Back in December, 2017, I participated in a study for a new book. I had been following professor and author, Cal Newport and his concept of “Deep Work”- the idea that we can only create and study things in a deep way when we clear away our distractions and commit serious time to focusing on tasks that matter. Prof. Newport is working on a new book, and part of his research for this book involved organizing a digital declutter to see what would happen when people decided to step away from some modern technologies. The rules of the declutter were simple. We participants would take a break from optional technologies, like social media, for one month. At the end of the month we would slowly re-introduce those technologies and decide what worked in our lives.
I jumped right in and decided no social media for a month. I actually LOVED my time away from those distractions. I had a reason to not look at anything on any social media platform. “Sorry, I didn’t see that post. I am on a digital declutter!” My mind was quite serene without those intrusions. In my time away, I decided to focus my energy on things that had more meaning in my life, and the big ticket item for me was my art. We had recently moved an had total life upheaval, and for me finding time to work on art was simply not happening. I spend most of my days teaching yoga, so the art making wasn’t not forefront in my daily tasks. I decided to use the declutter to re-focus and my energy and commit to art making.
That focus shifted everything. Art making and creativity opened up for me again the way it did before I even had children! I started the daily art desk journal where I made a blog post about the surface of my art desk every day, for several days, and with a body of work again I was able to book several art shows. I was super focused! Since then, I have let some social media back into my life, but I have set strong rules around it. Only a few times a week, never for more than 5 minutes at a time, no longer than 15 minutes per week. I am doing well following that. I have found a renewed focus and love of art making that you can see here on this website.
And a fun addition… Prof. Newport quoted me in his most recent email. You can see his post HERE.
As all things, I need to tend to this focus every day. It is easy to be distracted by daily tasks as a working mom, wife, yogi, and artist. But now I have set a new habit of art making into my agenda. It takes priority over online and I work at it almost every day. As I sit at my art desk, I seek to improve my skills, and grow my creativity, and find inspiration in the many small things around me.
What do you hope to get good at, and how do you make the time for it?