20 September 2022

How does nature inspire creativity in a digital-first world?

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In a world now connected digitally, with remote working becoming the norm, sometimes it’s easy to stay at home all day. This is especially true working for an app and web development company in a capital city. Live, work, and eat all from the comfort of your home – it sounds fantastic! But this monotony doesn’t exactly inspire creativity.

With the current mental health crisis upon us, it has never been more necessary for our mental, physical, and creative health to reconnect with nature. Working from home has lots of benefits, and our team love the flexibility. However, our creative brains can become clouded as we lack exposure to new experiences. Monotony kills creativity.

Why do developers need creative mindsets?

This all sounds very philosophical… I bet you are wondering why app and web developers have to worry about how we inspire creativity! Well, to our development team coding is a creative process. Ten developers could create ten different solutions to the same problem, each as valid as the last. With our brains perfectly settled into their own little secure worlds, where the events of the day are pretty much predetermined, we must ensure we make time to escape the virtual digital world so that we can maintain creative mindsets and banish monotony.

As a backend developer at GearedApp I need to use my entire brain to solve problems that often require full submersion. This is what I love about coding, but it can often be hard to switch from hyperfocus and back into the world. With complex problems, it is easy to get stuck in a rut, and like all creative processes, the best code is written when the writer is relaxed and has the brain capacity to ponder and process alternate approaches.

After a year of working from home, I found my motivation was lacking, my concentration dwindling, and I had lots of challenging work to complete. At lunch, I would eat my food and then sit and think about work. I tried watching TV, listening to music, and even meditating to relax to try and inspire creativity – these worked to some degree but I could never really stop thinking about my code. My mental health was suffering and so was my work.

Small steps to connect with nature

There are lots of ways to inspire creativity, but for me getting outside felt natural. I decided to try and connect with nature by going for a half-hour walk at lunch on wooded paths near my house and counting the number of squirrels on the path, listening to the birds sing and looking at all the old trees. I found when I sat down at my desk after lunch, I would often solve the issue I was stuck on for hours in a matter of minutes. Nature improved my mental health, creativity, and subsequently code quality – almost immediately. 

This is one small change I made to connect with nature as part of my daily work routine, as indeed I’m sure many of you already do. I also try to connect with nature in the evenings, and on my holidays – the more the better! 

Oscar images for nature blog

I go away to remote areas of Scotland several times a year, and every time I return I come back to work with a fresh perspective. Reading by a river, sitting on a cliff top, or climbing a tree all make me feel connected to the world, and myself – they are also ways we can play as adults. When returning I have a fantastic flow when writing code, and I mentally feel strong and grounded. 

Yes, it is cold outside! The weather can be pretty horrible in Scotland as we all know… A few weeks ago I started what was supposed to be a four-day backpacking trip in Assynt. One day in and the conditions were horrendous, visibility was about 10 metres, it rained solidly for hours, the wind was crazy, and was very cold. Lying in my tent at night unable to sleep, I decided to not make myself miserable and go home the next day. It was not the sunny calm trip I was hoping for. I returned with 5 ticks that had destroyed my legs, a sore back from my very heavy bag, and absolutely drenched. Nature pushed me and made me stronger, and I came out of the experience feeling refreshed (but, very glad to have cut it short). I encourage you to get out in all weathers, the results are rewarding! 

With our busy lives and routines, it can often be difficult to make the time to unwind and connect with nature. But doing so has helped so many of our team with their mental health and creative mindsets, I’m not alone!

Here are my five top tips on connecting with nature and yourself:

  1. Create a list of nature spots close to your home that are free from noise, traffic, and people. Check cycle paths, hills, woods, golf courses etc. Go to one of these spots every day during the day, alternating between them
  2. Take a flask, a snack, and go somewhere nice in the evening after work – do what you would be doing at home, but outside. 
  3. Make it social. Invite a friend along, or switch evening pub drinks to watching the sunset.
  4. Plan holidays in rural areas
  5. Get off your phone when you are in nature to maximise the benefits

It’s on you now!
I hope I have inspired you to spend more time outdoors in nature. The natural world around us all is what enables our existence, it is what we come from, get back to it!

At GearedApp we encourage all of our team members to take time away from their screens and do what makes them feel fulfilled and inspire creativity, so we are able to bring our clients’ app and web projects to life. Read more about our recent case studies, or Get in touch today to find out how we can help turn your awesome ideas into a digital reality.