Yesterday I found myself in the car for an extended period of time, something very rare this year. After a few stops along the way, I decided to switch attention away from the new RTJ album (so good) and switched on a recent Tim Ferriss Show with Hugh Jackman. I’ve missed listening to podcasts now that my commute is gone (really the only thing I miss) and this one was, as usual, great.
I was thinking about the beginning where he talks about what he learned from Patrick Stewart:
And he said to me that when he was about 60, he realized that he was never going to read all the books that he wanted to read in his life. He did the calculation. He decided that no matter what time his call was—let’s say he’s picked up at five—whatever time he would have woken up, he wakes up 30 minutes earlier, gets a cup of tea, and goes back to bed, and he reads. He said, “I don’t read the paper because it makes me angry. I don’t read my emails because it usually makes me anxious, gets my mind going.”
I think all the time about how I’d like to read more but there doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day.
I can make all the plans I want, but the day does inevitably get away from you, and front-loading your day with the highest priority habits—the things you want to learn or enjoy—is a solid means of giving each day a chance to be great.
“I learned that if you work hard and creatively, you can have just about anything you want, but not everything you want.” – Ray Dahlio, Principles
I can see this habit of 30 minutes a day manifest with my daughter as well. We have started to read more advanced, longer length books (we’re on a 300 page children’s novel now) and it’s surprising how quickly we get though books chipping away consistently each night.
My thing that I have been prioritizing at the moment has been drawing. I’ve been trying to do some everyday using basically the same method as Hugh describes for reading. I go on a run most days at 7am, so I make sure to wake up an hour and 15 minutes early so I can make some coffee, and have some time to draw. Sometimes I paint or sometimes I write but starting the day in this way, creating stuff, and then exercising, seems to make the rest of the day easier.
Some day, I’d like to be able to do more (draw AND write AND read) all in the same morning, but I have young kids now and am engaged heavily in my work so it’s just not possible. Maybe it’ll never be. I’d also like to do a million other things as well, but it’s good to have constraints. Life has it’s seasons and I want to enjoy this one while it’s here. Thirty-five to forty minutes per day working on my favorite activity of the moment, over time, is plenty.