Introduction

Hey, you beautiful creative chaos conjurers. Have a seat, grab a coffee, and let me take you back to a time when I had fewer grey hairs and fewer scars from the trials of entrepreneurship. It was the year when I launched my first startup. I was a wet-behind-the-ears wannabe business magnate, armed with a pocketful of dreams and a crumpled blueprint of what I thought was a brilliant idea.

Now, here’s the kick: my schedule was about as structured as a kid’s finger painting. It was a riotous, beautiful mess – bouncing between meetings, rapid-fire problem-solving, and chaotic creativity. I was living the life, right? At least that’s what I thought.

Fast forward a few hair-pulling months, and I found myself paddling upstream without a canoe. Progress was slow, my creativity was hitting more walls than a drunk moth, and my idea – well, let’s just say it looked less like the Mona Lisa and more like a modern art piece titled ‘The confusion of a disoriented entrepreneur.’

Why am I telling you this? Because amidst all this chaos, I stumbled upon a saving grace: routine. Yeah, you heard that right. Not a groundbreaking revelation, not a stroke of genius, but good old-fashioned routine.

See, there’s this gnarly misconception among us creatives that routine is a creativity killer – that it’s this monotonous, grey-colored monster that strangles inspiration and leaves our imagination as dry as a sun-baked desert. But I’m here to set the record straight. The truth, my friends, is that routine doesn’t kill creativity; it fuels it.

Hold up. Did I just see some eye-rolling? I get it. This idea goes against everything we’ve been told about being creative. We’ve all heard the stories, right? The ones about the eccentric artist who only works when inspiration strikes at 3 AM, or the successful entrepreneur who thrives in chaos. And I’m not here to say they’re not real. But, let’s be real here, most of us ain’t Picasso or Elon Musk.

For the rest of us mere mortals, we need structure, not anarchy. We need a roadmap for our brains’ creative engines to follow. We need – drumroll, please – a routine.

Alright, alright, stop the presses. Did I just use the words ‘routine’ and ‘creative’ in the same sentence? Hell yes, I did. And over the next few sections, I’ll prove to you that this combo is not only possible but it’s the damn secret sauce to keeping your creative juices flowing and your progress on track, whether you’re sailing smooth seas or weathering a perfect storm.

The Anatomy of a Creative Routine

Creativity isn’t an unruly beast that roams free and wild. It’s more like a well-trained dog that’ll fetch you the stick of innovation when you need it the most. But to get it to behave, you need to treat it right. You need a routine. A creative routine.

Let’s start with the basics. Your creative routine should have a dedicated time for creativity – what I like to call the “golden hours.” Think of it like reserving a private dining room in a swanky restaurant. You’re setting aside a prime slot in your schedule, free from distractions and interruptions, just for your creativity to indulge.

Why does this matter? Because creativity, much like any other cognitive process, thrives on focus. And when you know you have a dedicated time for it, you can spend the rest of your day collecting ideas and insights, knowing you’ll have the time to connect the dots later.

Now, this isn’t about confining your creativity. It’s about giving it room to breathe. It’s about creating a reliable structure, a roadmap, if you will, for your brain’s creative engine. Because contrary to popular belief, our brains aren’t these whimsical machines that spit out ideas at random. They’re problem-solving powerhouses that work best when they know what to expect.

And that’s where routines come in. They provide structure. They’re like training wheels for your creativity – giving it the support and direction it needs to keep moving forward. It’s not about boxing your creativity in; it’s about laying down a path for it to follow.

Which brings us to our next point: the myth of unstructured creativity, the romantic idea of the “whenever inspiration strikes” approach. It’s alluring, sure. The thought of waking up in the middle of the night with a brilliant idea or scribbling thoughts on a napkin in a coffee shop. But how often does that really happen?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying these sparks of inspiration don’t exist. But let’s face it, they’re not exactly reliable. You can’t bank on the muse showing up on a whim. What you can bank on, though, is your routine.

It’s about time we took the romanticism out of the creative process and looked at it for what it really is: work. Fun work, yes, but work nonetheless. And like any work, it benefits from having a structure, a routine.

