Today, I want to tell you about my whiteboard. It’s up on a wall in my room, and I use it to write down my never-ending list of to-dos, fantastical project ideas and daily reminders for meetings and events. I was inspired by a friend who uses a whiteboard to plan his day, hoping that his ability to stick to his routine would rub off on me if I purchased the same object and gave it a coveted spot on my walls.

Needless to say, this did not happen. The whiteboard stares down at me with its list of unfinished tasks, scribbled in my ‘kaag’er thyang, bog’er thyang’ (Bengali for crow’s feet, crane’s feet) handwriting, as a teacher once put it.

Routines and I have an enmity that goes back to my school days. With the arrival of the computer and then the smartphone, any sense of time management I might have drowned in a flood of YouTube videos, Facebook messages, Instagram stories and the like. Whiteboards don’t stand a chance against surveillance capitalism.

One of the hardest-hit victims of my lack of discipline has been my creative pursuits. Over the years, I fell out of a creative writing habit as I fell deeper and deeper into the black hole of the internet. I’m still struggling to find my way back.

Recently, I came across a data visualisation project that depicts the daily habits of some of the world’s most creative people. Based on Mason Currey’s Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, this project sheds light on how much time Nabakov spent sleeping, how often Kant exercised and how much Corbusier spent eating. It offers a fascinating glimpse into how creative pursuits are interwoven into a web of other daily habits, often in ways that might not be the most “productive” in our eyes.

If you have some tips on how to build a routine and stick to it, send them my way. God knows I need all the help I can get.


P.S. Here’s a tip from me: Add Just One Thing to your to-do list, and let it be the easiest item to check off every day.