Notebook-on-nightstand syndrome is, for those who have never heard of it, a disorder among designers, writers, and other creative types that, aside from any real practical purpose, serves as more of a declaration of artistic intention. Although there is a certain amount of romance in paper and pen, it would be absurd to neglect the new technologies available to stimulate and make full use of your talents. To that end, I offer here a few tips and tools to awake the inner creativity sleeping inside you. May the very prose of these paragraphs help infect you with the creative spirit!
Cataloguing your inspiration
Every creative person should be a sponge for new information. Keeping in mind that the Internet is an information generator par excellence, the ideal arrangement is a system to organize and store all the content that you find interesting, especially one that allows you to take advantage of the versatility offered by mobile devices.
Pocket is one of the best information containers available today. Whether you’re using its browser extension on your desktop or the mobile app, the tool gives you the option to store any content you want in a list so you can read it later, and can distinguish between text, images, and videos. As it’s a cross-platform tool that syncs your account across devices, you can save an article on the bus with your smartphone, read it at home on your PC, and then delete it.
With regard to subscribing to RSS feeds, there are many options, but we’ve already mentioned several times that the leader in this field is unquestionably Feedly. To its smooth interface we can also add a few other noteworthy features, such as the option to mark your most interesting readings so you can read them later, as well as keep different lists of your sites organized by category. Feedly also has a browser extension and a mobile app, making it highly versatile.
These two examples allow you to manage the swirl of digital information flung at you every day that you might not always wish to store long-term. As saving anything in your browser bookmarks is usually a complete nightmare and using a normal cloud-storage service can end up leaving your cloud drive as messy as your local one, a good solution is to use a tool like the popular Evernote, which lets you coherently organize all your content and sync it across devices. But still—be careful of developing digital Diogenes syndrome!
Organizing your ideas
Now you know how to digest and process your inspiration, but what’s really complicated is learning how to express and channel it for your needs. Whether it be designing a video game, planning a lengthy document, or preparing for academic exams, automating your processes and transforming concepts into concrete elements tend to be the hardest parts of the creative process. Using concept maps is an ideal technique for these purposes, and tools like SimpleMind for Android or CmapTools for Windows and Mac are good points of reference in this field.
If diagramming isn’t your cup of tea, you can always turn to a more natural method such as freehand drawing, or at least its digital version, which admittedly can never equal the real experience but might turn out to be useful in certain cases. Since you probably already know of more than one such graphic design tool for desktop computers, we’re going to mention a mobile option: Sketch Guru, a virtual notebook to create simple drawings that also includes brushes to simulate freehand strokes.
The biggest problem when it comes to letting your creativity roam free and knowing how to make the best use of it is time and the complications that arise when managing your daily grind. It’s thus not a far-fetched idea to use a task planner even when the aims of your project are still a bit amorphous.
No one is born methodical and tenacious, and a small push is always useful. Todoist is a highly useful app in this regard, and reminds you of things you need to keep in mind at intervals and priority levels you can set yourself. It’s not a professional task planner for group projects, but then it doesn’t really need to be.