I am excited to begin discussing our first Book Club Book: “Manage Your Day-to-Day” edited by Jocelyn Glei
Today we will cover the first section of the book: Building a Rock Solid Routine. This section is filled with insights from creative experts about how they use a daily routine to be more productive and achieve long-term goals.
I have included some questions to think about as well as some overall action steps for establishing your personal routine.
Be sure to download your daily planner sheet from The Library so you can start implementing these strategies right away!
Section 1: Building A Rock Solid Routine
How to give structure, rhythm, and purpose to your daily work
"Laying The Groundwork for an Effective Routine" Mark McGuinness
“If you want to create something worthwhile in your life, you need to draw a line between the world’s demands and your own ambitions."
In his essay, McGuinness describes the building blocks of an effective daily routine. As it is now, many of us spend the majority of our day on “other peoples priorities” - answering emails, reviewing meeting notes, checking social media. When we start our days attempting to “clear the decks” and achieve inbox zero, we get to our own work by mid-afternoon and are so drained from the day that we accomplish little.
One way to combat this vicious cycle is to focus on “creative work first, reactive work second.” Use the times of day that you are most alert to tackle challenging, creative projects. Everything else can fit in the gaps between your creative work. McGuinness has a particularly chilling quote here: “It is better to disappoint a few people over small things, than to surrender your dreams for an empty inbox."
For the longest time I struggled with writers block, so I would push writing tasks to the end of the day. By the time I needed to sit down and write, I was so energy drained that nothing flowed. By coming to terms with the fact that I am most alert in the mid-morning, I spend my mornings writing and end up getting much more done each day.
“Harnessing the Power of Frequency” Gretchen Rubin
“a small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labors of a spasmodic Hercules” Anthony Trollope
In her essay, Rubin talks about the creative power of frequency. Doing creative work regularly makes it easier to start new things, come up with new ideas, and continue to be productive day after day.
Over the past few weeks my fiancee Patrick has been learning French through DuoLingo. Every day, he wakes up and does a few practice sessions before getting out of bed. I have to say that I am stunned at how fluent he is getting.
When we think about it, devoting only 15 minutes a day to a goal seems like we will never actually accomplish anything. But the reality is that for so many pursuits, especially creative ones, daily repetition is the key to success. Many lettering artists have done exactly this, posting a single word to Instagram everyday for a year.
“Honing Your Creative Practice” Seth Godin
Seth Godin has some great insights in this Q&A section, namely to treat your work as a daily “practice.” As creatives it is important that we have a daily routine that helps us to work even when we are feeling uninspired. One of the key differences between a productive and an unproductive creative is that productive creatives push through creative blocks. Sitting around and waiting for inspiration to strike will lead to a wasted career.
This idea of pushing through creative blocks is especially interesting to me. Today we say “This person IS a genius” but historically the phrase has been “This person HAS a genius.” The implication is that a muse is something outside of yourself and you can talk to it; you can tell it to inspire you; you can have a conversation with it. You are not an empty vessel waiting to be filled with inspiration, you must actively seek out your muse and harness it.
Godin also talks about overcoming fear; fear of vulnerability, fear of criticism, fear of failure. If we succumb to these fears we sabotage ourselves. Sometimes the only way forward is to jump into the deep end and realize that you can swim after all.
“Building Renewal Into Your Workday” Tony Schwartz
“Can you imagine working the way you do now for the next ten or twenty years?”
With an ever-increasing amount of technology, demands on our time now regularly exceed our capacity. Knowing this, it is especially important that we organize our days around the things that are truly important to us - family, sleep, creative work. We must also actively resist the unnecessary things that demand our time. Is it absolutely necessary to check Facebook another time today? Can you get back to someone in a few hours rather than immediately?
“Making Room for Solitude” Leo Babauta
In his essay Babauta talks about the importance of solitude; moments where we can be alone with our thoughts and free from the constant barrage of notifications.
- Do you have a daily routine?
- How easy/difficult is it for you to get creative work done?
- What is one of your long-term goals?
- Can you break that goal into small daily tasks?
- What are the things holding you back from achieving your goals?
- Are you afraid of criticism?
- Do you wait for inspiration to come to you or do you push through creative blocks?
- Do you take regular breaks when you work?
- Are you getting enough sleep?
- Track your energy level throughout the day and establish a routine that puts creative work when you are most alert
- Devote 15-30 minutes a day toward a long-term goal
- Practice overcoming fear by doing one small thing a day that scares you. This could be reaching out to someone you admire, speaking up at your next meet up, showing off your work to friends and family
I have already started to hone my daily routine by using a modified “Pomodoro Method.” Tomorrow on the blog I will be sharing my lessons learned from adopting this technique. I also have a daily planner sheet available for you in the library. When you have an idea of your energy levels throughout the day, download the planner sheet and write down your routine!