Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Great Trick to Stay on Task that I Learned Recently

For me, keeping myself working (painting) in my studio (but not working to the point of exhaustion, getting slap-happy,  fooling around, being distracted, finding other things to do, etc.) has always been a difficult matter.  It helped me tremendously when I recently created my studio and work only in it now instead of being inside the house - with all the distractions inherent in working where I live.  But I often found myself working/painting to a point that I wasn't staying focused on the "job" at hand.  Or I would get anxious about a particularly challenging spot in a painting and end up messing things up either in that area or elsewhere.  When I get really anxious about either an area I'm working on or an upcoming next level in the painting, I start to make a lot of stupid moves and often end up with a mess, which I then have to spend a much longer time correcting than if I had stayed focused the entire time.

Well, recently I read a post on Robert Genn's newsletter about using a timer to work in specific 25-minute time blocks on a painting, taking a short break, and then returning for another 25 minutes.  Everyone who commented on his post agreed that there was something perfect about the 25 minutes:  not too short, not too long.  I've always had a timer going when I worked, but I was erratic in the amount of time I set it for, and it ended up not working very well for me.  Plus, at that time, I was also in my house working, which as I've said before, just doesn't promote good work habits.

Well, now, thanks to my trusty timer on my smartphone, I set the timer for 25 minutes, work really efficiently for those 25 minutes, take a five to ten-minute break and do something like a bit of exercise, just move around a bit, go outside and take in some fresh air, have a drink of water, anything but paint.  Then I come back in and do more of the same.  As I have a lot of other work to do besides painting, I make myself paint three hours a day most every day (except weekends).  With this schedule, I'm able to produce a reasonable number of paintings in a month's time.  The rest of the time is spent doing what I'm doing at the moment, posting to my blog, photographing my work, creating listings here and there online, wherever I'm showing them at the time, reading up on what's going on in the world, playing with my granddaughter, visiting with my daughter, etc., etc.

Regarding other work ventures, I would imagine this 25-minute trick would work just as well, too.  I have heard of authors who are using it and are quite happy with it, saying their productivity and quality have improved.  I know it works for me, and it certainly is easy to apply and manageable.  It also, in my case, makes sure that I don't work tooooooo much in a day and end up burning out and not getting much done the rest of the days.

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