Whenever I bring up my deep love and respect for nature, I usually feel a little resistance from some of my more cosmopolitan friends. “Camping,” they scoff. “I don’t do bugs.”
Which is fair. Seriously, no judgments. But whether you’re obsessed with the great outdoors or can’t stand it, Mother Nature has a lot to offer, especially in the realm of creativity. I mean, what’s more creative than an entire forest literally growing itself from the soil up? It’s literally creating itself.
So here are three tips we can take from Mother Nature for how to inspire your own creative productivity:
Learn to listen.
The root word of productivity is “produce,” which implies that we need to be doing something in order to achieve. But we’ve got it a little backwards. Productivity doesn’t actually mean anything if we aren’t listening before we act. Learning to listen to our own natural rhythms, desires, dreams, and needs paves the way for greater productivity with quicker results (tons more on this in The Creative Revolution, by the way). When we know what we want, it’s way easier to get there.
Nature is both an excellent tool for learning to listen closely and also a demonstration in efficiency. It will always manifest itself in the most straightforward way possible—animals matching their environments, trees shaking off their leaves for self-preservation in the winter. It knows to do this because it listens to the environment and responds accordingly. Because we are a part of nature, it makes sense for us to do the same. Listen closely to your inner environment, dig deep enough to figure out why you want what you want, and make it happen.
Get rid of the junk.
Numerous studies have shown that being in nature for as little as twenty minutes per day significantly impacts our mental health for the better. Natural environments reduce stress, relieve tension, and balance moods. If you make the effort to spend a few minutes even looking out the window before you start working, you give yourself the chance at greater productivity. Clearing all that mental and emotional clutter through nature is an instant mood booster, and when you’re feeling good, you’re more likely to make better decisions. And, of course, better decisions equal better work.
Work it out.
The effects of the outdoors aren’t just emotional—studies have also shown that getting into nature reduces muscle tension, heart rate, blood pressure, and the production of stress hormones. Bonus points if you’re biking or hiking: you get a hit of adrenaline and a dose of feel-good hormones to go with all those physiological benefits. Here’s the deal: if your physical body isn’t working in the best possible condition (whatever that is for you—only you can define that), it’s pretty difficult to clearly channel creative work. I know I can barely think when I’m slightly hungry, let alone stressed out to the max and lagging in energy. Being in nature helps to heal the body physically, which in turn helps you to create your best work.