As an entrepreneur who is an interior designer, I find that structure and order are the cornerstones for creativity and innovation.
One of the misconceptions I face, is some people believe that creative types do not operate in a world of structure and an orderly fashion. For me, I have to have structure to my days, my weeks, my months, and my years in order to make time and space for creativity and innovation.
In her book, The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it for Life, Twyla Tharp states, "A lot of habitually creative people have preparation rituals linked to the setting in which they choose to start their day. By putting themselves into that environment, they start their creative day.
In the end, there is no ideal condition for creativity. What works for one person is useless for another. The only criterion is this: Make it easy on yourself. Find a working environment where the prospect of wrestling with your muse doesn't scare you, doesn't shut you down. It should make you want to be there, and once you find it, stick with it. To get the creative habit, you need a working environment that's habit-forming. All preferred working states, no matter how eccentric, have one thing in common: When you enter into them, they compel you to get started."
My schedule is based on my core values for me personally, my business, my relationship with my partner, and my other relationship in my life. My calendar is one of my best friends. It is my experience, that I have a full and meaningful life when I put the activities that are most important to me on the calendar and schedule everything else around them.
I am also big on blocking out chunks of time to complete tasks. For example, every Friday morning from 10AM - 2PM, I am focused on marketing. This includes: writing one blog post twice per week (a new goal for 2018); scheduling my social media post for the following week using Hootsuite; creating email marketing; updating the website; and reaching out to potential partners to collaborate on projects together. I know this time each week is dedicated to marketing. In addition, it gives me a starting time and a finish time, so I know exactly how long I have to complete the task and do not keep working obsessively.
Everyday starts the same for me. I wake up at 6 AM with the help from my rescue dogs, Jinx and Joe. The dogs go for their morning walk. Then, they are fed their gourmet food from Food Just for Dogs. Next, I prepare coffee and breakfast for my partner and I. We received the gift of a NutriBullet in November, so I have had fun being adventurous and trying new recipes each day. Everyday, I sit in a chair and engage in a mindfulness meditation to start my day. Finally, I shower with my favorite Jo Malone products and get dressed. There are some successful people that chose to wear a uniform each day, like Steve Jobs and his black turtleneck. For me, I keep a very small wardrobe of the finest clothes. It is one less thing to distract me, one less decision, and one less time and thought consuming activity in an already full day.
Now, my day officially begins. From 9AM - 10AM, I answer emails. I don't answer emails again until 4PM - 5PM. I find this allows me to be fully engaged in whatever tasks are on my plate for the day.
Many people ask what a typical day looks like for me. Well, being an entrepreneur and a designer, other than the scheduled important things leaves room for a whole host of opportunity. This is why being structured and organized allows me to specifically devote to certain tasks. It can range from reviewing drawings for a project, critiquing a design concepts, meeting with vendors, being on a job site, meeting with clients, and ensuring each project is well orchestrated.
At noon each day, I stop and have lunch. Somedays, that might be a business lunch where I am meeting with a real estate agent, custom home builder, architect, or client to build authentic relationships that often fun-loving, creative, and fun-filled. Other days, it might be stopping to share a meal with a friend. I also have a snack mid morning and mid afternoon to ensure I am fuelly my body with the energy I need to be at my best.
Breaks: Yes, I take breaks throughout the day. I plan one for the morning and one for the afternoon. This gives me time to quiet my mind, recharge, and be more present in each activity.
At 5PM, I leave the office and head home to take the dogs for another walk and feed them their evening meal. I have my phone set on Do Not Disturb from 5PM - 9AM. This allows me to be fully present with my time with my partner or with others.
Fitness is one of my values, so Mondays and Wednesdays, I have a one-hour private Pilates session at Equinox in West Hollywood. Fridays, it is a Vinyasa Flow class at their yoga studio, and a Yin Yoga and Meditation class on Sunday nights to prepare me for the week. These are scheduled on my calendar and everything else is schedules around them.
Confession: I talk a power nap for 30 - 45 minutes each day after work. This gives me a little boost of energy to continue strong for the rest of the day.
We value generosity. Usually three to four night a week, my partner and I are attending an event. They range from: charity benefits; art gallery shows; theatre; dance; fine dining with friends; networking events; and anything else that we mutually agree aligns with our values for our relationship.
Another one of the values of our relationship is intimacy. The nights that we are home, we love cooking together (he is the cook) and sharing about our days together. Recently, we started sharing what we are most proud of from that day. This gives us the opportunity to celebrate together our success of each day. Crawling into bed with our two dogs is a luxury we enjoy every night. We might watch a little television, or I am fond of reading before bed. One of the rituals that is a bookend of my day is my meditation practice. After I have showered at the end of the evening, I spend 20 minutes in silent meditation before going to bed.
In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown's Guidepost #7 for living wholeheartedly is cultivating play and rest: Letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth.
“Respecting our biologically programmed need for play can transform work. It can bring back excitement and newness to our job. Play helps us deal with difficulties, provides a sense of expansiveness, promotes mastery of our craft, and is an essential part of the creative process. Most important, true play that comes from our own inner needs and desires is the only path to finding lasting joy and satisfaction in our work. In the long run, work does not work without play.”
Being that we both are both busy professionals, our time together is valuable. We dedicate Friday night as our date night. That can be going out to a nice meal or staying home and having food delivered. This is our time together. No cell phones. No emails. No phone calls. Saturdays are our day together doing something we want to do together. We find adventure in the mundane tasks of house and yard work. We may go see a movie, play, musical, or dance concert. If the mood strikes us, a jaunt up Runyon Canyon is always a treat. Even though I am the very orderly and structured one in the relationship, this is the day that I am flexible and go with the flow. Not everything must be scheduled!
Saturday mornings, every week, I go to see my barber for a haircut and shave. This is one of the most relaxing and luxurious experiences. It is the old fashioned, gentleman's barbershop complete with the hot towels, lather, and a straight razor. For me, it is a real treat that I look forward to each week.
Sundays, are my day of rest. Paul typically has open houses in the afternoons, so I might use this time for self-care. Some weekends, I schedule spa services. I love getting a manicure, a pedicure, a facial, and a massage on an afternoon. Other times, I use this time to just be alone. I might watch a documentary on NetFlix while cuddling with the dogs, meet a friend for coffee and catch up with one another about our lives, read a book, take a walk, take a nap, or use this time alone for personal development.