A scrapbook of stuff I'm reading / looking at / listening to / thinking about...
Posts tagged "routine"
In the 1950s, the researchers William Dement and Nathaniel Kleitman discovered that we sleep in cycles of roughly 90 minutes, moving from light to deep sleep and back out again. They named this pattern the Basic-Rest Activity Cycle or BRAC. A decade later, Professor Kleitman discovered that this cycle recapitulates itself during our waking lives.
The difference is that during the day we move from a state of alertness progressively into physiological fatigue approximately every 90 minutes. Our bodies regularly tell us to take a break, but we often override these signals and instead stoke ourselves up with caffeine, sugar and our own emergency reserves — the stress hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol.
Working in 90-minute intervals turns out to be a prescription for maximizing productivity. Professor K. Anders Ericsson and his colleagues at Florida State University have studied elite performers, including musicians, athletes, actors and chess players. In each of these fields, Dr. Ericsson found that the best performers typically practice in uninterrupted sessions that last no more than 90 minutes. They begin in the morning, take a break between sessions, and rarely work for more than four and a half hours in any given day.
I was immediately reminded of John Cleese’s lecture on creativity:
Cleese specifically advocates taking 90 minutes to create space and time. It takes him about 30 minutes to calm down and open his mind, leaving an hour of creative time working on something.
Looking at a blank page of paper is pretty scary, but if you’ve got this repeatable project set out, you know what you’re supposed to do.
— Kate Bingaman-Burt
Honestly, I don’t know much about NaNoWriMo, but I think anything that helps people stick to a daily routine can’t be all bad.
I really think the day is the ultimate time unit for artists, because it’s the only really natural time unit that we can sense intuitively— the sun goes, up, the sun goes down. (Weeks are totally artificial.) If you have a shitty day, you go to sleep and start over again.
Most creative people I know either work early in the morning or late at night — those times when the rest of the world is sleeping. The Europeans have it right: afternoons are for sleeping. (Dickens said of afternoons, “I detest this mongrel time, neither day nor night.”)