I've challenged myself to produce more work in 2012 and I must admit, I've already come up against a big time waster: 'faffing'. I'm sure every artist must do this; I guess it can also be called 'prep' or 'getting in the zone' and I'm sure it can involve a lot of different rituals, in order to 'properly' get down to work.
For me, 'faffing' consists of tidying. I'd tidy my whole room before every work session if I wasn't strict with myself. I find it harder to work with my bed unmade, or if I have a huge pile of laundry to put away, or if I haven't hoovered for a while...but is that really true, or is it just a way of putting off painting?
In the same way I'm convinced I can't work unless I have some form of entertainment set up, whether that be an audio book, tv, youtube or even a film to watch. But have I ever tried working without these (lets face it) distractions?
For me at least, I always have this feeling, I can only describe it as a "pull", which pulls me away from work, and gets me unnecessarily focused on the small things - on cleaning my room and 'prepping' my environment. I'm not in any way trying to suggest that prepping for work isn't necessary or even a little bit enjoyable - but I'm finding it more and more crucial to find the line between necessary and unnecessary.
Unnecessary faffing is caused by fear. Fear pulls me away from starting a new project, or finishing an old one - because I'm scared today will be a 'bad' day, and I wont achieve what I want, and it will all look like an awful mess. Faffing is my way of coping with the fear of failing; very often the scale of faffing reflects on how big a failure I'll feel if the project goes wrong - sometimes I will faff for DAYS when a big project is due.
For now, I want to concentrate on small scale faffing, and how I can shave time off this activity and get more illustration work done. I want to look back on this year and be proud of the work I've produced, and in order to do that I must face my demons - starting with the 'faff monster'.
Some tips, henceforth:
- Learn your method of 'faff'. Are you a cleaner like me? Or do you require constant refreshments, and subsequent tv watching?
- Recognise when you are most likely to faff. Is it when you're stressed? When you're distracted?
- Be honest with yourself - do you really need all of your pre-work rituals?
- Keep an eye on the clock - if you must faff give yourself a strict time limit.
- Give yourself regimented breaks - faff during this time eg. if you can see your unmade bed in the corner of your eye, tell yourself you will sort it in your break. If you see how much it then wastes your break time, you can better understand how it cuts into work time.
As for now, the real question remains: are you all sick of the word 'faff' yet???
I'd love to hear your pre-work rituals, and whether you consider them necessary or not. Can you cut anything out today? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!