Here at Asian Efficiency, we love rituals. Rituals help integrate productive actions into our lives in a systematized way, so that it becomes as natural as brushing your teeth. Whether you are new to rituals or are a rituals expert, you’ll find these seven unusual rituals to be helpful when crafting your own rituals for your life.
Episode originally published 29 Feb 2016.
Voice Over: [00:00:01] Welcome to The Productivity Show by Asian Efficiency, helping you do more be better. And now here’s your host Zachary Sexton.
Zachary Sexton: [00:00:11] Welcome to The Productivity Show. My name is Zachary Sexton and today got another solo episode. We don’t have many of these, so hope you enjoy it. We talk a lot about rituals here on the podcast on the blog if you sign up for our e-mail newsletter, it’s something that is a recurring theme throughout Asian Efficiency and we like rituals because it allows you to do things consistently have some default action that are positive in your life. They just become part of you. Sort of like when you wake up in the morning and you just brush your teeth. Well you could do that in a lot of other areas of life and you know we talked about some of our favorite ones, our morning ritual which just sets the tone for the rest of your day and an evening ritual which allows you to go to bed, meditation which allows you to get a little bit more control of those thoughts that are running around in your mind and journaling uninterrupted time so you can do some focused work. But in our research we’ve come up across a lot of different rituals that are out there and I just wanted to take the time to share some unique approaches to rituals that I’ve found in my study of ritual. So we’ve got seven rituals for you. I don’t know how long this podcast is going to take to go through it might be one of the shorter episodes or I might just get yackin’ it’ll be one longer one so we’ll see.
Zachary Sexton: [00:01:39] The first unusual ritual is actually a ritual I just learned about last week in the dojo we’ve got a minister in there named Sasha and she was telling all the other members that ministers often get one day off a week where they’re free to do anything that they want and it’s usually geared towards study and personal renewal. So unless there’s some sort of emergency that they need to come to that they take this day that’s not Sunday that’s usually the day of rest for most people but as the ministers don’t necessarily have that day of rest for themselves. But this day is just completely for them and she was talking about how she wanted to use her day of rest and renewal as one big long ritual and she had some ideas of how she was going to string a number of smaller rituals together. And I really enjoyed her posts where she said she knew she was going to string– do something so maybe decorate the room bake something tasty, do arts and crafts projects. So it’s one of the categories: a spiritual practice so not necessarily studying the Bible she is a Christian but mindfulness meditation or sinner in prayer go somewhere a park or museum or movie exercise. She suggested dance or Taekwando and stretching read something fun. So fiction or poetry or comics learn something passively learn something actively. So you could either watch a documentary or research or journal or write. Write something like fiction or a poem and plan something maybe you’ve got a trip coming up or you want to play in your meals for the week. So that was her thought. And I really like that idea of a day of personal renewal that might be a ritual you guys think about taking. And this comes from somebody in the dojo. I really appreciate Sasha’s sharing that.
Zachary Sexton: [00:03:44] Another one you guys might have heard of before but I just find it really interesting is Bill Gates has a twice a year week long retreat with Bill Gates. He doesn’t have anyone else there. No family nobody from any of his nonprofits that he’s now working with nobody from Microsoft. He takes this “think week” as he dubs it and he reads he hikes he does yoga. He does meditation. He learns about personal development. I read an interview he did where he’s talked about “oh I learned about happiness and how it actually more consistently having happy occurrences rather than big crazy moments of happiness is more important. So I want to try to have some more consistent happy moments in my life.” So Bill Gates even gets into this self-development stuff so you might think that it’s not important but some successful people would beg to differ. So taking an entire week off if you can swing two, two entire weeks off throughout the year to really get that 50,000 foot view you know more than just a week more than just the month or the year more even then the five or ten year plan but just think what direction do you want your life to go overall. You know what are some of your values order or some things that are important to you and maybe not have some expectations of it just let yourself decompress and see what happens and Bill claims a lot of important insights came during that time one of them being at the dawn of the Internet revolution is diving into Netscape Navigator rather than just staying with software and might seem a little old school but it was pretty revolutionary at the time.
Zachary Sexton: [00:05:29] All right. Third ritual that I actually adore. I’m a part of it but I notice two Charles’ had the same ritual so I wanted to share it with you guys. Both Charles Dickens and Charles Darwin take breaks in the afternoon for exercise. So the reason that I do it and I actually just got done with mine I was a little bit later I went and did a little insanity workout and I’m pretty tired. But I’m a lot more with it as far as mentally because I’ve got that oxygen to the brain and those two did the same. They found that they they would work pretty hard in the morning and then just take the whole afternoon off to their form of exercise was was hiking and walking around. So Charles Dickens and Charles Darwin. I don’t know as much about their particular ritual and what it looked like but they seem to be pretty successful people within our history and they were they had that same ritual as well.
Zachary Sexton: [00:06:33] The fourth ritual I want to share with you guys is about working on your most important task – or your frog as Brian Tracy might call it – every single day. Jerry Seinfeld, a successful comedian you may or may not like his style of comedy but nonetheless very successful guy very prolific guy has a lot of material out there and he has one rule. He writes a joke every single day. So if that’s something that you’ve got one area of your life you’ve got that one thing that I talked to Jay Papasan isn’t about that you want to improve and just be the best at. Doing it every single day taking some time to do it every single day and making a ritual out of doing that thing you know whether it be you know a musical instrument athletic performance writing or singing podcasting and working a little bit every single day can be a ritual that would have some compound effects because if you write one joke a day, that might lead into a few more but at least at the end of the year you’ve got over 300 almost 400 new jokes or 400 new writing blog entries or 400 new whatever you know you name it. And that compound effect will add up over the years.
