Welcome to Episode 3 of The Creative Life podcast. In this episode, I give you an insight into my daily rituals and how some simple daily habits contribute to my day.
Watch the Video
In this episode you’ll discover:
- My current daily rituals?
- Early risers and night owls
- Hour of Power
- Morning Pages by Julia Cameron
- My filming process
- Using virtual assistants for content creation
- Delegating your email inbox
Please leave a comment below and tell me what you think.
Welcome to The Creative Life. This is James Taylor.
Hi, it’s James Taylor here, someone was asking me the other day about my daily rituals, what I can do every day, how I structure my work day. I read a recent book by Mason Curry called, Daily Rituals. Now, I advise you to check out that book, it has the daily rituals of everyone from Mozart to Steve Jobs, to people of all different backgrounds, lots of different creative types as well.
So what I thought I would do is just film this very quick video, just kind of giving you how I structure my day, what my daily rituals are. Hopefully it would be useful to you, I would love, at the end of this, the comments below, I would love to hear your daily rituals, maybe how it changed over the years because my daily rituals have certainly changed over the years. As I start to take on more projects, and been involved in different types of businesses.
Let’s get to it.
I usually get up at around 6:30am. I’m not a natural early riser. I was always a bit of a night owl, kind of still am, but with all things that I have to do, I feel I kind of have to get up a little bit early than usual. So I’m usually up around 6:30am, and that first hour of my day, I remember reading this Tony Robbins book, his audio book years ago, and it’s called the Hour of Power. I’m a great believer in that, I’m a great believer in the idea that that first hour of the day, when the house is quiet, no one is around, that’s my time. That’s the hour for me when I can really focus on just nourishing myself. So, everyday when I get up, quick shower, have a cup of English tea, English breakfast tea, being as I am in London, do as in London. Strangely, when I used to live in California, I used to have coffee every morning, but now that I’m in London most of the time, I have tea. Don’t know quite why that is.
So I have tea, I usually have a bit of toast with some honey on it, and then after I do what I call my morning pages. I think I may have it, just here on this chair. Yeah, so I have this little book, I have lots of these little books, and every morning what I do is I sit down and I write three pages of longhand writing. Really top of mind, stream of consciousness stuff. So this came about from reading a book by a writer called Julia Cameron, and from it I know that a lot of writers, a lot of screenwriters, a lot of artists, who do this what we call the morning pages. And this is where you sit down in the morning and you write three pages of longhand, just top of mind stuff.
The way I feel about it is these pages will never be read by anyone. They’re just for me. So, it’s a mixture of a journal and just getting stuff off my mind, just kinda write things down. The other thing it does for me, personally, and I’ve spoken to a lot of other writers and they say it’s great for them, is that, it’s your muscle. Writing is like a muscle. Creativity is like a muscle, and this initial, it might take just 10 minutes or a couple of minutes to write these three pages, but it gets that muscle working. It’s a little bit of a stretch, morning stretch.
So, that’s really what I’ve done in the first hour or so of my day, first thirty minutes to an hour of my day.
Then, I kind of sit down, and here in my home here, or if I’m on my way, I like to either film, I’ll do a video, usually I’ve written one of these kind of cue cards the night before and I’ll sit down and film a quick video similar to the one you’re watching just now. Sometimes I’ll be filming, other mornings what I’ll do, I’ll switch over, and I’ll be writing about 500 to 1500 words in the next hour.
And what I do if I’m filming, to see my kind of workflow, is I take that little card that’s in this camera just now, I put it in my computer, I take that video file, I upload it to dropbox, and then my executive assistant and my video editor, my content writer, go to that video, the video editor edits the video, adds bumpers on them, anything that needs to do, does any kind of fancy graphics on that, anything to do with that as well. The content writer will transcribe what I’ve said on the video, then my executive assistant, or what I call my GVA, she will then create a blog post around this. And the video editor also uploads it to youtube for me, that needs to go to youtube. And, very quickly, within the space of the day, I film this video, it’s only taken me ten minutes to film this video, but it’s kinda gone now, then my executive tweets it out and does social media on it as well.
