Creation of inspiration (part 1; the reset)

… or; How Starbucks saved my graduation project.

In the business of web- development and design, there’s a lot of pressure and designing and developing for clients all day long will sometimes drain your energy to the bare minimum. At these times it is important to have some kind of a reset switch, a muse or something comparable. Some people use holidays for this, some people play games, others take out a bottle of scotch or a crate of beer.

While starting up and working at my company for an average of 60 hours a week, I was also working on the graduation project for my bachelors degree. The project I was working on was an alpha version of soChef. Due to the busyness of the business, my creativity and inspiration were both at an epic low, together with the amount of time I could and would spend on the project.

If we fast-forward to about week eight of the graduation project, the only thing done was an outline of the project. This brings us to a Saturday-afternoon at Starbucks. Whilst the initial target was having a nice cup of coffee and sitting in an overly comfortable chair, soon my attention got pulled towards the notebook in my messenger bag. Like a veteran fighter-pilot in a dogfight, for three hours straight I was locked onto my notebook. The target was writing down everything currently in my mind about the unnamed project that would later be called soChef.

The end result was 4 A5-sized sides of paper filled with notes, scribbles, sketches and highlights. This astonishingly large boost in productivity made me visit that same Starbucks at least once every week after that. Throughout the week, I would put my attention to office-related projects and tasks. As soon as I would leave the office on friday-night, my mind would be put onto my graduation project.

These ‘graduation project weekends’ would be kickstarted on friday night. On that night I would take about half an hour to decide which tasks should be completed that weekend. Then during my visit to Starbucks I would work out how these tasks should be finished and would start on the tasks with the highest priority. The time after the Starbucks visit would then be used to finish all the tasks for that weekend.

The simplicity of the Starbucks situation was the driving force to my productivity. No internet connection (I refuse to pay a dreadful large amount for average-quality WiFi), Starbucks’ great music playlists and their awesome multi-shot frappuchino’s and coffees made – and still make – for an intensely inspiring mobile work experience.

Those massively creative weekends also worked as a sort of quick-charge towards my creativity at the office. Mind you, I don’t have a boring office situation, we’re not in rigid cubicles and I can walk outside and take a good whiff of fresh air any time I want. Yet the change of scenery, the environment and the weekly reset is what kept me sane during the periods that life was the busiest. It got me to graduate and eventually give a guest lecture about the project. It got me to a state of mind where way too many ideas pop up all the time. And finally, it got me to relax.

Now that there is something which is very important. If you can get yourself into a state of mind in which you are stressed, yet have the total control to stay mentally relaxed, there is not a road that can’t be gone and a turn that can’t be taken.