Instant Search

Creative Routines

“We all have the same 24 hours that Beyoncé has” and its various iterations took the web by storm in late 2013 as the megastar became the figurehead of not only having it all, but being able to somehow do it all too.

How do creatives – composers, painters, writers, scientists, philosophers – find the time to produce their opus? Mason Currey investigated the rigid Daily Rituals that hundreds of creatives practiced in order to carve out time, every day, to work their craft. Some kept to the same disciplined regimen for decades while others locked in patterns only while working on specific works.

Creative Routines Poster
Creative Routines Poster

There are enough data to visualize a portion of the hundreds of creative lifestyles. Click the poster to discover:

Gustave Flaubert, Ludwig Van Beethoven, W.A. Mozart, Thomas Mann, Sigmund Freud, Immanuel Kant, Maya Angelou, John Milton, Honore de Balzac, Victor Hugo, Charles Dickens, W.H. Auden, Charles Darwin, P.I. Tchaikovsky, Le Corbusier, Benjamin Franklin

Design Highlights
Representing each day as a continuous 24 hour cycle invokes the ever spinning wheel of time, and more simply the face of a clock with midnight placed in the “12 o’clock” position and noon at “6 o’clock.” Colors mark major categories of activity – work, sleep, exercise, etc.

Creative Routines Legend

Comparing the routines of these creatives is fascinating. Some work in the early morning, some work better late at night. Many begin their day with coffee and use tobacco and alcohol. Considering that our modern concept of exercise was not developed until the mid-20th century, it is fascinating how many of these people spent their afternoons taking vigorous walks.

Beethoven vs. Mozart

Perhaps most fascinating, is reflecting on how you spend your days compared to these creative masters. Do you have a routine that helps you be productive every day?

Data are from Mason Currey’s book DAILY RITUALS. Order it from Amazon and learn more at Mason’s site. The original poster is below for link reference

Info We Trust is a data adventure exploring how to better humanize information. To learn more read the opening post here. The creator, RJ Andrews, is an engineer and proud Northeastern University and MIT graduate. Please reach out through facebook, twitter @infowetrust, or the contact page.

First Edit
by InfoWeTrust

Suggested Posts

Out of the Swamp
Data City
Lionsgate rising


  1. Reblogged this on Ruth Hull Chatlien and commented:
    A friend of mine posted this on Facebook, and I love this look into how creative people of the past have worked. Since I’m trying to think of a more manageable routine for myself, this is helping me to see possibilities.

  2. When I read the various charts, I did not get a sense of variation, I got a sense of similarity. It seemed like 12 of the people had productive hours between 9 a.m. and noon.

    I was amazed that Victor Hugo devoted so few hours a day to work. Did he have an army of ghostwriters?

  3. Isn’t it interesting that except for Maya all people listed were men? I didn’t see anytime devoted to grocery shopping, cleaning house, doing laundry, and/or taking care of the children. Imagine women working and doing all these things too. How many hours does that leave for sleep?

    • That’s exactly what I was thinking. I am missing Virginia Woolf, SImone de Beauvoir, Mary Shelley, Artemisia Gentileschi, Frida Kahlo. If you make info graphics, you have the possibility to include historical people that have stayed in the shade.

      • Indeed very interesting fact. Though you may want to consider that there isn’t as much data available about ‘historical people that have stayed in the shade,’ and perhaps there isn’t enough data to create trustable info graphics for them?
        Although for some of the people you mentioned we know quite a lot, so maybe it’s simply a matter of carrying on with the project and adding to the list. It would definitely be great to see more on the figures mentioned in the comments here.

  4. Is it possible to get a PDF or vector version of just the 24 hour chart? I’d like to use this as an exercise with my team.

  5. Reblogged this on The Kept Life and commented:
    Absolutely brilliant! I love infographics that put everything in order for us to get the most out of the information put forth — as in this IG of the Creative Routines of some of history’s most successful.

  6. it would be great to have an app available that could be used by people to easily graph their own days and activities to share/post or just use themselves. I am sure I am not the only one that thinks …. what software that I have can I hack to make my own chart like this without too much effort.

  7. “It is fascinating how many of these people spent their afternoons taking vigorous walks.”

    Walking is a stand-in function for Meditation. Meditation takes on all kinds of forms, but ultimately, meditation is just deliberative thought. I like walking and thinking too. They work together well.

    Meditation prerequisites mastery. Especially in creative fields.

    Remove the Meditation period, fill it with something useless, and none of these people end up in history books. It is as important as the work itself.

