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A Few Sacred Minutes

Daily Stoic Emails

It was in the morning. Or it was at night. Marcus Aurelius took time for himself—whatever was happening, wherever he was, to sit and think and write. Brand Blanshard marvels at what Marcus was able to accomplish there in the “midnight dimness,” alone with his pages and his thoughts. Seneca, we know, took the time in the evening, after his wife had gone to sleep. He reflected on the day past. He wrote his letters. He examined himself.

What about you? Do you make this time?

James Clear, author of the wonderful bestseller Atomic Habits, told us on the Daily Stoic podcast recently that since becoming a father he has carved out “two sacred hours” in the morning to do his writing. Sometimes he gets more time, but never less. Those two hours determine whether he had a good day or a wasted day, whether he was productive and making progress, or whether he was slacking.

A few minutes or a few hours, in the morning, at night or in the middle of the day, this idea of sacred time is important. You have to carve it out. You have to stick to it like clockwork. You need to use the stillness to be active. You need to focus, lock in—to your philosophy, to your work, to your self-examination. Of course, this isn’t the only time you’ll need. It’s just the minimum.

So make sure you give it—or take it—for yourself.