Today marks the last day of June, but in the Northern Hemisphere, we’re only into the first full week of summer. And I don’t know about you, but it’s already been a roller coaster ride. Whether it’s technology, education, social media or the arts, it looks like the summer will be full of heat-induced frenzy.
However, that does mean you have to give into the frenzy. Although summer may be a perfect time to try your hand at something new or fix the things that have always driven you crazy, it’s also important to relax. Remember that this season is also the perfect time to embrace a little down time. Freelancers like to brag about having the option to take a holiday or break whenever it suits them, but a lot of us — thanks to social media and mobile apps galore — forget to take the time to completely pause and escape.
We can’t always run off on a two-week vacation when we like, but we can take a break at home or nearby long enough to enjoy the fruits of our labor guilt free. So here are a few summertime-themed ideas and tools to help those poor souls (like me) remember that life isn’t all about deadlines, contracts and invoices.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to get away with In the World of … Summertime edition.
In the World of … Enjoying Your Joy
To warm you up to the notion that summer’s not meant for all work and no play, I direct you to the inspiring words of Fajr Muhammed, a fashion blogger with an eye and ear for social media and graphic design. Her latest post, Stylish Thought’s Guide to Having an Unforgettable Summer, may seem like it’s intended only for the ladies, but the overall message is for everyone: relax and enjoy the warm weather while it lasts.
Lately, there’s been a number of articles addressing the necessity of downtime, sleep and, well, plain sitting still in a creative professional’s life. We know we all need rest in order to live, but many of us don’t quite grasp its effect on our creative output. Stylish Thought’s recommendations are just a simple how-to on summer fun. I’d be lying if I said there hasn’t been times when I forgot how that goes.
In the World of … Social Media
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Engaging in social media isn’t really “taking a break,” especially in a world where it seems like you can’t get away from it. But hear me out.
If you’ve been online in the last 48 hours, you may have heard about a little project called Google+. When I first heard about the launch, I was skeptical. I thought the last thing the world needed was another social network, but I’m coming around.
I’m a Twitter fan, but I don’t touch Facebook due to their noxious policy of “owning” whatever you post on their site. And quite honestly, when it comes to staying in touch with friends and family, I’d rather pick up a phone, send an e-mail or drop by unannounced. (I only joined Myspace to follow musicians who didn’t have an official website.)
But I think Google+ shows promise. Once again, it seems people are ohhing and ahhing over features that help connect you to your friends, family and co-workers, but I have to admit the video capabilities of Hangout would be a way to encourage relaxation. And the Mobile and Huddle functions may help you plan an impromptu meetup or getaway — again, in the name of relaxation.
However, the feature that piqued my interest most was Sparks. Unlike Lifehacker, I see Sparks as a great hub for staying up-to-date on news related to topics I cover regularly and research for anything that catches my fancy. I don’t see it as a substitute for an RSS feed at all. My RSS reader is full of blogs that cover topics like general freelancing advice, copyediting tips and what’s going on in the Indianapolis scene.
But what if I want to know a little more about indoor rock climbing or plan to write a piece on climate change initiatives in Eastern Europe a couple months from now. I don’t want to subscribe to an RSS feed for that. Sparks sounds like a lazy man’s personalized newsagent where the Average Joe can have the info culled for him and delivered right to his “doorstep.”
I don’t have a Google+ invite yet, so all of this is just wishful thinking on my part. But I think Google+ shows promise for freelancers looking to get away for a short spell, but also have a system in place working for them while they’re out enjoying the world.
In the World of … Photography
In 2010, Irina Werning, an Argentinian photographer with a fascinating eye and quirky mind, began a project that placed subjects in a similar background and style that mimicked an old photo from their past. An admitted obsessive, Werning said she wondered how people would feel and look if they re-enacted the same actions and expressions in the older image.
The result is a wonderful ongoing event that showcases our humanity while we laugh at our common threads. It’s fascinating to see how much some people had changed over time, yet others look virtually the same. I also noticed a few poses, settings and background elements that reminded me how our cultural similarities are far greater than our differences.
From the ’70s and ’80s-style clothes and hair to the casual acceptance of cigarettes and firearms in the home, Werning’s project salutes our need to not only enjoy life, but to also capture its spirit from time to time.
In the World of … Preservation
I wouldn’t want you to think I believe technology and family don’t mix. My desire to not know every thought my 14-year-old cousin shares with her classmates doesn’t mean I don’t want to share with my family. And for a lot of us, summertime always seems to involve spending a little quality time with the family. That’s why I was excited to learn about the online virtual family album Proust.
How many of us are still learning about family members’ antics of days gone by? Have you ever wondered why it wasn’t until last year that you heard about your cousin’s plans to audition for the Rockettes? Or why your great grandmother went back to using her first husband’s surname after she divorced her second hubby? Proust lets you and your family post pictures, record video and answer questions about your life, dreams and beliefs so you can share them with each other in a virtual album.
Goodness knows we all feel like our families don’t communicate enough these days, especially when it comes down to the really important things. Whether you choose to keep your answers private or public, it’s nice to see technology used to help us build connections to our “true” selves. And not just to our whimsical ideas about the latest summer blockbuster or workplace drama.
Proust seems like a great summertime project that you can begin with your whole family, across states, countries and oceans. Return to it when you need a break from business-as-usual, and simply enjoy watching your family story grow in one place for all your loved ones to see.
In the World of … Creativity
Still not convinced you can take a break without the world collapsing? I understand. Some of us simply can’t break the seal. Our work ethic is so willful that it owns us.
That’s why I want to share a video with you that highlights ways to maintain creativity without it seeming as if you’ve completely checked out. The video created by TO-FU Design says that if you want to stay in business producing creative masterpieces of your own genius, here’s 29 simple ways to do so.
You may have seen different incarnations of this list around the web, but TO-FU was clever enough to create a video and add snazzy music. So I have to credit them for introducing me to the list. Although I would change #8 to tea instead of coffee, I agree with all the suggestions.
No matter how much you have on your plate this season, remember that all work and no play, makes Homer something something. Even though you hope to tackle that book proposal, build the perfect PC for your office and re-organize your filing system, try to enjoy the fruits of your labor. And if anyone accuses you of slacking off, tell ’em you’re recharging your creative flow.
Do you ever need a little prodding to go on holiday?
Is it difficult for you to relax, even when others seem to be letting go with ease?