The difference between my life before and after discovering the power of routines is a clear as night and day. Holding space for the activities that spark creative thinking and foster new ideas is a key element for creating sustainable success in business and life.
It may seem like routines are designed to be consistent, and this is true — good routines are consistent. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t change over time. Routines are meant to evolve as we evolve, just like the world around us.
I’ve found routines to be priceless as a startup founder. In the two years since starting SkyBell, a Wi-Fi video doorbell that lets users answer the door from their smartphones, my routines have evolved as the company, my role in it and my life outside it changes. Here are a few ways I’ve changed my routines in order to spark creative thinking and stay in a mindset that is always open to new ideas.
Wake Up Early
Many successful and creative people in the world share one common thread: they all wake up early. I now wake up earlier and understand exactly this is true.
Waking up early allows you to “take care of yourself first” by giving you more time to do the things that make you happy – the things you usually skip while racing about your day. Start planning your perfect morning and wake up early to live it.
Not a morning person? Don’t worry. By sticking with a good routine, you can become one. A quick tip is to change your wake-up time incrementally over the course of a few weeks by 30-minute blocks. Also, ear plugs and the F.lux app can help you get to sleep easier.
Maximize Your Mornings
Challenge your conventional morning routine by getting up an hour earlier and enjoying your ideal morning. The goal is not to better plan how long it takes to shower and get out the door — this is about scheduling time for meaningful things that create a healthy mindset and spark your creativity.
Need some ideas? Reading is a great way to learn new ideas that spark curiosity and imagination. Journaling and creative writing are perfect for activating your creative side. You can also exercise. I’ve recently started doing stretching and breathing exercises to create space and energy in my mind and body, while focusing on what I intend to accomplish that day.
A consistent meditation practice is by far the most powerful thing I’ve ever added to my daily routine.
Life is complex enough without the physical and mental demands of starting a company. It’s so easy to get lost in your head and the stories and thoughts that you believe to be true. Meditating is the best way to clear your mind and settle into the person you are without your stories, your startup and your definitions. When we calm our mind from judgment, we become a blank slate that is open to all ideas and possibilities.
After many years of practice, I’ve recently evolved my meditation routine to include more mantras, instead of trying to “empty” my mind. Rather than shutting down all my thoughts, I focus on intentions and mantras that keep me aligned with what I’m trying to create on a daily basis. Meditation is personal, so find out what works for you. Guided meditations are a great way to start.
Learn a New Sport
Spark creativity by activating new parts of your brain through learning a new sport. This will force your brain and body to think and react differently – with great results for your creative mindset.
Instead of continuing my normal workouts, I recently started boxing. My brain is learning new hand-eye coordination and footwork techniques, all while reacting to another person. Moving my body and improvising with my mind has quickly strengthened my creativity and expression.
Learning a new sport will also give you a renewed sense of your power to create something from nothing. Isn’t that what creativity is all about? When you learn a sport, you start from absolute zero. One step at time, you learn a level of mastery that didn’t exist before you started. This creative energy flows into your work and the confidence you gain from learning something new gives you more confidence in acting on new ideas.
Routines are an evolutionary tool that should be maximized through experimentation and testing. There is no doubt that to the degree I experiment with my routines is the degree to which I evolve as a person – becoming open to new ideas and fostering the creativity to bring them to life as a founder. Change up your routines and see what possibilities unfold!