Tuesday, January 26, 2016

daily rituals

This is my second post in my series about how to manage the schedule of a creative business. If you missed my first post, read it!

 There has been a lot of interest lately in the daily ritual of artists and writers. I think it is a bit of a mystery how creative types manage to discipline themselves enough day after day to actually get their work done, while also indulging their creative whims that help fuel the work they do.  And making your way in the world as an artist, which means doing your own thing on your own terms, takes lots of discipline and self-control.

All of us want to be in the studio, but many of us have a hard time getting in there consistently and as I pointed out in my last post, consistency is key to running a successful creative business. So many things to do to prepare ourselves properly before we step into our creative space, so many cute cat pics to look at first.  The way to address this problem is with a daily ritual that will help you transition into your studio smoothly and without fuss, day after day.

The reason for the daily ritual is three fold:

  • One, it sets a daily pattern that alerts your brain to the fact that we are going to do some familiar and routine things, and then we are going to the studio. You're brain doesn't have as much of a chance to dream up exciting capers and out-of-studio adventures because you've given it notice that we are not doing that today, we're going to the studio and focusing on work. 

  • Two, a daily routine eliminates the need to make decisions about petty things and uses that brain power for more important things. It may seem silly, but it's well documented that humans only have the capacity to make so many good decisions in a day, and you don't want to use them up on mundane things, like what to eat for breakfast.

  • Three, the daily ritual is a weapon against procrastination. You're set with a routine that meets your needs, and over time it becomes a well-worn path that is easier and easier to follow. It's not difficult to dismiss the procrastinating actions that your brain tries to throw in your path because your ritual becomes more comfortable to execute than doing something else that you know is going to delay your entry into the studio. 

The daily ritual is all about transition-- transition from the your regular life to your creative life in the studio. You start developing your daily ritual by looking at what time of day and from what place you transition to your studio. For me, I'm transitioning from my home in the morning to my studio to work all day. So my daily ritual encompasses an everyday morning routine-- personal hygiene, exercise, meditation, breakfast, computer time, etc. I include all of these things in my daily ritual because once I'm in my studio, I don't want to be distracted by anything such as needing to get exercise, racing thoughts, anxiety about responding to a customer, or feeling hungry.  I've dealt with all of that stuff already and I don't have to think about it anymore.

If you are transitioning from a day job to your studio later in the day, you will have to take different factors into consideration. Or if you have a family to mange, even more components to evaluate. The only thing that matters is that you are taking a regular, repetitive action daily
that brings you comfort while addressing the things that may distract you once you are in the studio, so you can walk into the studio ready to focus. It must be something that you can look forward to so you don't mind doing it day after day. If your life is very chaotic with a lot of elements you can't always control, your daily ritual can be as simple as a cup of tea before doing your work. Or it can be very elaborate like mine, covering all of your basic needs.

I developed my daily ritual by making a detailed list of everything my most ideal self would do every day to make a perfect morning. It's true that things don't always go as planned and there are interruptions that throw my day off. But for the most part, my daily rituals sees to all of my needs and protects me from the chaos of my own mind. I would love to hear from you about your daily ritual, or struggles you have while trying to establish one.

My next post in this series will cover more of the nitty-gritty on how I divide my time up between all my tasks, how I streamline things, and how I keep a lid on the chaos.