So that’s the next hour of my day. And then what I tend to do is take about half an hour to look at my tasks for the day, and just kind of work out what’s happening for me that day. I’m really, what I’m trying to do is identify what my three top tasks of the day are. On a Monday, I’ll also establish my top three tasks for over the week hour as well.
Once I’ve got those, I’m usually out the door, I’m 25 minutes from my office here in London, and so I head to the office. Usually, I’m on my way to the office, I listen to podcasts, or kinda work with a music artist, etc., advance recordings of albums to listen to, I listen to Spotify as well. So that 30 minutes has me taking in content as well.
When I get into the office, before I do emails, before I respond to calls, before I do anything, I spend that first 30 minutes with a cup of coffee this time, I spend that 30 minutes on my most important tasks of the day. This is the one task, I feel, if I did this task, then the rest of my day has been worth it. So, I tackle that task first before anything else gets in my way.
It’s probably worth noting here, that at this point, I still haven’t looked at my emails, I still haven’t picked up any messages, my cell hasn’t been on social media. My executive assistant, she goes through my emails, my inbox, every morning, and we have a document we go through, and it’s this and that. So if it’s this kind of email, then do that. Then if it’s this kind of email, then do that. Then forward it. And if she really has a couple off, she can either respond to the email, you know, on my behalf, she can delete the email, or she can archive it as well. And if it’s none of those things, then usually if I get about 200 emails a day, then by the time I get into the office I should look into my emails, that’s about down to 30 emails that actually need my attention.
If you’ve never used a virtual assistant, I highly encourage you that you can do that. It saves me hours in my day. I usually spend all my time on my email, now not so much really. So, after that first half hour, half 9 till 10, I work on my most important task of the day, then at 10 o’ clock, I have my call, my first team call, we have a briefing call with my online education business, cause I really have like, four different main companies, businesses I’m involved in. And so, this is like the online education, music education business I’m involved in.
So, if there’s a call, there’s usually a couple from my executive assistant, to my director of content, to our folks in Asia working on content-related stuff, to our software developers here in Europe, so there’s usually five people in that particular call. And I ask three questions to everyone on that call: What did you accomplish yesterday, what do you tend to accomplish today, and what is holding you back. And we kind of go through that for everyone as well, and I answer those kind of questions as well. So that call will normally take 15-20 minutes, I don’t intend it to be a long call, and we do it by Skype, then we’re out. Then the rest of that morning is mostly me dealing with two of my most important projects that I have for that day, I try not to do calls in the morning, I tend to try and really focus on a chunk of work I can really get my head into, reviewing legal agreements that I need to look at, or it may be strategizing on something, a new product launch that we’re having as well.
Then, usually around 1 o’ clock I break for lunch. I have the same lunch every single day. I’m incredibly boring that way. The reason is, I have an office, I have a cafe, in the building, on the ground floor of our office, and I go there and I have a veggie burrito every single day. Incredibly boring as a lunch. But, it points to a larger idea which is, as people, we have all these decisions we have to make every day. And my personal opinion, if I take one of those decisions out, what do I have for lunch, that’s a little bit of brain space that I can devote to something else. So I have the same lunch everyday. I’m a European, I take an hour for lunch, when I used to work in California, the people were aghast I would take an hour for lunch. But it’s what I do, it’s kind of who I am, it gives me the ability to press the reset button, to think maybe of the stuff I’ve been working on in the morning, to stare at the window, to daydream. That’s how I kinda use my lunch break, sometimes I’ll have some of my colleagues join me as well.
Then, in the afternoon, around maybe 2pm until 4pm, I’m in non-stop meetings. In any one week, it’s not unusual for me to have around 40 meetings over the course of the week. And these may be in-person meetings, or maybe Skype meetings as well. As my assistant noticed, I dislike meetings. I hate in-person meetings. I love being with people, I just find that most in-person meetings are a complete waste of time. So what I tend to do is my assistant knows that my preferred forms of communication is by email, and if someone want to meet with me, she’ll have them put together one page, an email, exactly what you want to know. What you want James to give you feedback on. If that doesn’t work, then she’ll schedule a Skype call with me with the person. If they really want to meet, then they can come to the office and I can meet them in person, or if I’m traveling, she organizes that as well.
