After looking at a recent post on Podio.com, I realized that I have something in common with creative geniuses from around the world. No, it isn’t my unique talent for writing sonnets, painting portraits, or composing symphonies. It’s my inherent need to schedule out my day. (Note: if you go to the Podio website, the original version of this post, you can click on the portions of the day to see what exactly the creators were doing).
I spend a lot of time organizing my daily schedule. If you take a glance at my agenda, each day is neatly organized with to-do lists, events, and important reminders. But after looking at the above infographic, detailing the daily minutiae of famous artist’s lives, I began to wonder: what do I do with the tiny, unscheduled moments of my day? Does my schedule have anything in common with these inspiring creators? I decided to map a day in my life, and find out.
For most of the creative people on this list, midnight to one means sleep. For me, unfortunately, it is often the time of laying in bed, staring at the ceiling, and wondering if I’ve forgotten to do any homework. I have the most in common with Nabokov, author of Lolita, who spent this hour “trying to sleep.”
During the pre-dawn hours I’m usually blissfully asleep, only woken up by the tolling of my alarm and the reminder that I need to get up and shower. Not so for many of our creative idols. Many of them were up and hard at work before the dawn; Balzac, apparently nocturnal, began working at one in the morning. I am consoled by the fact that I sleep in as “late” as Strauss and Tchaikovsky, so I must be doing something right.
This is my time to prepare for the day, which means breakfast and coffee–lots of coffee. I sit on my couch and wake up, listening to the news while checking Twitter and juggling a bowl of oatmeal and a mug of caffeine. Eventually, I get up, shower, and usually throw everything into my bag in a hurry because I am now running late. It turns out I have a lot in common with our genius friends here: most of them spent some time gearing up for the day before running full-tilt into creative work. Maya Angelou enjoyed having coffee with her husband, while Beethoven preferred going it solo, with precisely 60 coffee beans to his cup. I’m not quite that precise; a bit of vanilla creamer and a Keurig coffee are good enough for me.
9:30 AM-12:15 PM
Creative Work/Day Job
I wasn’t quite sure how to define my work in the classroom, because so much of our work as students is creative, especially in the performing arts field. I would argue that time spent in class is adding to our creative process, so I’ll deem it as such. After all, those geniuses who worked day jobs (and they were few in number, according to this chart), only spent a brief amount of time there. Perhaps I have the most in common with Mozart, who split his morning between composing and teaching the students that he required to fund his artistic adventures.
This time is usually spent eating my hastily packed lunch, and reviewing items or writing for my work at the paper. Usually I find myself in the newsroom. That means picking at food while staring at a computer screen and typing. I envy the lazy lunches of many of our geniuses, like Emmanuel Kant, who spent his at the pub with wine and friends. It sounds like a lovely break in a busy day!
Day Job/Creative Work
Again, this depends on the business of the day. Often I’ll remain in the newsroom or working until class, but some days I will take this time to work on my novel. The genius’ use of time varied in the afternoon: some of them spent the time working, while others used it to relax and be with family or friends. Voltaire took the afternoon to ride his estate with his steward. Victor Hugo spent lazy afternoons with his mistress. I have nothing so exciting. The most adventuresome task I might undertake? A nap.
Creative Work/Day Job
Class, again. And again, split between creative work and day job. So I’ll reference both.
Ah, the blessed afternoon! I use this gap time to either write, or go and play outside. I am a big fan of long walks and yoga, so I might take the afternoon off to do one of these options. If my day is particularly crazy, I might use this time to study. But I’d rather be enjoying the sunshine. It seems many of the artists agree with me. Milton, Kant, Beethoven, Darwin, Dickens, Freud, Nabokov, Mann, Strauss, and Kafka all took regular afternoon strolls. I’m clearly in good company. One of the main reasons for a walk is to clear your mind and to get fresh perspectives. Dickens took his walks around London, where he discovered many images that would fuel his stories. Perhaps I’ll be struck by the same kind of inspiration on my evening strolls.
Time to bolt down dinner before rehearsal. I usually prepare something quick and easy in my apartment. It seems that I differ here from most of the artists. They tend to have long, leisurely dinners with family and friends. Kurt Vonnegut enjoyed a scotch and listening to music while making supper. Beethoven spent his evenings at the tavern, reading a newspaper. Perhaps I shall strive in my after-college life for this sort of luxurious dinner time. For now, I’ll have to make do with scrambled eggs in the apartment.
I spend the majority of the evening in rehearsal, which I’ll describe as creative work. Only a few artists seem to give in to their creative impulses in the evening. Mozart preferred to compose in the twilight hours, and Picasso painted into the night. Voltaire did a bit of writing in the evening, and Darwin took his bedtime to lie awake and solve problems. But for the most part, the artists seem to have spent the hours in leisure pursuits, or in sleeping. Mary Flannery O’Connor seems to get the award for most leisurely schedule: she went to bed at 8:30 p.m., woke up at 6:30 a.m., and spent 12-8:30 p.m. in leisure pursuits.
When I finally get home in the evening, it’s time to relax. Unless I have to rush to do homework, I will take a bath, read a book, and get in bed to try to fall asleep. I also often journal to work out some of my thoughts from the day–call me Darwin. Most of the geniuses are sitting up working (Voltaire began to write around midnight, and Picasso went in for another round of painting), or asleep. Unfortunately, any work I do after 11 p.m. tends to turn into gibberish.
So, how do I measure up to the geniuses? Like many of the creative spirits, I spend a large portion of my day doing some form of creative work. Surprisingly, though, most of the geniuses spend a larger amount of time at leisure than the average OCU student. I would imagine they’re giving their brains a break, and after seeing their schedules and knowing of their success, I might try to do the same for myself. The maxim of “early to bed, early to rise” also seems to hold true for many of those on the list. As a college student with a busy rehearsal schedule, that’s simply not possible. However, I was pleased to see that many of them had a ritual which they followed in the morning to start their day off right.
After comparing myself to this list, I’m left with a sense of the importance of those minuscule moments of the day. So often, we use our free time to hop onto Instagram or Twitter of Facebook, wasting precious moments blindly staring at a screen. These geniuses scheduled their time in a productive way. I hope to use my free little moments to do something productive. Perhaps I’ll be inspired on a walk, like Dickens. Or maybe I’ll take an ice cold bath to jolt my system awake, like Hugo. Okay, I probably won’t do that. Still, much can be learned through looking at the daily lives of those geniuses who we often see as unfathomable. Really, they’re just a step away from our lives here at OCU.
So, how does your schedule stack up? Who are you the most similar to? Let me know how we compare.