You struggle with being productive. So you decide you need to establish a routine for yourself. You get real gung-ho about this routine — this is going to be the thing that changes everything! But then you fail to stick to it. So you flagellate yourself for that failure and decide what you need is a different routine. But then you don’t stick with that routine either. The cycle then repeats itself, leaving you no more productive than you were at the start.

My guest, Madeleine Dore, found herself stuck in this cycle. So she decided to start interviewing successful creative types to get their secrets to an optimal routine. Yet these folks would confide to her a different secret: they actually didn’t have a routine either.

Madeleine has come to believe something that I’ve discovered too: routines aren’t all they’re cracked up to be and you can actually still be very creative and productive even if you go about each day in a looser, more ad-hoc fashion.

Today on the show, I talk to Madeleine, who’s the author of I Didn’t Do the Thing Today: Letting Go of Productivity Guilt, about how the all-or-nothing thinking which surrounds routines can actually sabotage our effectiveness. We then discuss alternatives to keeping a strict routine that still allow you to get stuff done, including moving to a “portable routine,” taking advantage of “splodge time,” and embracing cycles and seasons in your work. We also discuss other ways to let go of unuseful productivity guilt, including setting realistic expectations and not eating the frog first.

Resources Related to the Podcast

How to Live on Twenty-Four Hours a Day by Arnold BennettAustin KleonAoM article on the “possibilities in spare moments”AoM article on Emerson, pear trees, and the seasons of lifeAoM article on famous men who took advantage of “splodge time” to become a successAoM Podcast #602: The Case for Being Unproductive

Connect With Madeleine Dore

Madeleine’s WebsiteMadeleine on IG

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The post Podcast #821: Routines Are Overrated appeared first on The Art of Manliness.

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