This post is an excerpt from a longer post we featured with Mason Currey about tapping the rituals of our great creative minds. Read the full post here.
How we start the day has a huge impact on our work.
Benjamin Franklin crafted his daily routine in an effort to accomplish good each day. Thomas Edison’s epic to-do list helped build his prolific inventions.
Mason Currey, author of Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, researched the productivity and work habits of our great artists, composers, philosophers, playwrights, scientists, writers, and poets.
The daily work rituals—and in many instances—the morning routines he discovered, provide insight into how some of our great creative minds started their day.
We recently spoke with Mason about making the most of your day in order to be successful in all you set out to accomplish.
Here’s our discussion with Mason about starting strong first thing in the morning.
We all start each day with the same amount of time. Does it matter when, or how, we start those 24 hours?
It definitely matters when and how you start the day—but that doesn’t mean that there’s one “right” way to do so.
In my research, I found great creative minds who woke up at 4:00 a.m. and who slept until noon (or later); who went immediately to work and who spent hours waiting for the proper mood to arrive.
What all these people have in common is that they devised a schedule and a set of habits that suited their temperaments and life circumstances—and that, in most cases, they organized their days (and, by extension, their lives) around creating the best conditions for their creative work.
Ben Franklin steadfastly planned each day. How important is it to start the morning off right? Should we all be asking ourselves, “What good shall we do today?”
Franklin’s schedule is another good example of how, I think, one’s routine should be tailored to his or her temperament. Franklin was, of course, a great believer in continual self-improvement, and his schedule very much reflects that. (It’s also worth noting that his famous daily scheme was his ideal schedule for the day, and not necessarily the one he actually followed most days.)
So I don’t think everyone should start off the morning by asking themselves what good they shall do that day—but I do think we should follow Franklin’s example of treating our daily schedule as an opportunity and a tool, and tailor it to suit our priorities in life.
What is it about the morning that works so well for some people?
Early mornings are a popular working time for many writers and artists, for a few obvious reasons. If you get up early enough, you can generally count on being free from visitors, phone calls, and other interruptions. And if you go straight to work on your creative project—if you literally put it first in your day—you can guarantee that your working time won’t be derailed by other commitments or temptations.
How can people embrace the morning to accomplish more earlier in the day?
I think the key is going to straight to work, with a minimum of pit stops along the way. And the more susceptible you are to distractions, the harder you have to be on yourself. Some people can read the newspaper and have breakfast with their spouse and then get to work with no problem; others have to immediately get to work before doing anything else, or else risk losing the entire workday.
I think you have to really take stock of your weaknesses and then craft a schedule that protects you from your worst habits.