One of the challenges of maintaining a creative practice is keeping focused in the studio; it can seem like daily life is constantly pulling us in other directions. This podcast was recorded before the COVID 19 pandemic, and for many artists, focus has become more important than ever as a way to lose ourselves in our work. Yet even if we have time to work, it can still be difficult to find a rhythm and path to follow.
Merriam Webster Dictionary defines focus as “a point of concentration, or a state or condition permitting clear perception or understanding. As a verb, to concentrate attention or effort.” Focus is a powerful force that brings with it excitement and momentum. It is also a relative term,; perfect focus during studio time is an ideal state that is not easily, if ever achieved. But there are strategies to limit distractions and increase our ability to focus.
For many people, this starts with organizing a to-do list, then setting priorities and a schedule. While this kind of organizing works, it needs to be considered in light of your own work habits and energy levels, and also should include the othernon-art related things you need and want to do. In aiming for a holistic, integrated view of your time, you can count on your studio hours while not neglecting other aspects of life.
A key to fthis approach to focus is giving smaller blocks of time to specific activities. While many of us cling to the idea of an 8-hour workday as ideal, in fact most people take about 15-20 minutes to achieve focus and enter a flow state, and then can maintain productive work for only a few hours. So your blocks of studio time, and the time given to other aspects of life, should be whatever works best for you, not the length of time you think you "should" be working at them. By working intensely for a few hours, then shifting to something else, your time can be more productive and energized.
Focus is so often thwarted by outside forces, some of which are beyond out control, and some of which we can limit by asserting our needs as artists. These distractions may be internal as well, however. Sometimes it is difficult to separate outside factors from internal struggles. It can be easy to blame yourself when you go off track, but be kind to yourself. We're affected by everything that happens in our lives, and there will be times when focus is elusive, another of the many ups and downs of the art life.
If you;re struggling with focus, consider what works best for you, rather than trying to attain an ideal. Making some changes in that direction can ease your mind and allow focus back into your art practicve.
The Messy Studio Pocast is a CORE Publication MGMT Production.