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Unplugged: Powering Off Digital Allows Creative Inspiration to Flourish

Unplugged: Powering Off Digital Allows Creative Inspiration to Flourish

What Inspires You?

Inspiration. It’s at the heartbeat of the flooring industry and what keeps us all in the cycle of evolution. What inspires you? How are you inspired? When are you inspired?

Being a “creative” today is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that we are all constantly infiltrated with new perspectives, fresh ideas, more accessible travel, and, well, ideas. Within an instant, my newsfeed is taking me to an emerging high-rise project in Dubai; I’m in a train buzzing through wine country during harvest in an Instagram story; I’m watching a blogger’s design journey as she renovates a midcentury bungalow in San Francisco – while I am on Wi-Fi and in the air from LaGuardia to Paris. Information – too much information – is at my fingertips at breakneck speed.

Market Watch recently revealed that the average American adult spends 11 hours per day consuming digital media, which is up from 9 hours and 32 minutes only four years ago. But I did not need a study to tell me this news. My newest iPhone XS Max reveals my screen time usage, and the daily notification is staggering, to say the least. It leaves us all wondering, “Did I really look at my phone that much today?”

Do I Need Digital Detox?

While we’re consuming all of this media, how is our brain processing it? Studies show that the overconsumption of digital makes us feel differently, react differently, think differently, and sleep differently. According to a Mashable article from just a few years ago, some cognitive experts have found benefit in digital exposure and its effects on the human brain, whereas others worry that too many distractions have left our brains uncreative and impatient.

Digital has its place in the creative process; let’s be honest. After all, it’s 2019. Sites like Pinterest, Houzz, and the world of influencer marketing have made interior design and the floor shopping process engaging and attainable, and for that, the industry is grateful. But as “creative” professionals who are focused on pushing the design envelope ever forward on behalf of both the industry and our brands, how do we cut through the noise?

Slide to power off.

True creativity is not happening behind the screen. While the screen may reaffirm our ideas and give us a sense of belonging, the creative process does not begin or end on the screen. At the risk of sounding unapologetically cliché, the creative process is all around us in the most present and current sense. The creative process is sitting on the ground surrounded in paint swatches, white oak slices, frayed pieces of fabric, and a team of experienced professionals with sawdust in their eyes. It comes from digging deep in the parts of our minds, our hearts, and our souls, which technology cannot power up or power on.

Creativity is connectivity – with the human spirit, not a cable.

My most recent and prevalent example of unplugging for authentic creativity to prevail was during an African safari this past summer with my family. A once-in-a-lifetime experience, the journey allowed us to soak in the majesty of nature in all its raw splendor. From the journey, one of my newest collections was born.

Unplugging has become key to my creative process. And my wish is that it becomes key to yours as well. Keep that pen and notebook in your bag. Pull it out when an idea or inspiration strikes. Start up a conversation with the person in the plane seat next to you. Sit in a local coffee shop and people watch. Walk through a museum and read every exhibit marker. Laugh out loud with your chin up. It’s within all of this living and all of this connecting and the moments unplugged that creativity – true creativity – will flourish.

Whether or not we unplug from digital, the world isn’t going to stop. But as the future of the flooring industry and as “creatives,” it’s up to us to quiet the noise – so that we can create and continue to propel the industry forward. So, when you see me in the airport chatting up a stranger, sketching in my journal, or soaking in a beautiful moment, you’ll know it’s intentional.

Let us power off and create.

Where do you go from here? How do you power off more often? Here are some simple tips from Digital Detox to help you unplug:

  • Start your day right: Get up, relax, and eat a healthy breakfast instead of reaching for the phone.
  • Go old school: Get an old-fashioned flip phone instead of a smartphone.
  • Do more: Pack your day full of person-to-person meetings where you commit to not reaching for the phone.
  • Bring a book: Pick up a good read.
  • Download an app: Get some tech help in monitoring the time you spend on the phone.
  • Go on a digital diet: Reduce your time online by 10 percent.
  • Take a mini break: Leave your phone at home for a day.
  • Streamline your work: Ask that people connect with you only through one medium.
  • Get active: Jog or bike to work, phone free.
  • Leave your work behind: Consider a work phone and personal phone and utilize out of office.
  • Involve your friends: Invite your friends to keep you accountable.
  • Lock up: Ask a friend or partner to take your phone for a bit.
  • Set a strict technology bedtime: Your technology needs a bedtime, too.
  • Schedule some free time: Schedule tech time and then turn it off.
  • Be more in the moment: Go for a walk and soak in your surroundings.
  • Just switch it off: Enough said.

Emily Morrow Finkell is an interior designer and CEO of Emily Morrow Home Hardwood,  a div. of EF Floors & Design LLC in Dalton, Georgia, a provider of hardwood floors and home furnishings, and an NWFA design contributor. She can be reached at emily@emilymorrowhome.com.