Zachary Sexton: [00:07:55] The fifth ritual that I want to tell you about is from an author that I recently became a fan of named Robert Carroll. I am listening to an epically long 40 hour audiobook which is the first of a four part series on Lyndon Baines Johnson which was one of the United States presidents. It’s called Path to Power: The years of LBJ. I guess it’s 960 pages. And again one of four parts and he just goes in depth the history, the interviews he does the way he’s able to paint a picture of the time is amazing. I haven’t even heard of anything like this before. It’s so in depth. And the reason I got into it is because I’m living in Austin Texas now and I wanted to book for Texas history. And somebody suggested this me a great book for Texas history because it starts even before the 1960s it gets into his great grandparents who come out you know before the Alamo. So I’ve learned a lot there. But he has, since he’s been working, he writes a book every 10 years he comes out with these epic tomes every 10 years, to separate work and home. He’s got a rule that he can never talk about Lyndon Baines Johnson at dinner and and he does that because he’s so intense and focused on his work that he wants to have that time where he’s pulled out so he can he can be with his wife he can be with his family and not be immersed in this world that he’s so nicely created for the readers.
Zachary Sexton: [00:09:38] And number six is a side hustle ritual and some of you might not be a fan of that word but I like that word, side hustle is when you’re you maybe have a nine to five job but you’re working on something on the side you know whether it be a business or a little art that you have going. And it’s become popular now because a lot of people have the ability to create outside of their job because we’ve got the tools for it. All you need is a computer and internet connection. Boom you’re good to go. You can find an audience very quickly. And and there’s there’s many more tools at your disposal many more people are disposal to connect with and to create with. Now before the Internet one of my favorite childhood authors Roald Dahl had a side hustle which was writing. He has a farm and he would go out and work on that farm in the morning. And then from 10:00 a.m. to noon he would write and then he would go tend to the animals and do what he needed to do around his farm again. And from four to six he would write and some of the best childhood books. My best memories: the BFG, Matilda, The Witches, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Which much better than Willy Wonka. I like Willy Wonka but the book is where it’s at. He had his side hustle he had a ritual of writing those four hours each day and very prolific very famous author by taking time out to perform his daily writing ritual.
Zachary Sexton: [00:11:20] Now probably the biggest ritual guy of all. Benjamin Franklin he had a lot of virtues. I think he talked a bigger game than he actually followed through with, which is all right. He had a life that changed a lot. So he’d always try to live up to certain rituals and then you know sometimes not. But one of his rituals that I’m not sure how much he stuck with but he he very much and intended to he put it in his biography. I listened to his autobiography which is a little bit more, I don’t know, less polished than what Benjamin Franklin wanted you to see but in his biography you can see how he had his ideal days laid out. And from five to seven it would he would wake up and wash and have breakfast and he had this weird thing where he called it an air bath. He would stand naked in a window and let the cold air wash over him he did it in the evening too. You know he was a great scientist in many ways. I’m not sure if that one has much validity to it. But he would start his day every day with “what good shall I do this day.” And then he had a very structured day. He would work from eight to 11. From noon to 1 he would read and look over his accounts and then from two to five he’d work again. And from six to nine he would have dinner, music, diversions. I know he was big into chess and just having conversations with people and then he would sleep from 10 to five again. So before he went to sleep he asked himself another question. “What good have I done today.” So he sandwiched his days with an intention to do something good and a reflection on whether if any good came of that day. So that is the seventh ritual that I wanted to tell you about there’s lots more of them. There’s a great book out there and also a blog called daily routines where you can find some very unique ones from various artists and authors and philosophers and economists that I dug a few of these out of. It was part of the research in our rituals course.
Zachary Sexton: [00:13:44] So that’s seven alternative rituals that you can listen to it’s:
Zachary Sexton: [00:13:48] Take a day off every week for personal renewal and study.
Zachary Sexton: [00:13:53] Take an entire week off once or twice a year for a think week like Bill Gates.
Zachary Sexton: [00:13:59] Follow Charles Dickens and Charles Darwin and me in taking the afternoons off for exercise.
Zachary Sexton: [00:14:07] Work on your most important task every day with the Seinfeld “don’t break the chain” method just do it every single day, to take advantage of that compound effect of something that you’re really focused on.
Zachary Sexton: [00:14:19] Separate work and home, keep a distinct line between the two. And and don’t let them blur.
Zachary Sexton: [00:14:28] Side hustle ritual: find a time every day for your little side hustle until it becomes your main hustle. I’m pretty sure Roald Dahl was pretty much a writer by the end of his days.
Zachary Sexton: [00:14:39] And ask yourself at the beginning and the end of the day what good shall you do. Because you know otherwise why else are we here.
Zachary Sexton: [00:14:50] I appreciate you tuning in, hopefully listening to The Productivity Show is part of your weekly ritual. Somebody who listens to the show named Jackie says the show is “full of actionable practical steps to create more time in your life.” And hey who does not want that. If listening to The Productivity Show is a ritual for you we would love to hear your feedback in iTunes, you can give us a hopefully five star review or four or three whatever you want. Honest feedback is great and let us know how we’re doing. And I just want to end it with the way I’ve ended it in the past with my distillation of just about anything and everything you could do to be more productive. Just one long run on sentence but. Without further ado please plan and then do review. Organize prioritize. Eliminate the unimportant. Delegate and automate what you can. Focus on your most important task. Take care of yourself. Find momentum. Move toward your ideal. Achieve anything. Not everything. Enjoy this life. Do more and be better. Thanks for tuning in and I’ll see you next productive Monday.