What do you do when you can’t do anything?

And if you’re in the creative field, there’s a good chance that over the past year there will have been something you wanted to do but factors beyond your control have prevented it from happening.

In these unprecedented times the population’s health has been made top priority with economic activity taking a backseat. I remember March 2020 when lockdown was a blessing in disguise, our video production company had been producing 100+ projects a year and despite working every waking hour we could simply not clear our editing backlog.

Having no other option in lockdown than to stay in and sit in front of your computer, for the first time in a long time we had cleared the decks of all our edit jobs and all of sudden began experiencing the surreal feeling of not having anything that we had to do.

A deadline is great. It tells you when something needs to be done and you can always work out what’s most urgent by looking when your next deadline is. But when they’re taken away how do you work out what you should be doing?

Us creatives are notorious for always discussing ‘passion projects’ and things we’d like to do if we had the time. Admittedly most of us probably do now have the time to do these projects, but when you’re in the midst of a global pandemic (and the restrictions that come with it)… what do you do when you can’t do anything?

If you’ve clicked on this blog hoping to find the answer to this question, much like you I’m still looking for a definitive answer. If you are also struggling in this time I hope this blog will offer some comfort in the fact you are not alone.

We’re privileged to know a lot of amazing creative professionals and throughout this time everyone of them has either verbally or subconsciously alluded to the fact that they are finding it tough.

I firmly believe that no one is their best and true self during these times of lockdowns and restrictions.

To finish I’d like to share some things that have helped me most this past year and given me purpose on solace in times where it has been difficult to find direction, I hope that these may be of help for you…

  1. Have a daily schedule

In ‘Lockdown One’ I broke down my free days with no client work down into hours and allocated one productive thing into each.

It really helped push a lot of projects forward and give some sense of satisfaction and accomplishment knowing you were making progress on things you wanted to do each day.

In Lockdowns Two (Lockdown Strikes Back) and Lockdown Three (Return of the Lockdown) the schedule has become a bit less rigid with client work increasing, but there are still key things I’ll do each like making sure I’m at my desk by a certain time and taking a walk with my camera hour around golden hour every afternoon.

2. Pick a big extrinsic goal and work towards it.

We’ve always wanted to build up our YouTube Channel ‘Sixty Second Film School’, (a resource for up and coming filmmakers, giving lessons and advice in bitesize sixty second videos) but always struggled to find time to spend on it.

When lockdown was announced building our YouTube channel became one our main goals. It was something we could work with all the restrictions, it was something productive and something we could see measurable results in.

Creating a new video for the channel is always the first task on my daily schedule and ticking that off first thing has helped build momentum to keep up productivity in the day.

3. Work on that idea you have and see it through

There were two big passion projects during the lockdowns that we’d been discussing and we put full energy into both.

One has turned out to be our biggest success to date, the other we worked very hard to create a proposal and plan for but ultimately didn't get picked up.

If we had never given either a go, we never would have known what could have become of these projects. Whether yours are successful or don’t come to fruition, I can personally assure you either is a far better feeling than the regret of wondering what could have happened.

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My intuition says in the future job interviews won’t feature the question ‘so what did you do with your time in the lockdown?’ and if they do I sincerely hope that it’s met with the empathy that this situation deserves.

In a year where simply surviving and staying positive is a huge accomplishment to be proud of, doing nothing and staying at home is in many ways the most productive thing we can do as a society.

I hope this blog can be of help to one person out there who much like myself may be struggling knowing what to do when we can’t do anything.

And I wish you continued success,

Jack

Video and Documentary Producer

www.jacktompkins.co

www.benandjackstudio.com

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