Ok, short story: I have fairly big art show coming up in oh, like, a month! I’m not freaking out (yet), but I am working very, very hard to get all the artwork completed and a full collection of jewelry ready.
So, Friday, I’m in the studio, my girls are napping, my table is covered in work, I am instagraming photos to keep people informed and excited, sending out a tweet or two, reading emails as they pop-up on my phone, thinking through replies in my head, checking facebook, drinking coffee, switching art projects constantly… and listening to NPR.
This is a totally, totally normal afternoon for me.
Well that got my attention real quick.
Wait, aren’t creative people wired to be amazing multitaskers? I know I am. right? Can’t our minds divide and follow multiple patterns at once? I mean, I can clearly do at least 3 things effectively at the same time… right?
Clifford Nast studied students at Stanford University (where he also teaches) and discovered that people who multitask consistently have a hard time filtering out irrelevancy, can’t manage their working memory, are always distracted, and, (the part that got my attention,) they are far worse at the creative thought process because they have trained their brains to be scattered.
Creativity is all about following a unique and intricate idea through to the end; finding relationships and combinations all along the way. As an artist, this means being present in all phases of the process, from the conceptualization to the tiny last details.
So, being the testy soul that I am, I decided to put my iPhone on the other side of the room, I turned down the screen to my laptop, and set to work. I really thought I would see very little difference in my productivity. Unfortunately, he was right. By getting rid of extra distractions I became free. My mind was able to focus. I was able to create. I didn’t feel that I had to check anything, I didn’t feel bored, and I accomplished at least 30% more work than typical.
But, how does this fit into life in 2013? We are so connected and many of us have to be very present online in order for our businesses to survive! Dr. Nass suggests taking a few moments thorough the day to hone in on those aspects of life. If you are going to check your emails, then do that. Twitter? Do that. You get to decide what is worth your time. Purposefully allocating that time lets you be focused, sharp, and in control of your mind.
I am going to be trying this all week and I expect to see amazing results. In fact, to hold myself accountable, I will do a follow-up post on Friday. I’ll share my thoughts, struggles, and show what I have accomplished.
I know this is an unusual concept for our highly “connected” society. I know it’s going to feel weird and I’m going to have to work hard at focusing, but I really think that controlling my mind will help me become a more effective communicator AND creator.
Care to join me? Maybe we will even take over the world with our super-focused-creative-minds…..