It's no secret that routine is an important part of the creative process. Association is a powerful part of memory-building, and establishing a routine may actually help signal your brain that it's time to start being creative. If you're looking for a way to not only increase your productivity, but also improve the quality of your work, start by establishing a routine.
However, a typical routine may not suit you. You need to create a system that works for your personality and schedule. Otherwise, you'll struggle to stick with it, and it'll have the opposite of the intended effect. Eventually you'll abandon your routine and you'll be right back where you started.
Follow these steps to establish a creative routine that works for you:
1. First, take an inventory of your time. How do you spend your waking hours? How much time do you allot for each activity? What is your ratio of work to play? Spend a day or a week writing down everything you do from morning to night. Write down the start and stop times for each activity so that you get an accurate picture of what you do and when you do it.
After reviewing your inventory, evaluate your activities. Does your schedule align with your priorities? If not, make note of specific ways that you can live each day in harmony with your goals and values.
2. Consider your personal habits, as well. Are you a morning person, or do you feel more energized late at night? What is your work schedule like? Do you have any other obligations that require you to be available at a specific time?
Working when you feel naturally more productive is a great idea if you can swing it. Do your best to accommodate yourself - the point of a routine is not to beat yourself into submission, it's to create an environment that keeps you sharp and allows you to function at your best.
3. Make a list of your creative obligations. For example, in order to publish a blog post I have to plan my posts and outline them, spend time doing research on the specific topics, write and edit each post, select photos and create post images, format each post, and schedule it to publish. Knowing exactly what I need to accomplish helps me to make a schedule that works for me.
4. Using your time inventory and your existing schedule, create a template for your new routine. You can be as specific as you want to be - there's no need to create a strict regimen if that's not what works for you. Personally, I prefer to have some flexibility. If I know when I'm supposed to be working, and I have a to-do list, I can select my task based on my priorities and preferences at the time. However, someone else may need stricter guidelines to stay motivated and get the work done.
5. Also consider building incentives into your schedule. Rewards are a great way to motivate yourself in a way that fosters creativity, and they might help you stick to your routine. It can be a material object, like food or a new bag, but it can also be an experience, such as a bubble bath or a night out with your friends. Celebrate the milestones! Anything that gets you ticking will help you meet your goals.
What is your creative routine? How do you motivate yourself to be productive and creative?