Seems like a crazy thing to say… put the lens cap on. Lens caps make taking photographs impossible. They don’t let any light in. Maximum Density Filters ya know. They keep the lens clean and don’t let images be made unless the photographer wants them to be made.

But I am not talking about putting the lens cap on your camera… I am talking about putting the lens cap on your world… and controlling what comes in. Strictly and with absolute certainty… OK, with as much control as you can manage anyway. It is a noisy world out there, and so much of it is designed to keep us busy without letting us get stuff done. The lens cap on your world means you don’t have anything that distracts you and you control your input.

A few questions for you (and me).

How many times do you check your email during the day? How many times does that email that you are answering impact your life? How many minutes or hours are spent twittering, or facebooking (Mafia Wars and some farm thing seem to be very popular) or simply reading stuff you already know? Be honest. And be aware. Now write down how much income was made from those pursuits… number of emails vs number of gigs. Scary, eh.

How many TV shows do you watch a day? Other than “Burn Notice” and “The Closer”, there ain’t much else on (heh). Ask yourself if watching more than an hour of TV a day makes you better than your competition. I doubt the answer would be yes. And remember that many of your competitors are shooting and editing and showing their book while Oprah and House reruns take your attention.

I am not trying to sound like an ass, but we spend too much time simply spending time, not using time. Only have so many hours a day that we can spend working and being creative, and the hours we lose are lost. Forever.

What would it mean to our creative lives to start to prioritize the things we do into “need to” and “want to”. Want to things are many times the time wasters. Need to things are things that must be done. There is a heck of a difference between the two. Focusing our day on what needs to be done can lead to more shooting time.

Try this… or as much of this as you think you can handle for the addicted among us.

Email: check in morning, right after lunch, hour before end of day.
Twitter: using TeetDeck or any similar product, create columns of your most interesting folks and check them out for a few minutes 4 times a day. Then turn it off so the little ‘tweet’ sound doesn’t keep following you.
Facebook: Look, if you aren’t marketing but have time to play Mafia Wars, I think you need to check some priorities. Evening for 1/2 hour to get caught up.
Phone: We need to remember how to use that thing… it has been left to its own and has become a huge time waster toy… and all that is good, but, DAMN, folks. Voice mail is good.

The point of this? To get more photographs shot. More editing of them and more images into our books and portfolios and projects. I have been talking to too many photographers who aren’t as busy as they would like to be, but are not doing anything about their situation, or taking advantage of the opportunity given them.

Opportunity? Hell yeah.

If you aren’t shooting for someone else, you have time to shoot for yourself. I hear that is what so many want to do. Do it. Create a project, and finish it. Create something to Tweet about. Create something that you can use to show AD’s on your next visit. Make it yours. Make images that you want for your own creative endeavors… and show everyone what you are doing. So instead of looking at the slower periods as disaster, look at them as opportunities to grow.

Have you done a Blurb book yet? If you didn’t watch TV for two weeks, that extra time could have been a Book of your personal images. Or portraits of your kids. Or that migration project you have been working on for a few years… whatever. It would be a book. Your book. And all you had to do was put the lens cap on your world, and focus on what needs to be done. The book needs to be done, the TV wants to be watched. Easy.

Controlling your world means getting a hold of your time, and channeling that time toward endeavors that will grow your work, book and stature. And it has the advantage of opening up more time for those family things… so you can be right there and all there.

Put the lens cap back on some of the things that are keeping you from shooting and working on your own images. Put it over the TV, and the talk radio and the forums and the other distractions aplenty. It won’t hurt a bit… well, maybe a bit, but the scars aren’t permanent.

I am not suggesting being a workaholic, and of course there are things that we can do to eliminate stress (I play my drums or the piano when I need some stress reliever), and there are things we just want to do. My personal distraction audit found some places that were draining my energy and sending back no reward. Continuing to do those things would be silly, don’t you think?

Putting the lens cap on the extraneous distractions may actually give us more real time to create, and more real time to enjoy!

See you soon, and you can follow me on Twitter if you like. I occasionally take the lens cap off and have a few things to say. 😉 You can leave comments here.

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