How can you find your creative focus in a world that seems purpose-designed to distract you?
Can you trick your brain into creativity?
How can you establish a daily routine that works with the grain of your creative inclinations, instead of against it?
Is it possible to use social media mindfully?
What can you do when your creativity feels stuck in a rut?
These are some of the questions I and 19 co-authors address in the new book Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus and Sharpen Your Creative Mind.
The book is the first in a new series for creative professionals from 99U, the ‘insight factory’ from Behance.
I’ve been a writer at 99U.com for several years now, so it was great to work on the project with my super-smart editor Jocelyn Glei and the rest of the Behance team.
I’m delighted to contribute to the book alongside Dan Ariely, Leo Babauta, Scott Belsky, Lori Deschene, Aaron Dignan, Erin Rooney Doland, Seth Godin, Todd Henry, Christian Jarrett, Scott McDowell, Cal Newport, Steven Pressfield, Gretchen Rubin, Stefan Sagmeister, Elizabeth G. Saunders, Tony Schwartz, Tiffany Shlain, Linda Stone, and James Victore.
As you’d expect from the line-up, Manage Your Day-to-Day is chock-full of insights and practical tips for creatives working in any field. And as you’d expect from Behance, the book itself is beautifully designed.
I contributed two articles to the collection: ‘Laying the Groundwork for an Effective Routine’, and ‘Getting Unstuck’. Here’s an extract from the first one:
From: ‘Laying the Groundwork for an Effective Routine’
Creative Work First, Reactive Work Second
The single most important change you can make in your working habits is to switch to creative work first, reactive work second. This means blocking off a large chunk of time every day for creative work on your own priorities, with the phone and e-mail off.
I used to be a frustrated writer. Making this switch turned me into a productive writer. Now, I start the working day with several hours of writing. I never schedule meetings in the morning, if I can avoid it. So whatever else happens, I always get my most important work done – and looking back, all of my biggest successes have been the result of making this simple change.
Yet there wasn’t a single day when I sat down to write an article, blog post, or book chapter without a string of people waiting for me to get back to them.
It wasn’t easy, and it still isn’t, particularly when I get phone messages beginning “I sent you an e-mail two hours ago…!”
By definition, this approach goes against the grain of others’ expectations and the pressures they put on you. It takes willpower to switch off the world, even for an hour. It feels uncomfortable, and sometimes people get upset. But it’s better to disappoint a few people over small things, than to surrender your dreams for an empty inbox. Otherwise you’re sacrificing your potential for the illusion of professionalism.
I’m enjoying dipping into the book and learning from my co-authors’ perspectives on the creative process. It’s the kind of book to keep handy for those challenging days when you’re feeling overwhelmed and under-inspired.
Thanks to Jocelyn, Scott Belsky and the rest of the Behance team for making the project happen, and to my fellow authors for producing a book I’m proud to be a part of.
I hope you find Manage Your Day-to-Day helpful and worth your time.