  8. I would love to see an app of some sort to let me make these type of time charts for myself or others. Would be interesting to compare with friends a typical day, or even spin a series of this day-clocks out for a typical week or make them serially to track your own habits and tweak your rituals to consolidate time and tasks more effectively.

    • Thinking of “routine” as a route. What path are we taking? “Routine” is an unconscious path. We need to consciously define our path … creating a new habit, like learning to drive, requires us to pay attention to what we are doing. After a while, it becomes “routine.” We don’t need to think about it … Being creative, is DOING IT. Do it consciously, constantly, and after a while, by habit, we are unconsciously creative all the time.

  9. Interesting to see how late some of them worked and how little some slept. Adapting one of these schedules wouldn’t be impossible; I would be interested in giving it a go at the very least.

  10. Something I notice in those charts; you don’t see a lot of “working in an entirely unrelated field” grey patches; Mozart, for example, was giving music lessons four hours a day, not working the fryolator for eight. I don’t begrudge it of the giants of the past, but I do wish it were more possible today.

  11. Reblogged this on Traveling Uke and commented:
    How the creative process differs from person to person is fascinating!

    How would you divide up your perfect creative day, how much time could you spend actively creating, and could you always stick to that routine? Does the flow of ideas (or lack thereof) hinder your routine? Lately I’ve been complaining about not having enough time for everything I want do, but I’m affected by lack energy and creative output.

    How different life would be with no 9 to 5 is one thing that motivates me to prepare well for that situation actually happening for me in August.

  12. this is interesting…mostly because the nature of creativity itself cannot be constricted to a regime or even way of life. My view is that creativity, like life, is evolving, not just in time but to each person.

  13. Reblogged this on danettenell29 and commented:
    I once read an article in one of my favorite magazines, “Sarie”, about routine and creative work. The writer, Marieta Van Der Vyver, stated that whenever she met a writer, she always inquired when they write in their daily life. Like many of us probably imagine, she also had the idea that they wait for passion to grab them and then disappear into a writing coma for hours or days finishing in exhaustion. But she revealed that most writers stated that they would never write if that was how it worked, and that they made writing a fixed part of their daily routine- much like we do with work. To many, writing is their work, their bread and butter. This romanticized fantasy of living creatively, is often nothing more than just that- fantasy.

  14. Reblogged this on Liberty's Sister and commented:
    As I have recently restructured my daily activities to include time “doing what I love” I found this post on creative routines interesting enough to share. It is good to remember that we all have the same 24 hours each day.

  15. Fascinating infographic. Based on the information provided, it appears that Maya Angelou commuted every day to a hotel or motel so she could “write, always in hotel or motel rooms.” Would love to know more about that.

  16. how can I mkae my own creative routine chart? using the same graphic … is that possible?

  17. Reblogged this on A Working Artist. and commented:
    This is an interesting breakdown of time. My greatest anxiety is feeling I don’t have enough time to do any particular project. Bringing some formal organization to my day is the only solution that works. The saying “Dawn breaks on Marblehead,” is quite appropriate.

  18. oh those creative people:) what a lovely schedules!// but what i’d really love to compare them to, would be business people schedules! ^)

  19. You blow my mind. I get bogged down by big data but info-graphics makes it all so much fun and interesting. Thank you for sharing your exceptional gift of categorization and interpretation. Love it!

  20. Pingback: Fooling My Body
  21. Pingback: {bits & pieces}
  22. Pingback: Daily Rituals
  23. Reblogged this on Sherrey Meyer, Writer and commented:
    Lately there seems to be a lot of interest in creative productivity. Following closely on the heels of my own post on productivity for writers, I came across this excellent post of collected data on some historical figures from a variety of creative talents. I think you’ll find it interesting.

  24. I love this. I have been using the spiraldex by Kent Oz, (check it out here:, but I like the option of one round circle. I found a new app as well called Owaves. It seems it’s only for iPhone, though. I’m now an Android girl.

  25. THis is excellent and fascinating! I’m touched by the fact that so many of these creatives took walks throughout their day!

  26. On a non – school day (graduating senior, yay!) , I wake up at 8, take my equivalent of an early morning walk (pilates and ballet barre online for 2 hours), take a nice cold shower, eat breakfast at 11, read a novel or an art/Fashion magazine until around 3, work on Web design or photography or poetry until 5:30, have dinner at 6, play Turks board games with mother at 8, then work or watch one of three serials until sleep at 11.

    I am very domesticated, as you can see.

Comments are closed.