4 Creative ways to Start Your Day
1. A strategy from Hemingway
The Hemingway Bridge*
In order to avoid starting a new day with a cold, blank piece of paper, Ernest Hemingway ended his day by writing the first paragraph of a new chapter. During the evening, he considered where the paragraph might go. In the morning, he was ready to go.
One creative way to start your day is by starting it the day before.
End today by starting tomorrow.
Tomorrow’s great start begins today. End right so you can begin well.
2. Sleep on it
If you are the tenacious type it’s hard to set a problem aside. You just keep banging your head into it until you defeat the “enemy.” Give yourself a chance to move through a problem by letting go of it for a few hours. Sleeping on it often works.
People ask me how I produce fresh content everyday.
Sometimes I go to bed at night telling my brain to think over the topic for tomorrow’s post while I sleep. I find ending the day with a new beginning in mind jumpstarts productivity.
Start your day with something you put off yesterday.
3. List making
It might be useful if you end your day by creating tomorrow’s to do list.
End today by listing tomorrow’s tasks.
4. Morning Strategy Call
Try calling a friend or colleague first thing in the morning to talk over the day. Share your challenges, opportunities, concerns, frustrations, confusion, and plans. Don’t talk long. Listen to them and have them listen to you. Set a time limit for the call and stick to it.
Start your day by talking through your to do’s.
What can people do to jumpstart their day?
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*Reference: I first saw The Hemingway Bridge in “Disciplined Dreaming,” by Josh Linkner. He found it in a book by Eric Maisel.
While I am an early riser (used to be 3:00 but my trainer recommended I get more sleep so now it is 4), I find that beginning my day with some Quiet Time and then a workout at the Y (I would ride my bike but that is too dangerous around here with the hills and no bike path) helps me focus. I like the ideas you gave in #1 & #2 Dan. Will have to give them a whirl.
I always end my day by reviewing my list and creating the next day’s list. It is the best way for me to keep on top of things. I send an email to myself so I can keep a running tally.
One of he best creative jumpstarts is using the Pomodoro technique. I set my timer for 20 minutes and go. It’s amazing what you can get done in 20 minutes.
Thanks for your comment. Nothing like a time limit or deadline to fuel urgency. Great idea.
Thanks for sharing your story. I’m sure it will encourage others.
I thought I was an early riser??? Wow, 3 a.m. beats me. I can be a 4 to 6 guy myself. Very productive time for me.
Dan – Love it! I try to plan my week’s work on Sunday night, scheduling time for tasks, and making lists, but these have never addressed the “blank piece of paper in the morning” problem. This is a terrific solution that I will use immediately!
I read a lot about creativity recently for an article I was writing. One of the most interesting tips I found was to set a quota for generating ideas instead of stopping with one of your earliest thoughts and elaborating. When I really start to feel like I am scraping the bottom of the barrel I get really innovative. It’s fun to push past where I otherwise would have stopped.
Good stuff. I’m overly fond of list making. I hadn’t heard Hemingway’s strategy. Brilliant.
I’m with you on Hemingway. When I read it I knew I had to share it.
I enjoyed this post very much, particularly with the Hemingway example. I use all these methods with a slight twist to the sleep on it, that I learned from Jeffrey Gitomer – dump out all problems before going to sleep onto a notepad kept by bedside. Writing by hand is known to work on the brain more effectively, than using computer. The same goes for Lists – my brain at least will be endelibly fixed if I hand write my list, rather than plug into my computer or Blackberry. I do capture ideas that come to me – either in the night or while out and about. If I capture while out they go into Blackberry, which I then write longhand when reviewing. It is similar how I play word games, such as Scrabble -with a pad of paper and a pencil, so I can rearrange the letters. I cannot play Sukuko on a computer, but need a pencil. All our brains function differently, and neuroscientists have deternined some of us are left brain dominate – and if correct I think our right brain is the more creative, which we need to engage.
Setting a time limit is good for those that work better that way – others the time limit may be better a guide to move on to the next task. I like the idea of setting a goal for ideas – and for myself I would increase this mumber occasionally to challenge myself to find the sunken treasure.
