As I write this, my iMac, Wayne Newton, is in the shop. He’s a 27″ iMac, and the blank space where he usually sits seems huge—an expanse of nothing where usually there is Everything: my calendar, my file cabinet, my clock, my reference library, my assistant, my proofreader, my mailbox, my phone (Skype), my movie theater. You get the picture: my computer is pretty much my whole work life, there in one machine. He hasn’t been gone even 24 hours yet, but he’s been Having Issues for a while, and in struggling with those, I’ve realized just how much I depend on Wayne Newton. And also how much time I spend with him. You need to look up a word. Once upon a time I had a dictionary in every room. Now? Now I think I have one on a shelf in the bookcase, but who uses an actual dictionary? You need to check if an artist is going to be out of town on a specific date. Once upon a time, you would have picked up the phone and called them. Now you check your shared calendar or Facebook or their calendar on their blog or website.
I could go on and on with examples, but here’s what I’d like to think about: how much time do we spend on computers and iPads and smart phones that we don’t really *have* to spend? Not counting the work we do—writing and blogging and updating our website and uploading photos—how much extra time are we spending? I’ve discovered in the last 24 hours that the answer is: a bunch. Although I have this MacBook and an iPhone and can work from either, I’m not spending time on Pinterest or Facebook, checking websites or blogs or photos. Why? Because it’s not as easy. It’s not automatic. The screen isn’t as big. The response is slower. For whatever reason, it’s more work to be online, so I’m just not. That’s when I realized that almost everything I do on the computer that isn’t specifically about work is stuff I do automatically. When it becomes un-automatic—when my regular computer isn’t sitting in its usually spot—I don’t do nearly as much checking and browsing and surfing. I have—gulp—more time. I get more done.
So I was thinking that the solution others have offered is maybe a really good one: if you’re trying to get more time in the studio and less time online, the easiest way to start that might be to make it more difficult to get online. Move your computer to a less-accessible spot, or at least out of the studio. Turn it on only at a specific time during the day (Wayne Newton is on all the time, every day, all year long). If you find you have a really severe problem pulling away, you can take a more drastic step: cancel your online service provider and rely on publicly available Wifi, so that you have to leave the house and go somewhere to surf. Yes, it’s drastic. But if you find you’re spending so much time online that you’re getting very little work done in the studio, sometimes drastic is the only way to go.
For more ideas about making more time in the studio, check out Creative Time and Space: Making Room for Making Art.
Ricë is the author of Living the Creative Life, Creative Time and Space, and Destination Creativity. She also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.
MORE RESOURCES FOR MIXED MEDIA ARTISTS
* Find great books, DVDs, downloads & more for mixed media artists!
* Sign up for your FREE email newsletter for great tips, projects & more…
* Download free mixed media desktop wallpapers!