If you told me in my twenties that being rigorous about my schedule would be a major differentiator in the success of my creative work, I would have said, you’re crazy. You can’t put creativity in a box like that, I thought. In my mind, schedules only confined the creative process. Today, my thoughts on this have completely 180’d, and I firmly believe that setting a schedule can be your biggest ally as a creator.
Time is limited. There is always something to be doing or thinking about. Bills, groceries, laundry, exercise, friends, events, work, kids, etc. The beauty of keeping a schedule is giving yourself space and clarity of mind to focus on a single task at hand, before moving onto the next. Set time and protect those minutes from life’s other demands and distractions. Placing something on your schedule as an uninterrupted block of time to work on whatever you’ve decided, gives your brain permission to focus on only that thing, and to not feel guilty or worried about other things on your to-do list.
Create the space for the magic to happen.
How do you like to create? What do you need in your environment to bring out your best work? Set it up. Maya Angelou used to book a hotel room to work in every day from 7AM-after lunch. She did this because she knew if she didn’t intentionally create that time and space for herself, her attention and focus would be pulled in other directions. Finding some sort of consistency with your creative schedule will increase your output, especially as it compounds over time. If you are only waiting around for inspiration to strike, you will miss the consistent progress and output that stems from developing regularity around a creative schedule.
At first, this might feel like a selfish act, but in reality, it’s one of the best things you can do for others. When you create regularly, you become a better person. You feel more tapped into your unique individuality, and purpose driven. When you prioritize your creativity as a must have rather than a nice to have, it enables you to bring your best self to every other interaction.
Tony Schwartz has a great concept called “strategic renewal.” The idea is to create patterns of intense focus, followed by short breaks repeated throughout the day. My schedule is set up in 90-minute blocks. The first 90 minutes of my day I go through my morning routine, followed by knocking out the most important action items of the day. That way, no matter what follows, I’ve created a sense of accomplishment that will last throughout the day. This is what works for me, but I encourage you to experiment with your own creative schedule. Find out what works best for you and stick with it.
Rigor and discipline are required to accomplish anything, even things you love and enjoy. The more disciplined you can be about committing to and sticking with a schedule that helps you stay on your path, the more opportunity will open up to you.
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