Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cutting Out The Clutter

The sad, embarrassing truth about Monkey's forlorn desk..

Between the crazy-fast speed of the internet, television, movies, and video games, there are more than enough distractions to last a lifetime of lifetimes. Whether your are addicted to video games (like Monkey), television shows (regardless of how good they are), or anything else, you've got to get organized.

Notice we didn't say that you need to quit these things cold-tofurkey. Our brains need a break every once and a while, and nice distractions like Facebook or board games or the newest Xbox 360 title are great ways to tune off for a while. The danger lies when these distractions really take over and suddenly you've found that you've lost three hours playing Backyard Monsters on FB.

Monkey + Seal are big fans of having outlets - while you might rise to the top quicker if you shut out all things besides your craft, we're a big fan of stability, and the stereotype of the crazy artist who does nothing but draw might be romantic, we think it only works for certain people, and at a fairly large price. If it works for you, great, but if you're like us (and chances you are if you're reading this), this is going to be unsustainable.

So, what to do when you're trying to balance your day job, your art, and all these other crazy things. Oh yeah, and a social life as well. While we've already talked about how you can't actually multitask, the idea we want to present today is that you have to cut out the clutter.

We're not the tidiest people, and especially before a show our little Monkey + Seal cave gets totally covered over with art debris. However, the type of clutter we're talking about is the clutter of life.

Whether it's too many facebook games that you feel guilty about playing, or if its a messy room that distracts you while you're painting, or if it's your email inbox getting constantly full, chances are you're feeling like you need seven hands, or possibly a clone or two, to be able to handle it all. This is the clutter of life, and if you feel like we do sometimes, it is drowning your creativity.

The way out, the lifesaver, is order. Whether that means cleanliness to you, or having a rotting piece of roadkill hanging above your desk dripping black blood, whether it means waking up at 6am to write or maybe waking up at 7pm to start painting, order is whatever formula that works for you.

What we mean is that having some sort of routine (like always painting on Tuesday and Thursdays from 7pm-10pm, or making sure you have a cup of tea ready before you sit down to write), whatever it is, is super helpful to the process of creating. The hardest part about this method is that you have to stick to it. Willpower, like muscles, need to be exercised, and if you try to block off entire days every week, it might be a bit much. But, if you have a few hours set aside every week and you stick to them zealously, you'll eventually be able to increase the amount of time set towards your craft (if you so choose).

Alternatively, you can also use a timer to gauge how much time you spend on distractions. We have a handy-dandy little timer we got from a dollar store that we keep by our main computer so that we can say "We're only going to spend 15 minutes on emails," or "We'll only spend 20 minutes watching YouTube videos" or whatever sort of limits you need to set-up yourself. This way, you can focus on whatever distraction you want and then you'll have someone else watching over you to remind you when your time is up.

All in all, it isn't necessarily about eliminating fun things from your life, but it is about finding what's the right balance for you and to cut through the clutter so you can focus on your important work.