I just finished reading Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. The book goes deep on the daily habits of artists and geniuses as diverse as Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keeffe, John Coltrane, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, and about 150 others.
Rituals, habits and routines. We all have them. What’s fascinating in this book is how you start to draw parallels between these geniuses and how their routines led to great bodies of work. Many of them worked alone, had limited resources, overcame huge obstacles and did not find success until later in life.
Sticking to their daily rituals helped keep them on track through difficult times. And when I mention difficult times, I’m including famines, world wars, disease, depressions, political repression, and social injustice. A little different than some of the inconveniences we have today.
I like the word habits because it is something you instinctively do. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of bad habits out there but if we look at the big picture, hopefully we’re pushing some of these bad habits out of the way by stacking up the good ones.
You can stack up your habits the same way you make time for what’s important in your life. I heard a great analogy the other day about oxygen masks. The reason the airline attendant asks you to put yours on first is so that you can help those around you, because if you’re not breathing you’re not much help to anyone.
So when I’m looking at stacking habits, I think the best way for me to help in my family and others is to make health, sleep and exercise the core part of my daily routine. It almost sounds easy, but we know it is not. All kinds of crap gets in the way. Sometimes we even feel selfish taking time to exercise or sleep.
After years of trying to establish some good habits and get rid of some bad ones, here’s what I found that has worked. [Read more…] about Rituals, Habits, and Routines. How history’s greatest thinkers created brilliant work.