How to be your best creative self you can be with these little steps.
The power of habits cannot be overstated. There were numerous books written on the subject (like 7 Habits of Highly Effective People or The Power of Habit) but we will have a look at the subject from the creative point of view.
Habits can be associated with routines, which are not necessarily identified with creativity. Typical hunch should tell us that creativity is “thinking outside of the box” and, while this has certainly got some truth to it, habits are here for us to create more space in our own creative playground. I touched a little bit on the subject in my previous post and I will try to provide you with a comprehensive list of very powerful habits that will help you be your best creative self you can be.
Rise and shine. This is the most daunting task and I totally understand how hard can this be. I took me a long time and a lot of dozing off at work to get this habit in place, especially that my “normal” wake up time already was at 5.30 AM. I was never a morning person but once I noticed how much I could get done in one hour in the morning I stopped complaining and got on with it. It’s not only the time but the quality of it. It’s extremely quiet at this early hour, even in a bustling city like London. If you are struggling for time in the afternoon/evening, there’s not many other options really. Besides, it gets really easy once you get used to it. The key here is to allow yourself to go to sleep at an “reasonable” hour and get minimum seven hours and ideally eight hours sleep. You cannot be creative when you are tired.
Morning Pages – 30 minutes
This is a time consuming habit but the clarity that it provides your mind with, it is well worth the hassle. It comes from Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way and it is simple yet extremely effective. I have been doing it for over six months now and even though I used to keep a journal, this has provided me with many, many ideas. The concept is as follows, you grab a notepad and a pen soon after waking up and you write a “stream of conciousness” as it flows. It doesn’t need to have any artistic merit. You simply throw your thoughts as they come on paper. Three pages each morning. It is important that you keep it to three pages. As I mentioned I used to keep morning journal of about one page and expanding it to three pages gave me some unusual insights into my own thoughts.
Gratitude List – 5 minutes
Simple yet extremely powerful habit. It’s a very good starting point if you are building your habit list as it doesn’t take much time and you can do it either in the morning or in the evening (morning will have a little bit more effect however). Simply list the things you are grateful for in your life. This can put you in a more positive mood.
Physical Exercise – 30 minutes
You don’t have to become a hardcore body builder, but get yourself tired. I strongly recommend brisk walks. Many great thinkers used to walk daily to find solutions to their problems, Charles Darwin had a walking path put in place around his house just for that reason. Charles Dickens used to go on strolls of up to ten (!) hours around London at night. Walking helps you to relax and allow your mind to start cracking on the issues in the background.
Tidy up your desk – 10 minutes
At the end of your day, take few minutes to tidy up your workspace and prepare it for the next day. This free up some time for you in the morning and put your mind at more ease.
Evening Reading – 30 minutes
This is a great way to allow your mind to “let go” of all stress of the day. Just before going to sleep, read for half hour, but not just any odd book, it is important that what you read at that time is fiction. Fantasy or crime, whatever floats your boat, but let this be an enjoyable read.
Prepare your next day clothes – 10 minutes
This will vary what you wear. I, for instance, do not bother with iron and tend to wear very simple clothes. According to this article, we have a limited decision making processes that our brain allows us during a day. Free up a few of them the evening before by preparing your clothes. It will also allow you for a little bit more time in the morning hours.
There you have it, 7 habits of highly creative people. The key with habits is to start slowly, introducing one at a time. I would recommend a 30 Day Challenge approach for each, just check the video below. It can take a while to introduce a number of habits to your life, but it is totally worth it. Earl Nightingale once said “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to get there. The time will pass anyway.” Introducing the habits may not be a “dream” but you get the idea.
Tasks like this can be daunting and just thinking about will put you off. The key here is to trick your mind is to tell yourself that you will just do it for 5 minutes, that it is not a big deal, and then simply continue. I once read somebody’s article (unfortunately I cannot remember who tat was as it was years back) about trying to go to the gym every day. Whenever the person thought of going to the gym, it would put her off, so she just said to herself “all I need to do is to get dressed and walk through the door”. Easy stuff. Your brain cannot argue much with that and will allow you to do it. Once you are through the door, it doesn’t feel like a mission any more and you can head to your favourite gym.