Focus For a Minute
Sometimes it's hard to focus. I think it's because, even when I'm not in a rush, I am constantly trying to do many things at the same time. I'm realizing it's not more productive, it just feels more productive.
Like, right now for instance: I am writing a blog, but blogging is better with a snack so I've got some popcorn I'm munching! Oh, and I'm sipping some green tea. For the last hour, I've been flirtexting with a musician I just met, so every ten minutes or so my phone buzzes and I take a moment to think of something clever to write back. There's also a bunch of lyrics for a benefit I'm singing in swirling around in my head. I think I should go over them after I'm done with writing this blog. Or perhaps I'll run over the lyrics between paragraphs in the blog. Wait a second; my phone just buzzed...
Okay, and I just realized it's been about 20 minutes since I last checked Facebook. Okay, one more second please because checking Facebook is taking a bit longer than I planned. (Fifteen minutes pass.)
Okay, I'm back! So anyway, it's hard to focus. I feel like my attention span has been diminishing over the last few years, and I wonder if it's all technology's fault or if it's my fault for not keeping my monkey mind in check. I find myself not wanting to do laundry because that is at least two hours of time and who commits to anything for two whole hours?
I was having Dim Sum this weekend with some other famous Backstage contributors and bloggers and we chatted about the problem with being constantly connected. If you are a writer, actor, painter, or artist of any kind I think you need time to be still and really give your project at hand complete focus. You need to have some quiet time to sort out your thoughts and look at details. Plus, working on a project with no distractions is one of the best things about being an actor! It's why I love doing a show every night. Life pauses and a little nervous excitement throws you into super-focus.
As actors we are constantly connected to our e-mail and phone because we want to search new breakdowns. We want to get back to our agents and managers immediately. I know some actors and musicians who are able to tweet about every new project or thought every hour. But at the same time, if you are acting in a show that is two hours, you need to be able to give your full attention to those hours. This kind of focus is a muscle. I think my focus muscle needs a little exercise. Sometimes I have trouble giving my full attention to a five page audition scene. Sometimes I have several hours to work on an audition and at the end of the day I still feel like I've barely made a dent in preparing the material. I keep starting over because I remember something I wanted to Google search or my phone goes off.
This week I have a new little goal for myself: Focus. I'm gonna try to do just one thing at a time. No more eating, blogging, and flirting at the same time. It's sounds fun, but it's starting to drive me bonkers and my productive time is slipping away!!
To start, I had a rehearsal yesterday with my guitarist for the benefit I am doing tonight at Rachel's. I turned off my phone and computer completely, not just to silent. I tried my best to keep conversation about the songs we were working on and really give them full focus. Rehearsal was way more fun, and I feel like I paid attention to little details in my voice and glockenspiel solo (Yes, you read right: I wrote a glockenspiel solo for the song I'm singing tonight!) that I wouldn't have noticed had I been trying to Twitter about rehearsal and check my phone every time it buzzed.
I'm turning off the buzz and turning on the focus. I'm pretty positive it will make me a better artist and performer.
-- Emily Kinney