Rest In Peace to the forty hour work week. There, I said it. You won’t be missed.
“Work smarter, not harder”. A phrase we’ve become so familiar with, without really understanding what it means and how we can apply this principle to our lives. A few more hours at the tail end of every day to dedicate to creative projects, or a little bit of TLC and self care sounds like a dream. Well, dreams do come true – you just have to jot them down and believe in yourself like Kanye believes in Kanye!
We’ve been undergoing this change ourselves here at the 5TH HQ, exploring how we can swap the traditional 9-5 for something that bette suits our individual personalities. As my fingers hit the keyboard Mike is perched over a laptop at a cafe near his home, Manning is sprawled out on a beanbag and at least three of our small team are enjoying the extra freedom of a four-day working week.
As part of our constant exploration of how to make the most of time, I sat down with Loretta Lizzio, an artist and illustrator currently based in Melbourne, Australia.
Meet Loretta Lizzio
Her grandest feat to date is a three story mural in London, painted during her recent travels. All of her travelling aside, her workday is unconventional, to say the least, offering a testament to working smarter and getting the best out of her creativity.
“How you start your day is how you start your life”
– Drew Canole
What do Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Barack Obama all have in common? They’re all wildly successful, yes, but they also all have a morning routine that they swear by.
As does Loretta, who starts her day before the sun rises. “It’s a peaceful, nice way to start the day” says Loretta, showing the soft smile of someone not in a hurry. Her morning routine is simple, she wakes up and makes her way to the kitchen to make a pot of coffee. Drawn to the sensory experience, Loretta grinds the beans fresh. She puts on some music and prepares a light meal.
If by the time she’s concluded her breakfast, the sun has joined her to wake up the world around her, Loretta will shut all the blinds and work under the light of a lamp. Ideally, rainy weather would be the backdrop to a cosy studio session. Her AM grind includes a lot of planning and brainstorming.
In the morning, with the serenity of the world around her only just coming back to consciousness, senses still tingling, her mind operates with clarity.
The kind of clarity that allows you to run the day, as opposed to having the day run you.
It seems counterintuitive, maybe even too good to be true. “Yeah, but she’s an artist. I work on a computer” screams our brain. Believe it or not, taking breaks is a scientifically proven method of increasing your productivity. Run that one by your boss and see how you go!
Breaking up her typical work day, Loretta will conclude her morning routine and head to the gym, run her errands, catch up with friends and grab a coffee. She cooks dinner over a glass of wine before heading back to the studio to paint.
There’s a space between setting up her day appropriately, brainstorming and planning the work ahead of her, and when she heads into the studio in the evening. In this break, Loretta has had time to digest and allow her ideas to organically evolve. By the time she arrives at the studio, her mind is the cup that overfloweth with creativity.
Just like she starts her day with a routine, so does her painting begin with one, too. After all, creativity without structure makes for an unproductive session. It begins with coffee, the genesis of all things, followed by music and other forms of artistic inspiration like poetry, beautiful cinematography and photography. Different art forms stimulate her own artistry and creative nature.
A new album that Loretta connects with can be a catalyst for her to smash out an entire body of work in a week. Currently, on top of Loretta’s playlist is “Let My Key Be C” by Nils Frahn. So if you haven’t taken a break today, now’s as good a time as any to throw your headphones in and go for a stroll. Let your key be C for ten minutes or so.
Lastly, Loretta left us with a little gem for all the creative minds in our 5TH Fam.
Place great value on your rest, take a day off where you don’t so much as touch the utensils used for your particular craft. You’ll be back the next day with more energy and enthusiasm than before.
This is something we can attest to. When the well is dry, there simply isn’t any water to give. All in all, a simple equation for working smarter, not harder, is to:
start your day well + take breaks + allow yourself a day of rest
Super simple stuff.