How to Make Meaning In Your Day

 

morning work

Over the years, whether it was acting in LA or working virtually these days, many people have either commented or asked me how I get so much done.

I use to just shrug it off, assuming that because I wasn’t dating anyone and I didn’t have kids, that it was only natural I’d be productive.

Not so. I’m 100% positive there are plenty of family people out there who are even more productive than me! (Not that it’s a competition… :).

 

So I can’t tell you how they get everything done, but let me share something that’s really been working for me over the last eight months…

My Morning Creativity Practice.

(In fact, I’m writing this article during my practice today! :)

 

Have you ever planned to spend an hour or two working on a creative project in the afternoon, and then LIFE happened—and you never got around it? Yeah, me too.

The Morning Practice enables you to tackle the stuff that really matters to you before the real day begins!

 

So what is it? Here’s the long and short of it:

  • You get up an hour earlier than you normally do and focus on the creative work that is important to you!
  • This isn’t about the marketing of your creative work, or responding to emails about your creative work—this is the time you actually create!

 

When it comes to our creative work, we often think “maybe I’ll get to…” which often turns into “no.” The truth is by the end of the day, many of us simply want to relax.

As Reverend Ike said, “I’ve heard of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. But I’ve never heard of Someday.”

So, what is the biggest practical change we can make to find the time and the energy to start living our best life? We want to engage our creative process first thing in the morning!

Whether it’s writing, music, or painting, whatever your creative discipline, you must actually create during this time.

 

Here’s a quick video I shot in South Carolina talking about my morning practice! (It’s kinda dark ’cause it’s so early…. :)

 

How to Start a Morning Creativity Practice:

  1. Commit to this practice – whenever you need it – and get up an hour before the real day starts.
  2. Make sure to forgive yourself when you don’t get up, and just re-commit to tomorrow, or the next time.

 

Quick note on #2: if you find you’re skipping/missing this practice for several days in a row, check in and see why that is: is there something you’re avoiding? Resistance coming up? Does this practice actually serve you right now?

Maybe it makes sense to press “pause” on the practice, or maybe it makes sense to really and truly commit 100%: you decide! :)

(I’ve found the forgiveness/examination route to be of great use on any kind of practice you want to incorporate into your life!)

 

3 Reasons Why to Start a Morning Creativity Practice:

  1. You’ll get a lot of work done.
    1. By eliminating distractions and working with a fresh mind, you’ll get more done than if you attempt to work later in the day when your brain has already been put to task with the ins and outs of daily life.
  2. You’ll make use of your sleep thinking (REM sleep).
    1. While you are asleep, your mind is diligently working to solve problems for you. Start to take advantage of this process by asking questions about your creative project as you fall asleep. It’s important to note here, you are not actively trying to solve the problem or answer the question. Rather, it is a kind of wonder and curiosity. Simply ask the question you need answered with wonder and detachment, and fall asleep with confidence, knowing that your brain is at work finding solutions for you.
    2. You can give yourself a sleep prompt (to put yourself into your work): as you’re going to bed, drop in the thought, “I wonder what would happen…” (this can actually help with falling sleep, too: most people stay awake because they are worrying about work!)
  3. You’ll have the experience of having made some meaning on that day.
    1. Even if the rest of the day is less than spectacular, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you made progress on your major creative project before starting anything else!

Bonus #4: if you commit to this every day, that’s 7 more hours every week devoted to your craft!! You’ll be so productive it’ll be crazy! :)

 

Caveats and Other Bits of Wisdom:

You may need to move things to other parts of the day: meditation, exercise, journaling – that first hour is too important to a creative person.

Mistakes and messes are part of the process – only a small percent will turn out well. Humans want to instinctually skip the stuff that doesn’t work. But you can’t get to the good stuff without doing the bad stuff in between. We do not enjoy that idea. :)

Some things will work, and some things will not: this is the nature of the process

You need to prove the exception. Most creative people don’t succeed, work hard enough, don’t help themselves enough, don’t show up and do the work – you want to be the exception and do a better job than the next artist!

You want to prove your own best friend and advocate, and you want to do this in a healthy way. It may be exceptional to work for 48 to 72 hours straight (as Picasso was known to do), but it’s not healthy.

Stand out in a way that is abundant and healthy. Prove to be the exception and live a completely healthy life at the same time. Most artists don’t help themselves enough. They often don’t show up, and then beat themselves up about it.

 

The Proof is in the Pudding!

(or: Maybe You Don’t Need This)

If when you are creating (whether it’s at night or in the afternoon) works for you, then you don’t necessarily need the morning practice.

But for most people, it’s the only time.

 

One last point…

For many forms of creative work, it really can be helpful to work on the computer once we’ve gotten going—otherwise, we end up with notes all over the place.

Don’t feel that because of this practice you’re “cheating” with the computer or other gadgets (I kinda did)—just don’t get distracted! ;)

Every now and then, you may want to do some “blue-sky thinking,” where you go walk along the beach with a notepad—and then you get back to the computer and record/organize it all!

 

Here’s to Making Meaning in your days!!

***

 

If you enjoyed this, you might want to check out Your Best Life in the Arts with Eric Maisel (affiliate link) – much of the info above was taken directly from my class notes! :)

You can even watch an interview Eric did describing his course.

 

What would you create in your Morning Practice? Have you already been using this system?

I’d love to hear your response + any other thoughts you have below.

 

Looking forward to learning more!
Nathan

 

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About

Former life: actor/office worker/virtual assistant; lived in Los Angeles for 11 years. Since then: sold nearly everything, took a $5 flight to Hawaii, lived there for 3 months, wrote an eGuide about all of it, and still traveling. Currently: digital nomad - looking to improve myself, have fun and serve others.

Posted in creativity, fundamentals, productivity
4 comments on “How to Make Meaning In Your Day
  1. Patty Tanji says:

    Thanks for the brilliant reminders! I love this especially #2 (the first one:-)…don’t beat yourself up about missing #1….just re-commit! I am in the process of creating a training program for me, and the rest of the world, and am having trouble staying on task. There is a lot of research and its easy to get distracted. I can use these ideas when I’m creating my notes and ideas for the program! Love this, love your work, love your enthusiasm.

    • Nathan says:

      baby steps with your work, patti – and using the dynamic tension of *only* having an hour in the morning may allow you to be even more productive than before. there’s no time for distractions – you only got 60 minutes! ;)

      i’ve found re-committing to be SO IMPORTANT. and it’s definitely about cultivating the easy attitude toward when we fall off the horse. just get up, dust ourselves off, and get back on!

      excited for what you’re creating and thanks so much for the positivity and gratitude! :)

  2. Graça Paz says:

    Very verry importante in my process of creation since i paint but i need to write to, and i usually do it by nigth because my kids wore at sleep but now iam goint to do it this way. I already start it. Nothing comes to us by coincidence.
    Thank you and a kiss from Portugal

    • Nathan says:

      awesome! love it – thanks so much for sharing and i wish you ALL THE BEST with all your creative endeavors! :)

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Hi, my name is Nathan Agin. I love to travel and live as healthy as I can while doing it. I've been on the road since 2010 and see no end to this way of life. Every day I meditate, exercise, eat lots of natural foods, and do a few other practices to keep me going! I strive to be healthy anywhere, and am excited to share how YOU can do this, too— wherever you are!

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