Extraordinary Routines

Extraordinary Routines · Lisa Mitchell

Today our monthly columnist Madeleine Dore of Extraordinary Routines shares the daily routine of local singer and songwriter Lisa Mitchell.

Splitting her time between Melbourne, Sydney and being on the road, Lisa admits her routine fluctuates to accommodate the ever-changing nature of her job. It’s the little things and rituals that keep her day in check, from a walk to the park to a morning coffee, writing and chatting to friends on the phone whilst in transit.

Lisa is currently touring the country, after the release of her latest album Warriors (available online here).

Madeleine Dore

Local singer and songwriter Lisa Mitchell at home in Carlton. Photo – Annette O’Brien for The Design Files.

The varying degrees of the songwriting process! Photo – Annette O’Brien for The Design Files.

Bedroom details and Lisa Mitchell’s latest album Warriors. Photo – Annette O’Brien for The Design Files.

Lisa in Carlton on her daily walk. Photo – Annette O’Brien for The Design Files.

A daily hang out spot in Lisa’s local park. Photo – Annette O’Brien for The Design Files.

Madeleine Dore
4th of November 2016

Given Lisa Mitchell has just released a new album (Warriors) and kicked off a national and international tour, I couldn’t help but feel a little stunned when she admitted she prefers to ‘lean towards the lazy.’

In a culture that romanticises busyness, it was a relief to hear an established musician speak so candidly of their fondness for exactly the opposite. It’s a reassuring sentiment for any freelancer, creative, artist, or entrepreneur – our lives, our days, fluctuate between the busy and the lazy.

‘The more I do music, the more I realise it’s so seasonal. You’re on your own path and you can create your own day,’ Lisa mentions. ‘My partner Jordan is a musician as well, which is great because he totally understands that it’s a gypsy, opportunistic kind of life. If we want to, we can move our entire lives.’

It’s clear that Lisa Mitchell works hard, but what her outlook encapsulates is this sense of being free from the torment of what we think we should be doing.

‘Everyone’s got this idea of what should be happening, or how they should be doing it. At the end of the day, success comes and goes, but if you’re still doing something – even if it’s hard – you’re meant to be doing it.’

Sharing the various components of her daily life – from waking up in Sydney, Melbourne, or on tour, to letting habits change, Lisa is doing things her way. Would she change a thing? ‘I’d really like to change wanting to change myself! We all give ourselves so much crap all the time, so I’d love to just leave myself alone.’

Lisa Mitchell’s Extraordinary Routine


If I’m on tour, I’ll get up really early. This is the hilariousness about music and touring, your day is always so different. The one constant is my Keep Cup. On tour it’s really easy to just use plastic the whole time, but I try to do my bit.


If I’m staying in Sydney, I like to get up early and get some of that morning light. It’s so beautiful in the morning and I love the freedom of being able to walk to the beach and sit with my coffee. If I’m with my boyfriend Jordan, I’ll try to drag him out of bed, or he’ll meet me later because he likes his sleep.


If I’m in Melbourne, I’ll wake up a little later and generally lie in bed for a while, just thinking. I used to meditate religiously, every morning and night, but doing it so rigidly stopped being so useful for me – some habits transform I think. Now I might sit and notice my breathing and thoughts and try to get into my body.

If I’m not feeling very clear, I’ll do my morning pages inspired by The Artist’s Way – it feels like cleaning out the room inside your head.


I’ll go downstairs and make some porridge with a spurtle – it’s a traditional Scottish porridge stirrer made out of wood. I’ll make a herbal tea and do some reading and try and chill.

I do feel that pressure to get going quickly in the morning, but I know that’s not really me. I’m a bit more chilled. I’ll often go for a walk after breakfast and one of my favourite things to do if I have the morning off in Melbourne is go to CERES in Brunswick East. I’ll often listen to audiobooks, music or talk to a friend on the phone.


If I’ve got a pressing deadline or an interview then I’ll take a couple of hours in the morning to finish something, but I also try to enjoy the quieter moments. I feel like people can work themselves until they’re absolutely stuffed and not really be very happy.

I try to lean the other way – I’d rather be a bit lazier and enjoy myself and let more inspiration into my day then be stressing myself out.


If I’m on tour, there is usually about six of us in the crew and we will make an effort to have lunch together at a nice café, which really grounds you while you’re travelling. It’s nice to have a little chat with the locals. After lunch is usually sound check and set up.

I always try and take a book with me when I’m touring because there is a lot of waiting around. I’ll also always have my guitar with me so I can do some writing.


I love to do my own Instagram, it’s a platform I’ve always been attracted to. You know when you’re a kid and you’re collecting all these weird things and you’re putting them in your special box? That’s what it feels like.

I do get really inspired by the people I follow, but I also find it a little bit confronting – if you’re having a bad day and you’re on social media, you can just go into a bit of a downward spiral. I just try and have a little bit of healthy distance.


If I have a show, I don’t want a massive meal before I go on stage so I’ll just have a good snack and warm up back stage and just sink into the zone. Sometimes I’ll play the same note on my guitar and make interpretive weird noises for ages – it’s nice because it warms you up but it also helps you tune into how you’re feeling and what wants to come out, which feeds into the performance as well.


Once we finish the show we might get a cheeky kebab and then it’s back in the van to sleep. I’m a pretty light sleeper unfortunately, but I’ve become really good at semi-sleeping on planes and things.

“Try to trust that things are happening how they want to happen, not always the way you think they will. There’s something to be said for trying to be lighter and kinder with yourself.”

This column is part of our monthly collaboration with Madeleine Dore of Extraordinary Routines.

Lisa in her home workspace. Photo – Annette O’Brien for The Design Files.

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