RSO Says: The Importance of Daily Rituals

By Ryan Scott Oliver

I've long been fascinated by the daily rituals of artists ...

and I believe starting your day right is responsible for at least 30% of your daily success.  It focuses you, brings comfort and peace, and can help you make healthy choices.

Mason Curry collected the daily rituals of a few hundred artists — everyone from Stephen King to Ayn Rand to Emily Bronte and Chopin — and for a whole year I read one short chapter a day (a chapter is about a page), and that was very insightful.  Among the things I learned:

  • Composers like to walk

  • 95% of successful artists do their most important art in the morning

  • Many people work in two phases, separated by a nap

  • Often people will save correspondences and meetings for the afternoon, when their brains are slightly more tired and they may be more amenable and easy-going

Check out and buy Mason Curry's book Daily Rituals here.

As to MY daily rituals ...

For the last several years, my daily rituals have been as follows, and I've enjoyed them, though NOT as much as the incredible new system I've discovered (you'll read about that shortly).

  • Wake up, feed dog, make coffee, make breakfast.

  • Sit down at computer, "buffer" my tweets (pre-set them to run during the day so I never have to worry about them)

  • Read a short chapter in something (like Daily Rituals, or my latest two books: The Obstacle is the Way and The Daily Stoic — both on stoicism)

  • Take my vitamins

  • Schedule review health and fitness goals, etc.

  • Lastly... organize my daily to do list, looking at a massive list of items, and pulling what I think I could reasonably accomplish for the day (knowing that regularly I will only accomplish 80% of the list by the end of the day)

But recently, I discovered a new set of daily rituals which take 45 minutes which majorly improved upon my own, and I want to share them with you and encourage you to try them out for one full week — at least the weekdays.

Check out the PDF article I read here, (by Tim Ferriss) and get my take below.

So basically, there are 5 steps, which I've reduced to categories.


The second you wake up, tidy some area of your home.  This gets you up and active, and already makes you feel like you're getting your life together.  Tim Ferriss makes his bed; but I tend to get up earlier than my husband and so I have decided to tidy the kitchen: dishes away, dishes in the dishwasher, a quick wipe of the counter.


Tim Ferriss recommended meditation, and I resisted.  Mindfulness effectively means, you're taking time to find peace of mind.  I thought maybe taking the dog out would work — but I realized it was too stressful when I was trying to find inner calm.  So I, a novice meditater, bit the bullet and do a 10-minute meditation using the base skills I know.  I set my iPhone for 10 minutes, sit in a chair with my hands in my lap and feet on the floor, and after initially letting my thoughts come as they may, I try to find blankness, simplicity, and clarity.  For some of you, this is a great time to do 10 minutes of yoga!


Da fuck you say????  YES.  This is actually my favorite of the new rituals!!  Tim Ferriss does 10 pull-ups; for me, I do 10 push-ups.  And to keep me challenged, every day I add one more rep.  If I skip a day, I go backwards.  

Then — the SHOWER.  Yeah, not a soapy cleansy one — literally hop in the shower for 30 seconds-1 minute.  Start with lukewarm water, nothing oppressive but not warm, and gradually take the temperature down until it's a temperature you could stand for only a bit, like a chilly ocean.  You'll find your brain ALERT and you are refreshed, and did you notice — you haven't even had ...


Tim Ferriss makes this elaborate bougie tea that ought to be hocked by Goop, and deserves to be called "gay" AND I love coffee.  So here's where I make coffee, and also breakfast, something light between 200-300 calories, probably a smoothie or eggs and toast.


Here's an area that, if you don't take anything else from this list, I really recommend you give some thought to this one.  Self-work, to Tim Ferriss, is journaling for 5 minutes.  For me, it's similar, but I have a running doc where I think of three things on my mind, usually troubling things.  Names of friends/loved ones I'm having issues with; subjects that stress me out; or an activity today I need to mentally prepare for.  And then I write my thoughts out, always remembering that "the right choices" for our human behavior are usually very clear to us ... just not always easy to do.  Taking this moment to write them out and remind myself to be a good and better person every day has been very very positive for me.  And I'm STILL an asshole — so can you imagine what I'd be if I didn't take this step?

So give this a try for one week.  Do your best to allow yourself to take at least 3 days in a row before you take a day off if you must (so many of you may want to try this starting July 5).  And you know what they say — it takes 3 weeks to make a habit!