Art at Work: Multitasking + Creativity Recap (and why I’m switching sides – again)

A week of not multitasking: What I learned, what I loved, how it helped, and how it hurt.

A week of not multitasking: what I loved and why I'm switching back - again.  Artwork created this week by Emily Jeffords

Hello!

Well this is a rare occurrence!  A blog post on Saturday?  Crazy.

You may remember that on Monday we talked about multitasking and how horrid it can be for your creativity (based on the research of Clifford Nass)  and I decided to put that theory to the test.  Each day I worked in my studio I separated myself from my phone, iPad, and laptop.  I still had my two little girls with me, and of course, I still played music.  So it was certainly NOT a distraction free zone, by any means.  But that’s my life right now, and I love it!

As I mentioned on Monday, I am prepping for the renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn, NY (come see me, June 22-23!), which really means my fingers are working non-stop.  I have about four weeks, and so, so much to get done.   I figured this would be a great time to step it up into hyper-creative-mode, and if that meant divorcing my phone, so be it.

A week of not multitasking: what I loved and why I'm switching back - again.  Artwork created this week by Emily Jeffords

The biggest pro I experienced in my week of “mostly-single-tasking” was freedom.  I let go of the idea that I must be present everywhere at all times.  It was exciting and wonderful.  I was free to forget about everything but my work (and children, of course!)

The biggest con was that I often got completely lost in my work and forgot everything besides what I was working on.  Letting go of the online world was easier than I expected, but the online community is one of the most valuable assets I have in running this blog and my creative business.  I felt that I neglected that amazing support structure too often.   I get so lost in my creative head-space I lose track of time far to easily.

Total honesty: I am going to start multitasking again.  There.  I said it.  Dr. Nass is going to have a fit.
My business is developing too much for me to risk delaying, much less altogether, forgetting something of great value because I am too absorbed in my creative work.  I found it very difficult to make time for simple tasks like posting a photo, replying to comments, and sending emails.  There were days that I actually forgot about social media entirely. While this is a good thing at times (and I’m super glad to know that I actually can disassociate myself from my iPhone without a panic attack) it’s not good to neglect my readers, customer, friends, and colleagues because on my one-track-mind.    So from now on, my goal will be to multitask in moderation.  This “single-task” week has opened my eyes to the bondage that distractions had been on my life (on and offline).

All in all, I had a fantastic week.  It really was super productive.  The images you’re seeing are a little snapshot of the things I created this week.

Busy fingers, busy brain, happy life.

A week of not multitasking: what I loved and why I'm switching back - again.  Artwork created this week by Emily Jeffords

Not pictured:
– The spilled coffee… all over my work table. The tiny (two year old girl) fingers dipped in India Ink, finger painting on my almost completed landscapes
– The trial and error gild leaf experiments
– The hours of inventory (trust me, you don’t want to see me think through that)
– The fun times order more supplies
– The cutest studio mates in the whole world
– Their fresh stack of library books
– The spontaneous dance sessions
…and my sister!!! (She visited me this week and I might not ever let her leave.  Plus, she’s very good at polishing tiny jewelry parts.)

What are your thoughts on this whole multitasking/single-tasking concept?  Have you ever committed to not multitask?  What was your takeaway?  Any tips for the rest of us?

Have a happy weekend!

Come visit me at the Renegade Craft Fair!  Emily Jeffords Studio signature

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6 comments

  • The best advice that I heard regarding distraction was not total abstinence, but scheduling. For instance I like to check my email, social media, and other resources three times a day: in the morning as I get started, around lunch time, and before the end of the work day. This way I am forced to step away and take breaks, which is important for maintaining your energy, and prevents slavery to the constant flow of information or work.

    If it were not for this habit I would work through the day without regard to time or duty. Or, in the past I have given too much time to social media, distracting me from work. The point is, you have to pace yourself according to your abilities. You can’t get everything done, so prioritize. And leave room for fun or risk becoming dull – certain death for creatives. Everything in moderation, as you say. Including, sometimes, moderation.

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    • Fantastic advice. I thought about scheduling my time with an app on my phone, but that got to be to distracting for me! I do like the 3x a day idea. I’ll have to try that….

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  • I am definately a multi-tasker and rarely single task. I can definately see the benefits, though and am inspired to use moderation as you suggested. I am real big on prioritizing and make lists of what needs to get done first, second, etc;

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  • Scheduling works for me too. On my creative days I will have coffee and ipad before I get out of bed. Then spend my day making and return to ipad in the eve. My creative days are precious as I have to work part time to get a regular income as well. So easy to lose yourself in blogs emails etc but I see it as part of what I do and no way the most important.

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