I’m reading Mason Currey’s excellent Daily Rituals: How Artists Work at the moment, and have just changed my daily routine as a result. The book is endlessly fascinating, examining the range of approaches writers, musicians, artists, and others use to get through the day having accomplished something. It’s pretty reassuring as everyone has a different way to do this, involving working in the morning, afternoon, evening, at night, in bed, in cafes, before eating, having drunk a lot, and many other peculiarities.
Personally, I’ve always tended to sit down at about 10-10.30 at night and work then, but increasingly I’m finding this difficult as I’m just too tired. It’s also partly influenced by the changing family routines as my children get older. Whereas five years ago, pretty much everyone was asleep by about 10.30pm, bow everyone is up, so the house still is in motion. I think this is also why I tend to struggle to get going at this time of night now. While reading Daily Rituals, I’ve been reassessing my own day, and for the last few days I’ve been moving to an early morning working block. This is just about ready to do seriously now, so as of Monday I’m switching to do a 6-8am daily practice. The two days I did this at the end of last week (admittedly 7-8, then 6.30ish-8) were really productive, and the sense of having achieved something before breakfast was amazing. It feels like the pressure has been removed for the rest of the day. And of course, everyone else is asleep (teenagers, mornings), so I’ve found a quiet time again. It’s going to be more of a test from Monday though as I also need to be on campus, which is a 90 minute commute. It should work though, all being well.
I’ve also been reading Austin Kleon’s latest book Keep Going, having found his two previous books really useful in rethinking aspects of my working methods. As with his other books, a set of ten simple ideas are presented, supported by comments from other practitioners. I guess not everyone finds this approach useful, but I really like his writing and some of the simple ideas to rethink how you work. But I’m also a sucker for anything involving personal organisation, about which I am a little obsessive.
So I’ve still not found the perfect routine, but perhaps that’s because the perfect routine is always the next one, the one that makes everything to click into place. Still looking for that, but it’s there somewhere.