A creative routine isn’t about killing spontaneity; it’s about fostering consistency. It’s about creating an environment where inspiration isn’t a lucky accident but a regular visitor.

Crafting Your Creative Routine

Alright, so you’re sold on the idea of a creative routine. Great! Now, how do you go about building one? Well, for starters, remember this: there’s no one-size-fits-all. Your routine should be as unique as your fingerprint. It should be shaped by your lifestyle, your quirks, your rhythm. What works for Da Vinci or Hemingway might not work for you, and that’s okay.

The key is to customize your routine. Some people might be morning birds, while others are night owls. Some people might prefer working in short bursts, while others might prefer long, uninterrupted blocks of time. The point is to figure out what works best for you and then carve out a routine that suits your style.

Now, let’s talk about consistency. If there’s one thing your creative routine craves, it’s consistency. This is about more than just setting aside time; it’s about creating a ritual. You know, like having that cup of joe in the morning or reading a chapter before bed.

You see, when you do something at the same time and place every day, it sends a signal to your brain. It’s like a Pavlovian cue, telling your brain, “Hey, it’s time to get creative.” And over time, this ritual becomes so ingrained that all you need to do is start the ritual, and your brain automatically shifts into creative mode. It’s like your own personal on-switch for creativity.

But while consistency is crucial, so is flexibility. Because let’s be real: life happens. And sometimes, it doesn’t care about your meticulously crafted routine. That’s why it’s important to find a balance between discipline and flexibility.

Rigidity is a routine’s worst enemy. You need to be able to bend without breaking. If you can’t stick to your routine one day, don’t sweat it. Don’t let it throw you off. Remember, your routine is there to serve you, not the other way around.

So, remember, as you craft your creative routine, keep these three principles in mind: customization, consistency, and balance. Because a well-crafted routine isn’t just a schedule; it’s a lifeline to your creativity, a compass guiding you through the wilderness of ideas. It’s your own personal north star, always leading you back to your creative self.

Unpacking the Power of Progress

Creative work is a bit like scaling a mountain. You’re constantly reaching for new heights, driven by the thrill of discovery. But let’s face it – it’s not all picturesque views and triumphant summit selfies. There’s the slog, the grind, the sheer effort of putting one foot in front of the other. And that’s where the power of routine comes in.

A creative routine fosters a sense of progress. It’s like a trail of breadcrumbs reminding you of how far you’ve come. It reassures you that even when it feels like you’re stuck or moving at a snail’s pace, you’re still making headway.

And don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that those big, dramatic breakthroughs – the ‘aha!’ moments – aren’t important. But the truth is, they’re just the tip of the creative iceberg. What’s underneath, what’s really driving your creative work forward, is the steady drip of ideas, the incremental improvements you make each day.

This brings us to a common misconception: that progress is always a ‘Eureka!’ moment. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Progress isn’t always a lightning bolt of insight; often, it’s a quiet hum. It’s the steady beat of your creative routine, the rhythm of your work. It’s the confidence that comes from knowing you’re moving in the right direction, even when the destination isn’t in sight.

So, don’t get disheartened if you don’t have a trail of ‘Eureka!’ moments to show for your work. Remember, the creative journey is a marathon, not a sprint. And each step you take, no matter how small, is a testament to your progress. It’s proof that you’re showing up, doing the work, and moving forward.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s not the brilliant flashes of inspiration but the steady glow of persistence that lights your way. It’s not the sudden leaps forward but the steady march of progress that gets you to your goal.

And it all starts with a routine. It starts with showing up at the same time, in the same place, day after day, putting one foot in front of the other, and trusting in the power of progress.

Nurturing Inspiration Through Routine

If I had a dime for every time I heard someone say, “I’ll start when I feel inspired”, I’d be typing this from my private island. Inspiration, that elusive, mythical beast. We chase after it, believing it to be the wellspring of creativity. But here’s the kicker – you don’t need a muse; you need a schedule.

That’s right. Routine, not inspiration, is the lifeblood of creativity. I know, it sounds about as exciting as watching paint dry, but hear me out. Routine creates a conducive environment for inspiration. It’s like setting a dinner table for a fickle guest, showing up every day, hoping they’ll grace you with their presence. And more often than not, they do.

