Mar 20, 2018
A solid routine fosters a well-worn groove for one’s mental energies and helps stave off the tyranny of moods.
In this episode of Made You Think, Neil and I discuss Daily Rituals by Mason Currey. In this book, Currey edits together first-hand accounts from different artists and creative thinkers of how they went about their everyday lives.
“I write when the spirit moves me,” said, “and the
spirit moves me every day.” – Faulkner.
We cover a wide range of topics, including:
And much more. Please enjoy, and be sure to grab a copy of Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey!
If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to check out our episode on 12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson for more tips on how to order your day, as well as our episode on Elon Musk to discover what rituals a modern-day success keeps.
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00:50 – Book covers daily rituals of a bunch of people, not just artists. Broad interpretation of artists, anyone who does creative or critical thinking work.
01:24 – There’s a surprising amount of drug-use in this book, lots of alcohol, and not sleeping. On the one hand this seemed undisciplined, but on the other these people did have very regular schedules. There was discipline to keep these activities in a well-worn groove.
01:53 – A hangover can make it easier to write – your brain can be more focused. In some ways it’s like the opposite of being caffeinated.
03:10 – The book has an interesting layout, there’s no attempt at narrative, each chapter is about a new person’s routine.
03:54 – Taleb keeps no routine, he doesn’t even use a calendar.
04:00 – Small gripe with books like this as these are idealized and narrativized versions of these rituals. None of them get drunk and yell at people on Twitter. Wouldn’t be surprised if they’re only true 20-50% of the time.
04:55 – Problem with a lot of the lifestyle guru type people. They don’t do all of that stuff everyday. Except Jocko, he’s never overslept in the last 15 years. His morning routine seems to be the same wherever he is.
06:02 – Maintaining a normal schedule when you travel across time zones helps you adapt way faster. The minute you go back to your hotel you’ll crash, it’s game over! Jet lag is a strange tiredness, especially if you drink coffee, like you’re wired and drunk at the same time.
08:00 – Questioning whether you can save up a store of sleep for a rainy day. Apparently you can’t front load it, but when you get into debt you need to pay it back!
08:46 – Types of polyphasic sleep. Buckminster Fuller developed dymaxion sleep, he did it for two years and he’s the only one who’s ever been able to do it. 5-10% of the population legitimately need less sleep. Everyone else thinks they’re in that group but they’re not.
09:05 – When they tried one study on polyphasic sleep the subject just crashed and they could not wake him up.
11:43 – Is it quote or quotation? Don’t want to anger the grammar people!
11:55 – Download all of our episodes to find out whether one of our team is part of the alt-right.
12:58 – Auden was popping Benzedrine all the time. He regarded it as a “labor saving device,” a daily multivitamin. In the mental kitchen alongside alcohol, coffee and tobacco.
13:40 – Were these people great producers because of these habits or despite them? Question of whether the live-fast, die-young lifestyle enhances genius.
16:22 – Personal experiences and use of some drugs. Coffee for work and productivity, micro-dosing LSD for the same. Marijuana for an after wine session. Fear of getting hooked with tobacco vs alcohol.
18:34 – Ritalin/Aterol for effortless full-speed ahead concentration.
20:12 – Doctors overprescribe Aterol – 90% of people taking it don’t need it. It’s very hard to quit, people get frustrated at never hitting the same level of quality. In some ways similar to steroids.
22:26 – The Renaissance happened when people stopped drinking beer all day and switched to coffee.
22:36 – Drinking habits around the world. Beer used to be brewed as water wasn’t safe to drink. They would steep the same grains up to four times. In Asia they would drink tea all day, which is probably why they were historically more productive than Europe.
24:55 – In sushi bars in Tokyo they have a tap of green tea. In Germany they give you beer, Americans drink water and now they’re more productive because they’re hydrated.
25:53 – Tangent – Most people who are in America now, their ancestors were the risk-takers. The people who took the initiative to leave behind everything they knew. So culturally this is ingrained.
26:59 – People used booked calls to let family on the other side of the world know they were alive before Skype.
27:40 – The history of pokes on Facebook – they would let a non-friend see your profile for a few days without actually becoming your friend.
29:10 – A significant number of people featured in the book seemed to have OCD, they were trying to control chaos. Beethoven’s coffee had to have 60 beans a cup. Kant had an extremely orderly schedule. The clock tower in town stayed on time less passionately than Kant.
32:00 – Everyone has odd habits, especially artists who spend a lot of time in their heads.
32:21 – The general impression of Benjamin Franklin is “early to bed, early to rise” but he seemed to set his 13 virtues up as goals rather than things he’d achieved. Comparing Ben Franklin to Tim Ferriss. People disapprove of others not following their own advice to the letter.
35:53 – Controversy when one updates his opinions.
36:16 – It’s surprising how few hours people worked – the bulk of the creative work was 5-6 hours a day, max. Darwin was famous for having two 3 hour work blocks. It’s hard to do creative work for longer. But good for mental energy.
38:00 – Tangent. It’s hard to be spontaneous in New York. Phone calls are scheduled a week in advance. Time management tips: set regular stand-ups, only book meetings at certain times. Color-code your calendar.
40:30 – Work environments are moving towards being more results orientated, moving away from people just sitting at their desks doing nothing. A relic of the production line. Schedule Tetris in large corporations.
43:26 – Hack. Schedule hour meetings for 40 minutes, or half hour meetings for 20 minutes. It forces people to condense.
44:58 – Data should make it easier for people to get paid based on productivity rather than time. For consulting jobs, it doesn’t make sense to charge based on time. Historically, time was the best way of measuring output and so this made sense.
47:43 – Education is also stuck in this time loop since it was originally influenced by factory organization. Most interesting ideas that end up leading somewhere come from play, from free time.
49:21 – After unsuccessfully trying for ten years in New York, Henry Miller had given up writing, when he finally wrote a novel in Paris it was published without editing, there’s sentences that just stop mid-way. Seeing from outside, it seems these creatives are able to follow a routine without anyone forcing them.
51:44 – Jordan Peterson says there’s no such thing as writer’s block. If you’re stuck it’s because you have run out of things to say, you need to unblock yourself.
53:10 – Sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends, may make you feel much more energized. Sleeping in on the weekend it’s almost like changing time zones every five days.
56:41 – Giveaways are coming, sign up for the email list.
57:03 – To remember to do important things pin a piece of paper on a different piece of your clothing, a form of mnemonics.
58:15 – When you first wake up, that’s a different person. You have to find ways of tricking him into not hitting snooze. Routines and replacement can help you get past undesirable behavior.
1:01:38 – Despite living in climate controlled environments, we still feel like it’s cold outside when it’s winter, even though it’s the same temperature where we are.
1:03:30 – Some people’s capacity for alcohol is so far beyond the average. If you’re regimented and disciplined you could physically drink a bottle of spirits a day.
1:07:15 – Sugar is like a mild form of cocaine. It’s a stimulant followed by a crash. Hormetic stressors are only “natural”.
1:09:20 – Psycho-active drugs don’t make your brain do things it can’t do, they mimic neural pathways. Maybe adaptation is down-regulating the amount of neurochemicals being released in response to the trigger. If you know, write in!
1:11:36 – Morning Working vs Night-time working theme. More of the creators were geared towards mornings but it wasn’t across the board. Evolutionarily, it doesn’t make sense for humans to want to work at night.
1:14:20 – Waking up hack. Trick yourself into getting up by telling yourself you can go back to bed in 30 minutes if you’re still tired.
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1:20:50 – The new Gilgamesh cryptocurrency is building a social network built on knowledge sharing.
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