I haven't updated on here in a while. In fact since the 7th of July, bar uploading one picture today. When I started the blog I fully intended to put out 1 - 2 articles a week. I originally planned on doing this for a number reasons, some well meant and some others misguided. Let me elaborate. Writing about my process and my thoughts on creating images for the most part helps me understand my own pictures more than anything else. The act of having to look into my entire workflow and explain it in a simplistic way that could be read by anyone allows me to learn about why I make the decisions I do and the rational or irrational thoughts behind them. For all intents and purposes the blog is a way for me to understand myself more as an artist and as a person.
Initially I stopped writing because I believed I didn't have any spare time to do it, or so I thought. I put it down to being a working photographer, running a studio and also starting another business. Those reasons above are partially true, however the main reason was I didn't prioritise it. I didn't set aside time to do it. It's that simple.
Recently I decided I would take a look at how I manage my time more closely. Luckily I downloaded an amazing app called Rescue Time over a year ago and installed it on my computer. Rescue time basically monitors all the activity that you perform on your computer and creates reports for you to see how you are managing your time. I logged into Rescue Time for the first time tonight in a long time, probably the best part of a year, and I'll be honest I'm pretty shocked at how I've been using my time.
But before we get to that, let's jump back a little. On Christmas Eve I decided to quit social media*, namely Instagram and Facebook**. The reason, it was distracting me, taking up to much of my time and I wasn't able to get into a good flow state with my work without some notification, message, like or reminder popping up on my screen. This isn't to say that I was hugely popular on Social Media because I wasn't. I had around 6000 followers on Instagram, which I used primarily as a platform for sharing my work and my personal Facebook page wasn't really used for anything. It quickly dawned on me that I used social media as another method of procrastination which I rationalised by telling myself it was okay as everyone else is doing it too. A week prior to quitting I realised that Social Media wasn't bringing me any pleasure it wasn't connecting me to people. In fact it was doing the opposite it was stressing me out and making me feel more alienated and distant from people than I had been before. Instagram lost its appeal when became another platform to showcase my work. I know that sounds stupid but I felt this constant pressure to upload new work all the time and stressed out when I didn't have anything new to post or something that was not consistent with the visual language I had created there.
I want to be clear on something before I go any further: I don't think social media is bad, after all it is a tool so cannot be bad, or that Instagram is a bad platform to showcase your work. There are many success stories that come from Instagram for instance the work of Devin Allen to name but one. However at the moment I found I was spending more time looking at the work of others, one to two hours cumulatively over the course of the day, instead of creating work of my own. One to two hours a day doesn't sound like a lot but this just wasn't one day this was every day for at least a year. I wanted to know how much time I was wasting so I did the math, if spent an average of 1.5 hours a day on instagram over the course of a year that'd be... wait for it.......574.5 hours! Which is nearly 24 full days! let me say that again 24 DAYS! Now, this is instagram alone, this doesn't include any other time spent on facebook or any other social media on my phone.
And this is what led me to look at Rescue Time again. If I was spending 24 full days on my phone each year on Instagram alone how much time would I be wasting on looking at other stuff on the internet?
560 hours of Very Distracting time have been logged in RESCUE TIME! This is what I was greeted with when I logged into Rescue Time. Very distracting time as you can imagine counts as time spent on youtube, VLC, Netflix, Facebook, Shockmansion ect. I was spending pretty much the same amount of time on my computer doing nothing as I was on Instagram, 23 days to be exact. So lets add up the numbers. Combined I have spent 47 days wasting my time.....over a month! Let's put this in perspective the movie Whiplash was filmed in 19 days and won three Oscars! The makers of Whiplash could have shot the film twice over and still had nine days to relax after.
So the real question is, what do I do with this information and more importantly with this time now? Simple stop wasting time and actively use this new time to improve as a photographer, write blog posts and spend more time reading and be consciously diligent in my practice of photography. Now I have cut out social media I have in effect have gained 47 days to actively improve as a photographer. And to stop myself falling off of the wagon again I have created challenges and tasks that I have to adhere to for at least the next year. I have also created rules in Rescue Time where I have to log at least, the bare minimum of nine hours a day of Very Productive Time and under two hours of Very Distracting Time. So far today as I sit and write this I have logged 6h 44minutes of Very Productive time which is a start.
Recently I've been reading a book called So Good They Can't Ignore You. In the book the Author Cal Newport discusses Steve Martin's approach and improvement to excellence. To give you some back story Steve Martin spent 10 years alone refining his stand up routine which became so well known and respected that it basically got him to where he is today. In the book the author says
"In his memoir, Martin expounds on this idea when he discusses the importance of “diligence” for his success in the entertainment business. What’s interesting is that Martin redefines the word so that it’s less about paying attention to your main pursuit, and more about your willingness to ignore other pursuits that pop up along the way to distract you. The final step for applying deliberate practice to your working life is to adopt this style of diligence."
So far social media has not aided me in me becoming a better photographer, in fact i've allowed it to distract me from my main focus of improving and in effect stunted my growth. In any other aspect of my life I would not allow myself to waste 47 days on something that doesn't help me improve, grow or provide me with any pleasure. So why why would I let this either?
** I don't really use Twitter, Snapchat, Periscope or Tumblr so these hold little to no draw for me.
**I have a dummy Facebook account which has no friends and is only used to manage the business pages I operate.