I’ve always been a structured person for a few reasons. Firstly I’m very passionate about what I do. It doesn’t matter if I’m cutting the grass or making lasagna for the family. If there’s a job, chore or task to do, I’m all in!
Why? Because I’ve found it’s the best way to get things done efficiently. It maximizes my time so I can do other things like watch football on Sunday, or chase my two kids around the house while wearing a Grinch mask.
Another thing you may not know about me is I love routines! Having a ‘daily pattern’ helps me take care of what’s important and eliminates decision making which can consume a lot of my time. Now be sure you go back and read that last sentence. The key phrase there is ‘a daily pattern that helps me take care of what’s important’!
Distractions come all many shapes and forms. They are nasty little parasites that try to put a dagger in my productivity. In most cases I can quickly recognize many of their faces but every once in a while they’ll fool me.
‘The secret of your future is in your daily routine’ - Mike Murdock
Here’s a short story about distractions and how they can disguise themselves.
About four years ago my wife and I took a financial course. We learned a lot about money and how to get out of debt. One lesson we took to heart was letting go of things in our life that we truly do not need like the premium cable package with 500 channels the we never watch. And the $200 a month wireless phone bill which is very excessive if you are carrying around debt with high interest rates.
So, what did we do? We started budgeting every month. We also got rid of cable and turned an $85 month bill into an $8 a month Netflix package. The iPhones were sold on eBay and we purchased two $20 flip phones that reduced our monthly bill to $60. I felt like I was living in the dinosaur ages! What would I do without a cable box and my precious iPhone?
Here’s the thing. A few months later we adjusted to the new routine. Netflix was cool and I eventually learned how to text on a flip phone using my two fat thumbs. Life was good again!
The parasite rises again
Fast forward to November 2018. Yes, last month! We finally see the light at the end of the tunnel! The debt is 95% gone and will be out of our lives for good in a few months. What did we do to celebrate? We bought new iPhones!
So, why does this matter and what does it have to do with a routine?
Listen up! Here’s where things get interesting.
My art/work routine goes like this…
- I wake up early and start my day at 5AM. Yes, that’s insane for many of you to comprehend but for me I love it! No one is awake, the house is quiet. I can collect my thoughts and take ten minutes to relax on the couch and enjoy a cup of warm Joe with my son wanting me to portray a villain while he saves the family beating me with a broom stick.
- From 5:30 - 6:30 I go over my to-do list, then blog. Starting my day like this helps remind me of what needs to be done and my website continues to grow as another useful blog post is added for visitors like yourself.
- I paint from 6:30 - 9 AM. This is my creative time! Painting and creating satisfies my soul and will help me through the rest of my daily routine. You have to remember that I paint and teach. Teaching requires a lot of time so I have to make sacrifices. And that means only painting two and a half hours a day, Monday - Friday.
- Hopefully, you get the point! My day is structured in this manner. Blocks of time are spent doing very specific tasks that I feel are most important for for achieving goals.
Remember the new iPhone I told you about?
Guess what that did? It became a distraction! A time-sucking parasite! Now that I have an iPhone I’m receiving updates from sites like Instagram. Who's the new follower? Who unfollowed me?
Then I have to go and browse the latest posts, heart a few images and perhaps leave a comment, or two. Maybe I should respond to a comment that was left last night?
While the phone is in my hand I may as well check out ESPN to see if they’re posting any news about my favorite team. Why not text the wife to say ‘hi’ even though she’s downstairs homeschooling my daughter?
My routine is now off which means my productivity suffers! Now I have to spend valuable time making unnecessary decisions that have nothing to do with what’s really important.
One feature I do love about the iPhone is the weekly screen recap. It tells me how much time I spend looking at my iPhone. Ha, that was a reality check for sure.
The first week I spent an hour and fifteen minutes per day on Social media! Wow! That’s just insane! Don’t get me wrong, I love my peeps (are people still saying that?) and I want to keep up with their posts but at what cost?
Three reasons to have a routine
- Productivity - Getting #^@* done! A good routine will outline the tasks you need to work on. This is different for each of us depending on where you are in your art. For some it could be learning to draw better while others need to focus on color mixing. The point here is you spend quality time doing the things that need attention.
- Spend less time making decisions - When you carefully design a routine it will eliminate the need the guesswork. The time it takes to twiddle your thumbs, scratch your head, and pace back-and-forth in the studio wondering what to do next.
- Break bad habits - When you have a routine you will notice when the little demons pop up and try to distract you. They stick out like a sore thumb for those that have structure. Then you can squash them and get back to your daily pattern.
It didn’t take long to get behind on important tasks when I purchased the iPhone. Certain things were pushed back days because I spent time making decisions on social media.
I let something silly like an iPhone wreck my routine. It stole five and a half hours of time for two weeks straight! I can’t get that time back but I can eliminate this nonsense moving forward.
My routine is back on track. In other words my iPhone notifications are turned off for good while I work! I only use it in the studio for filming and taking stills.
My routine keeps me focused on what’s important. But it also gives me more free time! Why? Because I no longer have to spend quality time making decisions.
You will be surprised at how much time is wasted making silly decisions. I eliminate decision making as much as I can throughout my daily art routine by properly crafting my to-do list and sticking to it!
Being consistent has helped me achieve a lot in my life and it continues to reward me with more free time to do the things I love.
There are moments in my day where the routine doesn't matter as much. But having structure has afforded me those moments and I can relax and take time to be a Dad for my two children, and a present husband for my awesome wife!
Plus I can be in the moment while doing this because I know I've taken care of the weighty things thanks to my routine!
As for Instagram I have finally fit that into my routine. I check it out for five minutes right before I start to paint in the morning. And this is when I post as well. And I spend ten minutes checking out the folks I follow after I put the kids to bed at night. But rest assured it does not take away from my art career.
So, what parasites are making you waste valuable time making silly decisions?
Can you develop a routine that will give you more time with your art and loved ones? After all, that’s what a routine does and why thousands of successful people have them!
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