The reason is simple. When you commit to a routine, you’re effectively creating a playground for your ideas. You’re giving them the time and space they need to frolic, to mix and mingle, and, before you know it, they’re off sparking each other, and BAM! You’re in the zone, the ideas are flowing, and you can barely keep up.

And that brings us to another point: distinguishing inspiration from creativity. While inspiration is sporadic, creativity is habitual. Inspiration is a fleeting visitor; creativity is a constant companion. And it’s through routine that we turn the fleeting into the constant, the sporadic into the habitual.

Now, let’s tackle a pesky stereotype: the starving artist, toiling away in obscurity, waiting for inspiration to strike. It’s romantic, sure, but it’s also a load of hogwash. Because the reality is far less dramatic: a thriving routine aficionado, clocking in day after day, stoking the fires of creativity.

So, the next time you find yourself waiting for inspiration to strike, remember this: You’re not a lightning rod, you’re a gardener. Your job isn’t to catch a bolt from the blue; it’s to till the soil, plant the seeds, and nurture them with a consistent routine. And before you know it, you’ll be reaping a bountiful harvest of ideas, no muse required.

The Ups and Downs: Staying Creative in Good Times and Bad

Life. It’s a roller coaster ride. One moment you’re up in the clouds, everything’s coming up roses. The next, you’re in the pits, and it feels like the chips are down. Now, let me ask you something: When it comes to your creative work, are you a fair-weather friend, or are you in it for the long haul?

Here’s the thing about routines: they’re not just for the good times. In fact, they’re even more crucial when the going gets tough. Because when life’s throwing curveballs left and right, your routine can be the rock you cling to. It’s the lighthouse guiding you through the storm, the anchor keeping you grounded.

In the sunshine days, when everything’s going smoothly, a routine keeps you from getting complacent. It reminds you that creativity is a journey, not a destination. It’s the engine that keeps you moving forward, the compass that keeps you on course.

But the real test of a routine is in the stormy days. When the odds are stacked against you, when every fiber of your being is screaming at you to throw in the towel, that’s when your routine steps up. It becomes the beacon of hope in the darkness, the rhythm that carries you forward. It’s the quiet voice whispering, “Just keep going.”

The truth is, creativity isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. It’s not always a walk in the park. Sometimes, it’s a trek through the wilderness. But no matter the weather, no matter the tide, you keep going. Because you have a routine. Because you know that the creative journey isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain.

So, let’s hear it for routines: the unsung heroes of our creative journeys. They’re the steady drumbeat, the constant pulse, the rhythm of our creative lives. They keep us moving, keep us striving, keep us creating, no matter the circumstances.

Conclusion

Well, here we are, at the end of our little journey through the world of routines. And what a ride it’s been! If there’s one thing I hope you take away from all this, it’s this: creativity isn’t a spark in the dark; it’s a flame kept alive by the fuel of routine.

Remember my early startup days? Without a routine, I was like a ship lost at sea. But once I got my bearings, once I set my course and stuck to it, everything changed. I was no longer drifting aimlessly; I was sailing towards my destination. And that, my friends, is the power and importance of routine in creativity.

Routines give our creative pursuits structure, turning the abstract into the tangible. They keep us grounded, reminding us that creativity isn’t just about grand gestures and big breakthroughs; it’s about showing up, day in and day out, doing the work.

And as for that old chestnut about routine killing creativity? Well, I think we’ve busted that myth wide open. Routine doesn’t stifle creativity; it fuels it. It’s the lifeline that keeps our creative fires burning, no matter the conditions.

So here’s to your “boring” routine – the unsung hero of your creative saga. Whether you’re a painter, a writer, a designer, or an entrepreneur, your routine is your secret weapon. It’s the magic formula that turns ideas into reality, dreams into achievements. But don’t worry, your secret’s safe with me.

And as we part ways, remember this: creativity is a journey, and every journey needs a roadmap. So embrace your routine, stick to it, even when the going gets tough. Because it’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey. And with a solid routine in your arsenal, you’re well on your way.

About the Author: Geoffrey Byers
Geoffrey is one of the world's foremost Designers. He is also a Serial Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, and Mad Scientist. Hypothesis-Driven experimentation is his love language.