I’ve just started reading the book Daily Rituals by Mason Currey which analyses the daily practice of creative people from many, many different fields of endeavour. It is a very interesting subject as it inevitably made me reflect on my own use of time.
Depending on the parameters of your work, your freedom to choose what happens & when may range from being fairly limited to being completely free. But no matter the parameters, what matters in the end is the results: how and when are you the most productive?
I recently came across a great visual analysis by RJ Andrews based on some of the data from that book – have a look at his blog Info We Trust and/or check the fullsize infographic here – here is a small excerpt:
In many ways these reflect what is likely the result of evolution: each person has evolved their daily ritual to best suit their lives and their work. But another angle on it is that time management actually exists to serve other purposes i.e. to manage focus, energy and attention. The best example of hacking these parameters that I have experienced personally is to do with the relationship between physical exercise & attention.
When my studio was in Miramar, my muso neighbours upstairs had a table tennis table set up in one of their spare rooms. And at some point in the day someone would message: ‘game on!’ What motivated whoever made the initial call to do so inevitably varied, but I used to initiate a game whenever I got stuck on a difficult subjective problem. Whether it was a scene that wasn’t working well for sound, or a specific sound I was developing but had stalled, or some other creative problem that progress had ground to a hault. I knew from past experience that a 15 minute game of ping pong would achieve two things: first it would push enough oxygen into my body & brain to energise me. Second it would forcibly give my conscious mind a break from problem solving. The result: every time I would return after the game, hit play & watch the scene that was causing problems, I would have instant insight into what the problem actually was, and how to go about creating or evolving solutions that I had not been able to see before.
So if you’ve ever wanted a reason to justify a ping pong table for your workplace then thats about as good as it gets… Now that I live practically in the countryside, I have substituted physical labour in the garden/bush for ping pong, and it serves the same function with the added bonus of also progressing whatever it is I am working on in the garden (digging, cutting branches off trees, collecting firewood etc). Accordingly I found it interesting to look at the infographic of Darwins daily ritual and notice he went for three walks per day.
Anything that rests your conscious mind while oxygenating your body is likely to contribute positively to your creative work, and while its fairly well known that exercise positively contributes to mood, this report (PDF) concludes that anerobic exercise enhances creativity irresepective of mood! Right then, time for a walk!
From Psychology Today Why does walking stimulate creativity?