So, that kind of goes from about 2pm to 4 ‘o clock, I’ll have another call. This is my second content, my second team. I have my morning meeting with my online education team, and then my second meeting, later in the afternoon at around 4 o’ clock, is with my own personal team. So I have a team of about 4 assistants now. And they are everything from content writers, to video editors, to SEO online marketers as well, so between tham and my assistant, we jump to a quick call, about 30 minutes, I ask the same questions as the last, with the previous, my other meeting with the team: what did you accomplish yesterday, what are you accomplishing today, what’s holding you back, and we go through those things.
So that’s usually the 4 o’ clock meeting. Sometimes I don’t have to do that everyday, we definitely do that on a Friday or the end of the week, sometimes the 4 o’ clock meeting is just a call with me and my assistant, where we go through how the team is getting on and if anything is holding them back. Because we’re churning out a lot of content, we’re creating a lot of content all the time, and I need to make sure everyone is knowing what they’re doing so I can do what I’m pretty good at, which is maybe doing this on-camera or writing or strategizing or coming up with new ideas for new products.
So that’s going through to about 4:45 pm, and after that point I really spend the last hour of my day maybe doing calls to the states, I have a lot of business partners in California and then in New York, so I may be on the phone with them, and I try to take the last ten minutes, couple of minute of the day, really reviewing what’s happened in the day, creating any new tasks that have to be created. Kind of setting myself up for the next day.
So normally I’m out of the office by 6pm on most days. And then I head home, I have a quick snack, then I go out actually straight to the gym. And I’ll either be in yoga class, spin class, it’ll be some kind of workout of some sort. Come back, shower, come back, and then have dinner at home, or fortunately we’re in London, we have plenty of restaurants. So I like to go to Thai restaurants, Indian restaurants, lots of Asian food as well.
So that takes me up to about 9 o’ clock, and then that last hour, hour and a half of the day, is really where I just sit down, maybe a glass of wine, maybe do a little bit of reading, and I’ve tried to have kind of a meditating ritual, to do meditation every night, and I kind of struggle with it. So I’m if you have any tips on how to meditate, some kind of system, I would love to hear from you as well in the comments. Leave some comments below. I haven’t yet managed to do that. It’s something, by the end of the day, all I wanna do is have a glass of wine and sit and read a book, and that’s just me, as well. If I’m not doing that, big movie buff, Netflix, love Netflix, and so I’ll sit down and watch Netflix in the evening as well. Usually I’m asleep by 11 o’ clock, I love my sleep, cause I’m up by 6:30 the next day, I don’t want to stay up too late. Occasionally, I’ll break this, and this is the point, if I’m doing this Monday to Friday, sometimes what I’ll do, every two weeks or so, I just say no, I’ll sleep the whole day and just do something completely different. I go to an art gallery, I go out walking, I meet with friends.
It’s important, from a creative perspective, that you’re always getting your inspiration, you’re always picking up on different things, you’re looking for connections between different ideas. You’re just feeding that creative part of you. So while I can be highly productive in doing daily rituals I spoke about, you also need to take time where you can just take a step back, get fresh inspiration whether it’s reading, going to galleries, interacting with people you might not necessarily interact with, you usually do during the course of the week, just get an inspiration really.
Those are my daily rituals. Thanks for my friend who asked me to do this, talking about daily rituals. I thought I would film this quickly. I would love to hear what your daily rituals are. And also I would love to hear how it changed over the years. My daily rituals have changed, now I’ve got a couple of different businesses I’m involved in, I’m managing multiple people, multiple teams, I had to adapt to it over time. So, what works for you? How have you integrated your daily rituals at the same time being a creative individual?