routine matters for all of us regardless of our mental health
Routine is sorely underrated in our culture. Going with the flow insinuates that we don’t have to have a plan and that creating a routine is unnecessary. And I’ve tried it. It doesn’t work well this way.
So, going by our example above, I set all my client work for the mornings because my mind is at its peak before lunchtime. Despite being accustomed to multitasking I have found that I am so much stronger as a single tasking person.
And as much as I love to play music when I’m working, I choose silence and a closed door when working on tasks that require a lot of attention. For me, it’s the things I find particularly challenging when there are too many distractions and it’s just worth the extra boundaries.
Making changes in order to increase peace and reduce stress in our lives is challenging but well worth the effort. The biggest change for me is the reduction in anxiety and a stronger capacity to complete projects. My Bipolar Disorder is more effectively managed because I have a routine and my personal life has stronger boundaries ensuring I don’t overwork and forget I have a life outside of my business!
If you’re struggling with completing tasks, even small ones, take a minute to reflect on those questions and spend some time with God. Ask him to guide you toward a more effective routine for your time and give it a try. You might just be surprised what you learn about yourself in the process.