How Building Daily Routines Can Help You Create More

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“Inspiration Is for Amateurs—The Rest of Us Just Show Up and Get to Work”

Chuck Close

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how small changes in habits can have a profound impact in what we are able to achieve across all aspects of our lives.

Mason Currey‘s book ‘Daily Rituals‘ is an interesting collection of observations of the daily routines of many of the great creators and provides an interesting insight into the lives of people who need to develop a body of work. What is apparent across almost all of these examples is commitment to showing up and getting to work. Not too much lolling around waiting for the muse to visit, just simply a matter of putting in the time whether they feel like it or not.

This attitude of ‘show up and do the work’ makes me realize that doing something every day, regardless of how small it is will could eventually yield substantial results. The simple act of writing 500 words everyday will mean that you will have written over 25,000 words for the year. Not too shabby.

A photo a day projects were very popular a year or two ago and seem to be unsustainable to me but doable for a month or one photo shoot a week for a year would both result in a body of work that you could do something useful with.

Changes in other parts of your life would also mean potentially useful changes. 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up had a big impact on my weight loss. Meditating before your day gets going or journaling at the end of the day could lead to more positive changes in your outlook and getting more done.

What small change could you incorporate on a daily basis that would move you in the direction of your goals?

Jump to minute 19:00 of the video below to hear Mason Currey talking about his book ‘Daily Rituals’

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Finding your Focus

One of the ideas that I’ve been kicking around recently is whether it’s better to invest time in developing areas of weakness or to put those same hours into enhancing strengths.

I’m increasingly of the opinion that most people can learn to do most things if they are willing to commit the time and energy. Granted, some people may have more of an aptitude for one thing over another (languages aren’t it for me!) and so may not have to work as hard or as long to achieve a basic level of proficiency as someone who doesn’t have the same aptitude.

To get beyond that initial level of proficiency, to achieve mastery, requires a more significant investment of time and energy.

Mastery = time + commitment

It’s been said that mastery of a skill requires approximately 10,000 hours.  This is the equivalent of about 5 years working 40 hour weeks.  It sounds about right to me.  It’s about the length of a traditional apprenticeship or the number of hours that you would be expected to put in during a typical PhD, or MD training program.

So where to invest your 10,000 hours?  In some regards as an ‘amateur’ photographer I’m in a luxurious position in that I can spend time working on what appeals to me rather than developing a skill set that is going to meet the needs of ‘the client’.  In turn this means that I have developed a very lop-sided skill set, as I have focused on the things that appeal to me.  That’s not to say that I’ve been successful with all the subjects that appeal to me.  In fact one of the things that has helped, and continues to help, push me forward are portfolio review sessions with people that want to see me improve and will give me solid frank feedback.  These review sessions have helped me steer away from those subjects that regardless of how hard I try I end up making ‘record shots’, to allow me to focus on those subjects that truly resonate.  It’s taking some time and effort but I’m finding my focus.