Winding down April and heading into the late spring and summer, I find myself two thirds of the way through my sabbatical and very much assessing where I am and what I have left to accomplish before the fall. Last September, when first faced with so much unstructured time, I quickly learned that I would have to establish a schedule and set of daily habits to make sure I stayed on track to accomplish a list of professional and personal goals. Working with weekly, monthly, and quarterly tasks, I wanted to make sure not to squander the opportunity to research, write, and spend time deeply engaged in my own projects before going back to my teaching and administrative duties. And while I have indeed deviated from my initial roadmap as the course of life, together with unexpected events, obstacles, and new opportunities have kept me on my toes, I have come to value a set of "minimums" that I look to do weekly and have managed to check many tasks off my list.
I was thinking of this as I struck up a conversation with a newly graduated art student who recently realized for the first time that they will have to replicate something of the structure that art school provided them when establishing an art practice away from university. It is certainly not easy, and with the multitude of digital distractions and draws on individual's time today (not to mention, the call of summer!), the challenge is very real. One resource that I recommended to them, and have found especially helpful this past year, is Cal Newport's book Deep Work: Rules For Focused Success in a Distracted World. Newport distinguishes his approach by discussing strategies that are not only geared to finding the time to accomplish goals and build routine and structure into one's life, but also focused on helping harness the mental state of deep focus, concentration, and flow, that drives creativity and productivity. In fact, one of the most important things I learned from Deep Work is the importance of boredom and open reflection in accessing focus and the ability to generate new ideas. I hope some of you find the book helpful and wish you every success in meeting your summer (and long term) goals. Enjoy the links!
- Dirty Words: Emerging
- Who Is to Blame for Kanye West's MAGA Hat?
- Feeling Anxious? You’re Not the Only One
- Losing Myself in the Paintings of Facebook-Educated Matthew Wong
- Whirling Mechanical Precisionism
- “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Let the Sunshine In”
- 'The dirty truth': Wim Wenders will defend 3D to the end
- Inside the Handmade Sketchbooks of a Well-Traveled Artist
- Answering The Art History Questions You Never Thought to Ask (PODCAST)
- The light of democracy — examining the Statue of Liberty (VIDEO)