And about getting up at 3 am – what time do you go to sleep? How many hours of sleep are you getting? I am a nightowl and have to make sure I get at least 6 hours of sleep – which is a reason the corporate world doesn’t mesh with my biological clock or best time for my creativity and productivity 🙂
Great comment. It’s always fun when people share their own story.
4 a.m. is good for me… 🙂 Maybe sleep is overrated.
Brilliant post! I’will try calling a friend tomoro for though on how its going to be. Great post Dan
I’m a list guy. I’ll often make daily or weekly “To-Dos” with various priority/action items, giving each item action steps makes them manageable and easier to implement.
I try to revisit the list every morning, and try to keep it to a “7 or Less Rule”- anything more than that is tough to finish in a reasonable time.
All the suggestions are praiseworthy. I liked the sharing your thoughts, challenges, opportunities and threats more useful and workable. When you share those thoughts, you find various ways and also get rid of unnecessary anxiety that sometimes delays decision. I belive to start my day by prioritising, managing time, allocating time and most important is setting deadlines. I believe, deadline increases speed and concentration.
People can do the things like, focussing, concentrating and creating passion to achieve those tasks. Without passion, everything seems vague and with passion, everything looks valued.
I also, believe the idea of sleeping with idea of tomorrow. That means, you allow your brain to work out on some issue. And that works, I do it. I feel that when have gained mastery to control over your brain, things look easier to manage.
I like the idea of getting some options going the night before as well. If I have things surfing around in my head as I hit the bed, they seem to keep swimming and I stay awake. Writing them down gives you both ‘permission’ to sleep and a starting point for the next day. Also like starting out the first 10-15 minutes of waking to ‘percolate’ ideas (as the coffee is brewing at the same time anyway), not get up, just organize some thoughts and if there is something to expand on, go in that direction for a while. Starts the day off positively.
Great idea, Dan. I think it’s Robert Louis Stevenson who based much of his writing on dreams where the possibilities are literally endless.
I was thinking that my blog for tomorrow morning would be something to the tune of your day starting with a” blank page”. Now you, or should I say Ernest, have given me new ways of looking at things. I greatly appreciate this as it makes so much more sense.
This is the first time I have read your blog and find it great.
Thanks for your enlightenment.
Thanks for your encouraging word.
Success to you.
I love the idea of beginning with tomorrow today. How unique and simple. I think I will give it a try for 30 days and see how my creativity improves. Thanks for this blog post.
If you think to let us all know how it works out, please stop back or send an email.
I would also say take time to think, write, and do devotions. I know for myself that if I do these things I will have a jump start to my day.
If I have a lot to do, I come up with a list. From most important to less.
Thank you for the post.
Thanks for the tips. I will have to give them a try! Getting started the next day can sometimes be difficult.
Great tips! Thanks for sharing! Definitely agree on the 1st point. Good to start your writing at night, let your brain process, then finish and clean-up the next day.
Sleeping on it is a very good way to solve a problem. If trained enough, some people manage to find solutions in an active way to problems which seemed unsolvable just the evening before. It happened to me sometimes, even if it’s nothing granted.
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These are great tips, but tips 1-3 are even more relevant for me right now, as I’m in the middle of a collaborative writing project with a specific timeline and need quick ways to get through the “bogged down” moments that (somehow) inevitably occur. Tip one is a wonderful tip, leaving a breadcrumb trail that you can mull overnight… my usual strategy is tip 2, as I naturally find things to put off til tomorrow that need to be done. The challenge of that tip is letting the list of things you’ve procrastinated on get too long (one of my foibles.) The feeling of relief and accomplishment of clearing a procrastinated task is definitely motivation to move on!
Tip 3 – the to do list – is also helpful, and a variation – for a task or problem or creative puzzle where you feel particularly “stuck”- is to make the list a breakdown of smaller solutions that might solve that particularly sticky task. I often get stalled wondering just where to begin … this would be a great tool for those moments.
Tip 4 – can also be used as an informal mentor/coach/therapy moment (and I believe that this is somewhat the intent)… and can work via e-mail as well. For instance, I can’t phone my writing collaborators because they are in very different time zones, but a quick series of e-mails going over the plans for the day with questions, issues, and a little bit of “moaning” about what’s not going so right… the encouragement, constructive criticism, reality checks and suggestions that flow back and forth in these informal, “transparent” and open e-mails between the collaborators is the kind of communication that has got us unstuck time and time again.
