The Maker’s Routine

Photo by Content Pixie on Unsplash

Makers need time to work on passion projects. Finding a way to fit this between life’s numerous obligations can seem impossible.

But it can be done. With a simple, repeatable daily routine.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.


You may have tried a daily routine once, and eventually departed from it, like a New Year’s resolution in February. Maybe it wasn’t fun. Or rewarding. Or other responsibilities seemed to just get in the way.

In a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, Phillippa Lally concluded that on average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic.

Two months is quite a long time.

So how can we set ourselves up for success when attempting to build a routine?

Keep it simple

Don’t try to cram in long blocks of hours to accomplish a huge task. Break it up into smaller sprints.

When transitioning from lawyer to novelist, John Grisham woke up each day at 5am to write one page of his first book A Time to Kill. Three years later his book was published and a New York Times bestseller.

One page a day is about 200 words, or about 1,000 words a week. Do that for two years, and you have a novel.

Grisham repeated this process for his breakout hit The Firm, and with over 40 novels under his belt continues to write one page a day during his daily regimen.

Want to try an exercise in short, focused tasks? Try out the Pomodoro Technique, a time management methodology invented by Francesco Cirillo.

Be consistent

Are you a morning person? Great! Build your routine around your morning.

You’re a night owl? Excellent! Do your routine late at night.

The time doesn’t matter. What matters is consistency. Experiment with different schedules. Find what works for you.

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.

Navy Adm. William H. McCraven

Navy Admiral Wlliam H. McCraven delivered this quote during his speech as the commencement address to the graduates of The University of Texas at Austin on May 17, 2014.

The power of doing such a small thing every day is deceiving. It’s done consistently at the same time every day — first thing in the morning. It sets you up for the rest of your tasks throughout the day. Every day you will have that sense of consistency, and the next routine will fall into place.

Make it flexible

When blocking your time, consider allowing for changes to the routine. Maybe Mondays are for brainstorming instead of building. Block out time for exercise or meditation. Change it up.

Life is long, if you know how to use it.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca, On the Shortness of Life

Tim Ferris is a ruthless scheduler. But he actually puts very few things on his calendar. A typical day has only one four hour block for work-related tasks. But the rest of the day is far from idle. It’s just flexible enough to keep it interesting. His goal is to spend as much time possible doing what he wants by maximizing his output in minimal time.

My current routine

My daily routine is constantly changing. I currently have a 10-month-old in the house, so very early consistent tasks are off the table. And with the Coronavirus, my Jiu-Jitsu gym is closed, so there’s no training. Schools, daycares, and camps are also closed so I’m homeschooling my two elementary school-aged kids in the morning.

A routine for time management has never been more important.

5:30am — wakeup
6am — make coffee, breakfast for the family
6:30-7am — exercise/meditate
7am — bullet journal day
7-9:30am — teach/play with kids
9:30 — baby nap time
9:30-10:30am — work/side-projects/meditate/cook/clean/play
11:30am-12pm — lunch
12-5pm — work
5-6:30pm — cook/eat dinner with the family
6:30-8pm — baths & family time
8-8:30pm — relax
8:30-10:30pm — work/side-projects/write/draw
10:30pm — bedtime

You can see that many of my time blocks are pretty flexible. Depending on the day, I may feel like meditating or exercising in the morning. And if I have some work that needs to be addressed early, I’ll tackle that when the baby is sleeping. Our family eats together every meal. And I like to cook.

The important thing is I have consistent blocks of time for doing the things I love. There are plenty of opportunities to make things without letting life’s responsibilities get in the way.

How are you managing your time as a maker? Hopefully, with a consistent routine, you’ll find you can block out time each day for the things you’re passionate about.

Thanks for reading, and keep making! 🚀