Minimizing Distractions

One of the biggest obstacles I face in my efforts to learn to create art is the large number of distractions. There are so many good, interesting things to see and do. So many things compete for my time.

It is difficult to realize how much time you spend on little things. I recently spent a few weeks not using social media. I didn’t think I really spent much time on social media before those two weeks.

Yet, I found I suddenly had enough time to add the things to my schedule that I had been struggling with for weeks. I was sure that once the two weeks were over, I would spend less time on my phone and my struggles would be over. Unfortunately, this wasn’t true.

Social media isn’t the only thing competing for my time. There are good books to read. There are all the housekeeping chores that are never completely done. There is food to eat, emails to answer, and walks to take. My children and husband need attention too. Outside my home there is a world of additional commitments and distractions.

In the face of all of this, how is it possible to do any of this at all? How can I keep the commitments I make to myself, when those seem to be the easiest ones to break? To do lists only go so far.

One thing that has helped is setting aside an art area that is clean of any distractions. If I can sit down at my art desk, then at least there is nothing there actively competing for my attention. Of course, the phone could still ring or my husband or children could still come find me.

Luckily, there are times of day that this is less likely to occur. If I work during those times, there aren’t as many distractions that seek me out. I can sit at my art desk and know that I can work with less chances of being pulled off task.

Of course, making sure that I have that time means that I have to plan ahead. I need to try to keep that time free on my schedule. It’s not always possible. When it isn’t, I need to plan another time to do my art, so that it still can get done.

It also helps to plan ahead of time what I will be doing. I have lists of prompts and ideas. If I choose one ahead of time, I can think about it while I’m doing other things. Mindless chores without other distractions are a great time to plan out pictures and stories. So are showers, and right before bed, and when I’m walking. If I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep, that’s a great time. I often tell myself stories to get to sleep.

If I sit down at my desk with an idea already mostly worked out, at a time of day when I work best and outside distractions are minimal, I am quite likely to get something done. I’ve stacked the odds in my favor. I’m not quite sure how to do that in the rest of my life yet. I’m still experimenting. There is a time and a place for all of the good, interesting things. I just need to figure out how to not let them take over so much of my time.

What things distract you from creating art? What do you do to minimize distractions? What other obstacles do you face on your artistic journey?