It can be a challenge to plan your day and squeeze all your tasks in 24 hours. And when you are moaning that you don’t have enough time to go to the gym or to call your mother, remind yourself that you’re not the only one with a tight schedule. Going further – all legendary people, like Mozart, Tchaikovsky or Kant, probably had the same issues. But they somehow managed to get the most from their days and now we will take a closer look how did they do this.
Mason Currey took a deep look into habits of 161 famous artists in his book called ‘Daily Rituals: How Artists Work”. Currey shed some light to a typical day of work and many eccentric routines of writers, composers, painters or philosophers.
Coffee & bath
Ludwig van Beethoven couldn’t start his day without a coffee, which isn’t anything bizarre. The weirdest thing in that is that he meticulously counted 60 coffee beans to prepare it. While bathing, he was playing with jugs full of water and his hands – turning himself into a state of meditation. While this ritual worked wonders for his art, it didn’t win his popularity as a neighbour – water was very often dripping through floor!
Another great persona with love for bathing was Benjamin Franklin. Although he didn’t took inspiring baths like Benjamin Britten or long showers like Woody Allen. He preferred to take an “air bath” – where he sat in his room without any clothes on, while reading and writing.
Give yourself a break
But those are examples of bizarre habits. Author also writes about ordinary routines that we could apply to our lives like exercising, walking or taking a nap. Great minds in our history worked a lot on their artwork, but the act of creation was not the essence of it. Small breaks was something more important! Taking time off, even for 5 minutes, let them clear their minds and come up with fresh, better ideas.
Frank Lloyd Wright, an architect, used to work between 4 and 7AM. After a quick nap in the morning he didn’t work more during his day. Those three-four hours before the sunrise were the only moments when he had a clear mind and could devote himself to acts of creation. Actually, about a third of the 161 artists mentioned in the Currey’s book were waking up before 7 o’clock in the morning. Maybe it’s time to become an early bird then?
Being hungry helps
There was also one interesting pattern amongst many famous people – starving. Marcel Proust, Glenn Gould and Immanuel Kant were not the biggest fans of frequent eating. They usually ate only one meal during their day! Others ate lightweight food or did a little bit of fasting during really important days. All of them pointed out that they worked more productively on an empty stomach or after small meals. Well, we bet it’s also a great idea if you’re striving to lose some weight…
Here are daily routines of few artists from Currey’s book – infographic was made by RJ Andrews (click for a larger size):
Those time sheets can be an inspiration for you or maybe even some explanation of your work schedule (early birds vs. night owls battle has begun!). In most scenarios it’s not possible to apply those routines to your life, especially when you’re working full time. Also you have to remember that copying habits of fine artists won’t make you great all of a sudden. But it might be helpful to achieve perfection in time management. One day.