Hi.

Welcome to Sixteenth Street Society. A place for creatives of all types to come and find encouragement, motivation and replenishment. 

AH, ROUTINE- THE SPICE OF LIFE?

AH, ROUTINE- THE SPICE OF LIFE?

Hello, my name is Katelyn and I don't like change. But I also dislike routine. Uhh...

I've always had this idea of routines floating around in my head that they are restrictive and will only hold me back. After all, I consider myself a creative person and creative people just go with their gut, right? You follow the inspiration. Answer only to your muses. Like any self-respecting artist/creative. I won't be held back by your rules and routines! OUT OF MY WAY I'M TRYING TO MAKE SOMETHING HERE!

Yeah. Ok. Dramatic. 

But seriously, that's how I've felt for a long time. I've tried to avoid routines and structure because it seemed like it would be stifling. I've hated every office job I've had so surely that means I just hate routine and structure. Right? You know. You get it. I'm not being unreasonable. 


NOW THAT WE HAVE THAT OUT OF THE WAY

let's chat about how having routines can change your life. Yes, your life. You, the creative reading this. The person who feels held back by structure and just wants to be free to go where the wind takes them. This is for you. 

According to Northwestern Medicine some of the consequences of not having a routine can be: stress, poor sleep, poor eating, poor physical condition, & ineffective use of time. I have definitely noticed all of those things to be true of myself when I don't have a routine. Which is most of the time.

Things seemed a little bit easier when I had a full-time job. I knew exactly what parts of the day I could devote to my art/creativity and what parts I had to devote to working for someone else. I knew when I could go to the grocery store, when I could go to the gym, when I could see friends, when I could clean the house, etc. It was easier to plan my life, but that doesn't mean I always did it. I still struggled with just wanting to lay around when I wasn't at work. I often dreamed about the day that I could leave my job and work from home. I thought it would be so freeing and I would get so much done. Turns out I was wrong.

A little over a month ago I found myself jobless. It just sort of happened. I wasn't ready for it or planning on it. One day I went to work at 8:30am and at 2pm I came home with no where to go the next day. Part of me thought "what the hell am I going to do now??" and part of me thought "HELL YES! FINALLY!" 

For the first week I felt pretty good. I mostly took a break from work. Occasionally I would look into building SS//Society but for the most part I just enjoyed not having to be anywhere. I hadn't been without work for more than 1 day since I was 16 (not including vacation, of course). It was nice to relax. But then the first week turned into the second week and then into the third and I started to get bored and restless. Oh, and aimless. I was super aimless. About once a week (usually on Sunday) I would think, "Ok! next week I'm going to have a routine! I'm going to get up early and go to the gym. Then I'm going to come home and make breakfast, shower, get ready, and get to work! It's gunna be awesome and I'm going to get so much done!!" Every Monday morning I would seem to forget my super awesome idea of a routine and wake up whenever I felt like it (which just got later and later) and maybe I would get some work done that day and maybe I wouldn't- I would just have to wait and see. 

I still felt like a routine was kind of silly and wouldn't work for me. I think what really happened was I wanted to change too much too fast. It was all or nothing for me and that always ended up being nothing. 

The last couple of weeks have been a little different. I've made it to the gym at least twice a week and I've eaten breakfast almost every morning. I've even managed to write a couple of blog posts and get my first podcast episode ready to publish. It's slow but I'm getting there. Meals have become more consistent which means I haven't had massive ups and downs throughout the day from being hungry. I've started to actually do the dishes after I use them (progress, not perfection). I've been trying to get ready in the morning instead of waiting until 3 pm to take a shower and put on makeup. 

I've started to figure out what works for me. That's important. It seems that we are too often eager to take on someone else's routine and think it's going to work just as well for us. According to Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, Martha Freud, wife of Sigmund, “laid out his clothes, chose his handkerchiefs, and even put toothpaste on his toothbrush." I personally don't feel the need to have Matt put toothpaste on my toothbrush but apparently it worked for Freud. 

GREAT MINDS GET TO WORK

Mason Currey, the author of Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, studied the schedules of 161 painters, writers, composers, philosophers, scientists, and others. I haven't read the book yet (I just reserved it from the library- I'll let you know more when I finish it) but Sarah Green Carmichael, a senior editor at the Harvard Business Review found some themes in the routines of the people Currey studied. Here are some of the things she noticed that helped these incredible minds create their best work:

- having a workspace with minimal distractions

- taking a daily walk

- accountability metrics

- a clear dividing line between important work and busy work

- a habit of stopping when they’re on a roll, not when they’re stuck

- a supportive partner

- limited social lives

I want to read the book to get more insight but just knowing that some of the greatest minds (artists or not) valued routine and structure is enough to make me want to strive for more of those things in my life. I want routine and structure for my mind, body and soul. 

One of my favorite podcasts to listen to is the Tim Ferriss Show because he always asks his guests about their routines. He wants to know if they get up at the same time every morning, if they eat the same thing for breakfast every day, if they have specific times for working and what that looks like, and the list goes on. I've heard him interview some incredibly interesting and successful people and almost all of them have solid routines in place. A lot of them are people who make a living in a creative field and it fascinated me that these people seemed to have the most solid routines. I remember one guest telling Tim that he sits down to write for four hours every day at the same time. Whatever does or doesn't get accomplished in those four hours is what he has to show for the day. He didn't write when he "felt like it" or "when inspiration struck" he wrote when it was time to write. Every. single. day. Just like that. 

This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by photographer Chuck Close, 

inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just show up and get to work.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Maybe it seems boring or restrictive to you or maybe it seems exciting. Either way, you have nothing to lose by trying. 

Leave a comment and let me know what you think of routines. Do you love them? Hate them? Feel indifferent towards them? Do you have any routines currently? What are they? How has having a routined change your health or productivity? I love hearing about other people's routines because they inspire me to find a routine that works for me. 


\\ SAY HELLO // 

INSTA: @katelynswanson

FB: /sixteenthstreetsociety

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