Thanks for the post Dan!
I will try suggestions 1 and 2, very simple and sounds effective
Thanks for sharing
Great post and comments, Dan. Here are a couple of things you can add to the Hemingway part. You show him sitting at a desk, which means he was either doing paperwork or editing, but not writing. Hemingway worked at a standup desk. I’ve stolen that idea and it’s how I do writing and serious project work. My laptop fits nicely on a heavy duty music stand.
Hemingway also had a “start-up” ritual that he did before he began to write. For every work session he sharpened seven fresh, new pencils and then set to work.
Today, I started my day, well actually last night I started today. What a great suggestion. I woke up feeling energized and ready to go.
If you don’t mind, some day I may retweet you on my blog
Love the Hemingway bridge suggestion-also the post about 2-year-olds made my day. Good stuff, DAN!
I love this!
This is excellent! I really like the idea of starting the day off with a strategy call. It is encouraging and energizing! Thanks for the great post!
It’s funny you should post this. I’m a writer and actually use this technique–it’s a very good way to prevent writer’s block. I’m sure it can be used to prevent all sorts of blocks for other careers as well.
I’d never heard of it called the Hemingway Bridge, having learnt the technique from a quote (whose author I can’t remember now): Stop the day’s work when you want to keep on going. Thanks for sharing!
I really like the idea of “ending today and starting tomorrow”. Although I hae often done a to do list last thing I night, the idea of emulating Hemingway and writing the first paragraph of a new chapter. I have been doing a lot of online writing recently, but there are times when I have found it a real struggle, so I shall adopt this technique. I think it is a very sound idea.
Thanks for sharing
I am pleased to know your blog. I read the articles, its interesting. thank you very much
I began my day by reading this post, Dan. Thanks!
A few ways of beginning today’s life, which I know of are,
1. Recording the key things to do on an iPhone in the morning (my friend does that!)
2. By the end of today checking if all things are done (to appraise yourself)
3. Doing scheduled workouts: This personally helps me because I appraise any improvements in my physical ability on a daily basis and that increases my motivation to ‘accomplish’ things.
I agree with you on the ‘strategy call’. My variation to it is, I do it every evening to understand the better ways in which I could have handled the tasks during the day; hence, if I happen to do similar tasks the next day, I try to be better.
Great going Dan! Thanks!
Thanks for leaving your first comment. There’s so much great stuff in what you’re saying. Love the idea of ending the day with a strategic call.
“Sleep on it” works great for me. I have frequently slept on a complex problem, and find I awake the next morning with an improved method for solving it. Paradoxically, the solution usually winds up being simpler than the possibilities I had been considering.
Thanks for a good post.
I wish I could end every day by starting on my work for tomorrow! It seems every time I try to employ this method I end up staying up until three in the morning and negatively impacting my tomorrow. Perhaps I should try to implement this after I have managed a few of the other points so it doesn’t have such an impact! Starting my day off with something I put off yesterday is too often the case, but I suppose if it is getting done that I can’t complain too much. Sleeping on big problems tend to make them smaller, more manageable ones, though. My favorite task in the world is to make to-do lists in the morning or the night before if I am feeling particularly anxious about deadlines. These tips are very timely, as many of us are struggling to remain productive and focused while working from home. I have found that starting my day with something positive and enjoyable makes me more likely to be productive for the rest of the day. I enjoy meditation or yoga, to get my mind centered and calm for the ever-growing to-do list just out of sight. These activities also allow me remember that there’s more outside of these tasks when I get too bogged down. I have never really considered talking through my to-do list with someone, so maybe I will start small and trying talking to my dog about the day before asking my friends to set aside time for this activity. This may be something that I can incorporate into the middle of my day rather than the beginning, as I am not usually frustrated or concerned until a few things have gone wrong. It seems that the overall theme of this post is looking forward. Even if you are not actively doing something, talking through your tasks or taking a tactful retreat in the form of sleep are all working towards the future and making good choices for future you.