To choose art means to turn one’s back on the world, or at least on certain of its distractions.
Deb and I have spent more time than usual these last few weeks in the cave. At Blue Sun Studio, The Cave is where we hang the DO NOT DISTURB sign so we can do our genius work—and concentrate without the distractions of the busy work of our day-to day-tasks. In The Cave, we are learning, sharpening, visioning, creating, tweaking. We are working ON our business, not so much IN our business.
Being an entrepreneur is in large part, a task-oriented business. If we are doing well, there are always more things on the to do list than there are minutes in a day. If we aren’t doing well, let’s just say, there are STILL more things to do, and maybe even more. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that to GET more, we have to DO more.
Sometimes, it’s just the opposite. To GET more, we have to slow down more, sharpen, grow, think, vision, and take the time to actually create. Talking about creating isn’t creating. It’s dreaming. Creating is an action step.
So for the last two weeks there has been retreat time, visioning time, learning time, which has all led to more creation time.
Do you have a Business Cave?
Of course, for those of you who are very visual, there isn’t really a deep, dark, dank Batman Cave at Blue Sun Studios where we work. It’s only a figure of speech. In fact, my office is bright and sunny, with water fountains and inspirational music playing in the background and my three dogs under my feet. The reason we call it The Cave is to remind us to let go of ALL distractions, close off the world, shut ourselves away and focus.
It isn’t easy. In fact, it’s pretty darn hard. But we have discovered a set of Cave Rules that helps to make Cave time much more successful. I thought, since my extended period of Cave time is fresh in my mind, that this might be a good time to share.
Five Rules for Cave Success
Shut off Distractions: It’s called The Cave for a reason. That means no cell phone, no IM, no e-mail popping up that demands a response, no friends popping over unexpectedly for a surprise lunch. For some of us, that means our best Cave time might very well be 5:00 a.m. before the kids are out of bed and demanding Cocoa Puffs, but choose the times that mean the least amount of interruptions. The entire point is to be FOCUSED.
Set Great Expectations: Let family, friends and co-workers know about The Cave. Explain to them your need for a certain period of focused, uninterrupted genius work. Set firm, habitual, disciplined schedules and stick to them. Believe me, they get it. They even may respect you more for it. They probably wish they had it too. They just haven’t figured out how to implement it into their daily strategy. While you are explaining, remind them that when you come back out of the Cave, you will be able to give them your undivided attention because you won’t be distracted by nagging, stressful work hanging over your head. The Cave benefits everyone.
Spend Quality Non-Cave Time with Loved Ones: Quality non-Cave Time makes Cave Time guilt-free. Especially when loved ones are first getting used to the idea of our new Cave habit, they may have a tendency to feel rejected or take our withdrawal from the social demands of our relationships personally. After all, for many of us, social media has become a way of life and an instant pudding knee-jerk reaction. We have a tendency to expect an immediate response to our comments or questions and can wonder if we have offended or are no longer liked if we are confronted with silence. Reminders and quality, focused after-cave interactions will go a long way to getting Cave support from those around you and relieve your inner Cave guilt. Remember, taking things personally is ALWAYS an illusion. And it’s always about the other person. Don’t allow guilt and other people’s expectations to keep you out of the Cave.
Set Time Limits: The Timer is your Friend in The Cave. You don’t want to train them to leave you alone and then have them sending in Search & Rescue! Once you do get on a roll and in the Zone with your new found focus, you may be amazed how much work you can get done! In fact, time can be a very slippery and fluid thing in The Cave and before you know it, hours have slipped away without you moving from your spot, no food, no fluids and you suddenly have no idea why you are weak, dizzy, have a headache and it’s dark outside! When someone finally does interrupt you, you gaze at them as if they are a total stranger, not quite sure why their lips are moving, but you aren’t hearing a single word…( um…can you tell I speak from experience on this one?) Trust me, get used to setting a timer and taking planned breaks. Your body and your creativity will thank you.
Sharpen the Saw: Stephen Covey’s seventh habit is an absolute must here. The practice of taking the time to renew your own physical, spiritual and mental resources to keep yourself fully charged in order to do your very best focused work, can not be over emphasized. There is nothing worse than carving out Cave time, only to stare blankly at the computer screen or page because there isn’t enough fuel in your creative tank to produce. Taking care of your Muse and your Genius within, is a critical part of successful Cave time.
The Illusion of False Loves: Diffuse the Distractions. We are all bombarded with illusive distractions in our fast paced, media driven lives that steal away our creative energy. Artists and Creators have been dealing with them since the beginning of creation. Don’t squander Cave Time with false loves, busy work, social media, detours, and one million great ideas that haven’t met their ideal time yet. In order to keep from doing that, you need clarity. You need your WHY and your VISION hanging at the forefront at all times.
You don’t have that yet? Then it is a darn good reason to get in your cave and discover it.
And if you need help, we are here to help you with your clarity, vision and mindsets! Just holler and we will be there. (As soon as we come out of The Cave.)