Monday, March 03, 2014

Much To Do About Everything

Ack! It's been almost a month!

I've been using a list to keep track of things I want to accomplish. It's been working great, except that I've begun to realize just how much stuff I've got to do. That can be overwhelming. I'm more productive, but I'm also feeling constant pressure to get my list worked down so that I can have some leisure time without feeling guilty. I suppose I could have leisure time scheduled on my list as well ....

Which reminds me about something Steven Barnes teaches. Several times a day, take a few minutes (I try to do two or three minutes but sometimes I only do 30 seconds) to just breathe. Focus on your breath, make sure the breaths are deep and even and calming. Try to put everything else out of your mind. I wouldn't recommend doing this while you're driving. The point is not to multi-task and belly breathe while you're doing something else. The point is to take a mental break.

I've been doing this and it really helps. For the fifteen minutes total it takes out of my day, it gives me back a restfulness that's worth more than a nap of twice that length, and without the guilt of 'lost time' or the grogginess. Plus, on days when I don't do it or just do a couple of cheater 30 second sessions, I notice I'm less productive. If I don't give my brain the total break-and-breathe treatment, my brain takes it anyway, usually in the form of playing Bejeweled for a far longer period than I would have taken with the breathing. Besides, the breathing focuses me and clears my head. Playing mindless games on my computer A. keeps me at the computer, so it's not a real break and B. with my brain occupied the whole time, I don't get any silent, non-visual, black time.

What's black time? I don't honestly know what goes on. But when I breathe deeply, with my eyes closed, and deliberately don't think about anything, ideas start to pop in my head. Maybe I connect with my subconscious. I'm not sure. I just know that I come out of black time with workable stuff to do, whereas when I'm done playing a round of computer games, I have to spend time getting back into the working groove.

Weirdly (or maybe not) watching really good movies, reading good books, or tuning into a well-written tv series puts my brain into a great creative space too. I think it puts me into a playful mood. Not just any playful mood, either. Maybe my brain sees people at play and develops a desire to play Let's Pretend too. It's not as good as black time, but it's still better than playing computer games. The art equivalent of watching good movies is visiting Inspiration Hut or surfing Pinterest. I also enjoy paging through design and art books.

There's a big difference between how I view work and inspiration now and how I approached it as a kid. As a kid, inspiration was something that just happened, and I had a tendency to either do nothing until an idea whacked me in the back of the head, or I sat down and tried to think hard, and then I'd go with whatever came first that didn't seem lame. Now it feels less random. It's still mysterious, but I know if I breathe deeply, and then start to doodle, or do this, or do that, the thing that I'll need will appear and I can start to shape the vision into reality. It's nice to get excited and feel inspired, but I don't have to wait for that feeling to arise first. That feeling will come if I head in the right direction. I might be uncertain when I start on something, but if it's a good idea, guaranteed I'll be sucked into the project within a few minutes and the time will just fly on by. When I'm there, I don't care how much work I have to do. When I'm there, work feels like a blessing, and I want to do it all.

No comments: