Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.-
So, did you reflect on what you’re willing to give up in order to get what you want? (Don’t tell me you thought the world would shower you with fortune and praise in return for nothing!)
Good. I’m proud of you. Now, let’s get back to the nuts and bolts of making space for your art. In other words…
Creative Lifestyle Design: 101
Now, this is how I go about my day in order to clear space for my writing. Take from it what you will. Leave out all the bits that don’t resonate with you. Believe nothing, not even if I have said it, unless it accords with your own inner truth.
I organise what I do each day according to the energy I have at a particular time as opposed to arbitrarily picking things off my to-do list or leaping into a task whenever I remember it. Human beings have what is called a “circadian rhythm“. It’s an internal body clock we evolved that makes us feel sleepy when it’s dark outside and peppy when the sun’s up. We don’t have night vision, so our bodies are designed to function when the world is working in our favour. Each person’s is a little different. I advocate working with your circadian rhythm in order to produce your best work each day. You can try and fight mother nature, but all it takes is a hurricane to demolish the best man-made bridge.
Action to Take From This
- For one week (two if you really want to be thorough), carry a notebook around with you at all times.
- In your phone, set a calendar reminder to prompt you every 2 hours with the question, “How am I feeling right now?”
- Each time your alarm goes off, whip out your notebook and jot down your thoughts. One to two lines will suffice. Just make sure you write enough that you have something to work with when you go back and do a review. Also note what you’re doing at the time and where you were doing it.
- At the end of your 7-14 days of self-reflection, sit down and block out your day according to your emotional/physical energy range. I use a High/Medium/Low scale, but you could just as easily use a 10-point scale to measure yourself, or a percentage point basis. Doesn’t matter- do what works for you.
Now, reflect on your craft. What state of body/mind do you need to be in for you to do good work?
If you’re a dancer, you’ll probably need to work when your physical energy is highest and you’re in a place with plenty of room. If you’re a writer, you’ll need little more than the physical energy to push a pencil across a paper, and said paper and pencil within close proximity.
Write out your energy phases and the time they occur onto a piece of paper or Google Doc.
You’re done with Part One. Keep your daily outline some place safe. You’ll need it tomorrow when I go over how to critically evaluate optimising each portion of your day.
My day is divided into 6 distinct phases of energy:
- Early morning- the first 3 hours after I wake up. This is usually 6am-8am. High emotional energy, slowly mounting physical energy.
- Morning- 9am until noon. High emotional and physical energy.
- Early afternoon- Noon-4pm. Medium emotional energy, high physical energy.
- Late afternoon- 4pm-6:30pm-ish. Low physical and emotional energy. (This exact period of sluggishness is quite common in humans. By the end of late afternoon, you’ve probably been awake for about 12 hours and your body is ready to start winding down. It will pass.)
- Evening- 6:30pm- 9pm. High emotional energy, low physical energy.
- Night- 9-1am-ish. High emotional energy, no physical energy.
All of my important creative work is done when I have high emotional energy, like writing these blog posts or doing school work. When my emotional energy is low, I do all the stuff that requires little more than brute force, like grocery shopping or tidying my room.
There are a series of questions that I asked myself about all 6 portions of my day. They helped me to be more mindful and effective in how I go about balancing work with play. That’s lesson 102. See you on Wednesday!
Until then, head down to the comment section and let me know: when do you feel most energetic, and why?