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The Unconventional Guide to Work

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Get inspired on your break – 10 websites to visit for a quick pick me up

You’re staring at your computer and the screen is blurring – colours are blending together, fonts are out of whack and sentences are merging into one big pixelated mess. Fatigue washes over you.

Mmm, sandwiches, you think.  

You blink, several times, but the fuzziness isn’t going away. You just need a burst of inspiration and a break. What do you do?

When I worked in a creative agency and we found ourselves hitting a wall we’d look for inspiration from most unconventional places. Whether it was an industry publication that was completely out of category, playing some left-field tunes or even deep diving into another project for a few days, you’ll find that the brain works in mysterious ways, gathering and storing stimulation from a variety of sources, all coming to good use when you least expect it and in the most incredible ways. And hey, the quality of content does matter...

Are you after something educational? Inspirational? Downright useful? I’ve compiled 10 of my favourite websites (in no particular order!) for your viewing pleasure.

01 – CreativeMornings

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I was lucky enough to be involved in the Auckland chapter of CreativeMornings (check out the interview they ran with me here). Run entirely by volunteers, CreativeMornings is a free breakfast lecture series for the creative community. Talks follow a global theme and feature a creative visionary or leader from the local community. A great way to start a Friday morning and meet some people, CreativeMornings was started by the pretty darn cool Tina Roth Eisenberg (more commonly known as Swiss Miss). Today the series is hosted in 140 cities around the world so you’ll likely find one near you! All the talks are recorded as well so you can easily watch the twenty-minute bite of inspiration over a cup of coffee, over lunch, or in the background as you run over that proposal for that super urgent thing you’re working on...

02 – 99U

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The brainchild of Scott Belsky (whose work has always been about empowering the creative community), 99U is another one of my favourite places to go for inspiration. You’ll find career advice and creative wisdom aplenty, in the form of videos/talks, interviews and articles. The website has recently had a re-vamp and if the new fluro blue isn’t too much for you, head on over and get inspired! Some places to begin:

03 – Fast Company

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Pretty much a staple in my inbox, Fast Company profiles the latest in business and innovation. Subscribe to any of their multitude of newsletters to gain access to thought-provoking, cutting edge thinking. The quality of writing is a bit hit and miss at times, but it’s a good place to know what the latest trends are in your industry.

04 – Medium

This is quickly becoming my favourite place to wander whenever I have some down-time. And boy, it’s easy to get lost in the rabbit hole of awesomeness. As the platform gains popularity, the quality and diversity of content is increasingly relevant, poignant and thought provoking. You choose the content you want to consume based on your interests. Follow some writers, engage in a discussion, and get some fresh perspectives. Some of my favourite writers include: Julie Zhuo (Product design VP @ Facebook), Ximena Vengoechea (Writer, design researcher and currently working @twitter) and Khoi Vinh (VP UX at Trywildcard.com, blogger at Subtraction.com, former design director at NYTimes.com)

05 – Product Hunt

Self proclaimed “geek nostalgia at its best”, Product Hunt is a great dashboard to check out the best new products out there including the latest mobile apps, websites, hardware projects, and tech creations.

06 – Kickstarter

Want to do some good in the world? Got some spare change? Why not help bring a creative project to life, something made possible by the good people at Kickstarter! The sheer audacity, boldness and creativity of some of the campaigns astounds me on a regular basis. You’ll pretty much find something to back whatever your interests are.

07 – Google Analytics ‘Real Time’

While Google Analytics does a great job analyzing past performance, Google Analytics Real-Time lets you see who is on your site right now. You can see the immediate impact to site traffic of any campaigns or social interaction, which pages or events they're interacting with, and which goal conversions have occurred. That real-time visibility will help you remember why you are in business in the first place!

08 – Women 2.0

Let’s just take a minute to celebrate girl power, the super sophisticated, chic, entrepreneurial kind. Because there just isn’t enough of that around! Women 2.0 strives to strengthen the technology businesses by connecting, inspiring and educating the next generation of technology leaders.

09 – First Round Review

Providing small business owners and individuals “insights to build great things”, the site covers a broad spectrum of topics across management, people and culture, product, women, engineering and marketing. It aims to liberate knowledge, inspire and accelerate action. Articles are hefty and detailed, and offer readers tactics they can use today to change their company or careers for the better.

10 – Brain Pickings

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This self-proclaimed “interestingness digest” is a great place to wander when you’re in search of some contemplative reading. Think big life questions, culture and life wisdom. Need some quotes? Check. Need a great reading list for later? Check. You’ll want to make sure you give the website “proper room for reflection” before you head over – it’s not really a ten minute break thing, it’s more like a lunch hour re-energising remedy.

Honourable mentions:

So I couldn’t quite keep it to a top 10. A sneak peek at a few extra goodies:

Designspiration and Niice.

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Okay, okay – I like looking at pretty things. Both sites above are great visual curators – search for anything and let the beauty roll over you. If you work visually, you’ll find visiting either site a great little mental boost.

TED

If you don’t know TED... well, it’s a good thing you’re reading this post! The great thing is you can chuck a pair of headphones on and listen to the talk in the background while you work.

Netted

Netted is all about helping readers use the Internet to master modern life in ways both big and small. It uncovers the online tools that make life better, easier, and more productive. The writing style is authentic and always tinged with a great sense of humour.

Prote.in

“Protein” for the mind, get it? Stylised, on point trend reports a curious mind and inspiration galore.

Calm

Calm is a simple mindfulness meditation app that brings clarity and peace of mind into your life. Meditation’s status is growing in mainstream popularity and Calm is an easy way to enjoy a slice of this amidst our busy world. You can either use the webapp or iOS app, and start making positive changes in as little as two minutes.

Hopefully this article has provided you with a great range of options on where you can go to broaden your horizons, discover some new content, have fun, immerse yourself into another world. Got any more to add to the list? We would love to know what you love reading – whether they’re business blogs or random inspiration. Also, if you’re after more industry-specific websites to browse, you’ll enjoy these blog posts we’ve written:

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