Calendar designed by Phil Goodwin from the Noun Project

Calendar designed by Phil Goodwin from the Noun Project

Typical advice for how to do better work usually relates to a day-to-day schedule. We’re told to wake up an hour earlier, drink more tea, do yoga. While this type of advice works well for some people, it’s not meant to be an ideal for everyone. Unfortunately we mistake it as such, which only ends in frustration. We have to rethink how we view rituals. As author Todd Henry explains:

Over time, I’ve heard of people adopting the specific rituals of their heroes because they hoped that the simple act of getting up early, or drinking a cup of tea before writing, or writing letters in the early afternoon would somehow unlock their ability to do better work. (These were smart people, so I suspect that it was more wishful thinking than anything.) Shaking up your system may help for a while, but those rituals will eventually grow stale if they’re not serving a greater purpose.

The best way to identify whether or not a routine will work for you? Henry gives us three questions to ask:

What outcome are you trying to achieve today?

How can your routines/rituals be better channeled to help you achieve it?

Which routines/rituals are undeniably in the way of it?

It’s easy to get sucked into the constant bombardment of advice on creative rituals, but unless you’re asking the right questions to see how a specific ritual might align with your own, personal, objectives, your efforts may be misguided. Ultimately leaving you worse than when you started.

If you want to improve the rituals in your life that can make a difference, read the advice on Henry’s blog, The Accidental Creative.

  • Madeliene Rose

    I think it was Flaubert who once wrote: “Be regular and orderly in your
    life so that you may be violent and original in your work.” It’s not
    what you should do but what you need to do to attain your goals…

  • Linda Adams

    I always hate the advice about waking up early. Everyone seems to think that’s the only solution — I remember one blogger saying that if you did not wake up early, then it didn’t count as writing. It assumes everyone operates to the same daily rhythm, which may not be true at all.

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