“STIMULATION + CURIOSITY – TIME = DISTRACTION”
It’s hard sometimes to keep your brain stimulated in a society that consistently aims to distract. Wake up, grab coffee, look at the news, look at the weather, look at your phone, look at your emails, look at the news, watch some YouTube, look at your phone, look at the time, two hours of the day has already passed. This type of distraction has really taken a toll on my mental agility. I used to be good at waking up and getting things done. I used to be good at keeping on task, staying focused, and waiting for my reward of time at the end of the day to fill with recreational tasks. Somewhere down the line, I have found things that I used keep good track of, slowly work their way into the realm of distraction. I’ve justified these interruptions for a bit, thinking that they were important to the larger scheme of things. “I’m Instagramming because I need to increase my social presence” is fine and dandy – until you’re scrolling through some old friends page trying to find out when they got engaged. It’s these types of behaviors I find turn into tremendous procrastinations down the line. Fortunately, I think it’s part of the creative experience.
There are a lot of things that they don’t teach you in Art school. For one, I didn’t go to art school, I went to business school. Secondly, I dropped out. But thirdly, they don’t teach you how to deal with running into a creative wall. When you have deadlines and clients waiting for your answer to their creative ineptitude, running into mental blocks can be disastrous. Furthermore, trying to squeeze creativity to out of your cerebral cortex when you’re clearly blank in the slate, is much like trying to have sex when you’re not in the mood. You might be able to work it out, but it’ll be nothing but a strain, and no one will enjoy it. But we’re all put into scenarios like this and learning how to deal with these hurdles is more of a skill that needs to be honed, and not a consequence of profession.
Time is usually your wandering brains worst enabler. When there’s tons of time, you procrastinate and find terrible ways to micromanage recreations into your productions. On the flip side, when there’s not enough time, you scramble and claw at any sort of normative brain function you might have left. Managing time wisely and attentively allows you to schedule out your work, but more particularly your entertainments. As creatives, we often work for ourselves. A luxurious aspect of a difficult and competitive career path that we always take for granted. Therefore, managing our own times and deadlines are vital to our success. But we often suck at it. Unfortunately, I’m here to tell you that this is something we both need to work harder at. It’s impossible for us to administer enough effort to do the things we need to do while also constantly being tugged by the strings of distraction. The best artists and creatives are successful because they manage their time the best. I find that planning my day, to a T, helps me keep my hobbies at the end of the day as a reward for getting what I needed done. Often, when I’m wrapped up in the moment of my work, the distractions need to work much harder to shake me from my trance. So, making sure my day is jammed packed with work, with not much time for my brain to wander, allows me more time to zone-out and get shit done.
THE BEST CREATIVES ARE SUCCESSFUL BECAUSE THEY MANAGE THEIR TIME THE BEST
I also want to touch on the type of distractions we might have. Some are more potent than others. Social media, for myself, is usually something I can easily pull away from. Whereas, a few rounds in Destiny 2 can quickly turn into pushing off an entire day of tasks. We all have our vices – video games are mine. But some distractions can actually be helpful. Reading the news is something that can actually be productive for me. A breaking story can turn into an inspiration for a brief article on the site. Catching up on emails allows me to catch up with clients that I might’ve missed. The point I’m getting to is about taking advantage of our compulsions can lead to a more productive, and ultimately more enjoyable, work experience. As humans, we will always need some type of stimulation to keep us focused. Distractions are distractions because they provide a temporary boost of stimulation from an otherwise banal workflow. Trying to completely remove them from our lives is a preposterous hope. We are good at adapting though, and being able to replace harmful distractions with more productive ones is easily doable. Therefore, instead of diving into a few Crucible matches in Destiny 2, I’ve traded that for reading a few articles from The Post, saving that for a more rewarding time. This has done wonders in my workflow, and I urge you to look at your biggest time-sinks and tweak them to fit your production output.
So, combining good time management skills with a habit of distracting myself with more constructive interference, I’ve been able to effectively put out much more quality work at a much higher pace. It honestly baffles some of my clients and customers. They wonder how on earth I am able to juggle all these seemingly time-consuming tasks, on top of my recreations, and on top of my personal life, all while still having enough time in the day to tend to my fiance and sleep. I still think there’s a lot more room for improvement and more tweaking I can do to my workflow to make it even more productive. But, I am happy with the level of creation and attentiveness I can give to my assignments. So, I urge you to take a look at your distractions and making them work for you. You might find it as beneficial as me, or at the very least, be able to play a bit more video games in your day.