A Daily Routine Will Drastically Increase Your Productivity
Part Three: Productivity and Time-Management Series
The Positives of a Daily Routine
Establishing good daily habits and routines makes us feel great about ourselves and our productivity. But why is it so hard to create a routine and stick with it? Being creatures of habit, we actually all HAVE a routine — but is it the one we really want?
If you’d like to learn the why’s and how’s of building the best routine for YOUR personal daily needs, then stick around. First, let’s look at the positives of a good routine:
- Routines limit our choices and prevent overwhelm (one of the biggest benefits!)
- Routines give us a framework to build on so we know what to expect each day
- Routines help us use our time more wisely instead of wasting this precious resource on indecision and unworthy acvtivities
- Routines free our minds up for more productive work in shorter amounts of time
- Mastering a routine and good habits will boost your mood and give you confidence about your day and abilities
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“We are what we repeatedly do” Aristotle
The Big Secret About Setting a Routine: It’s Not About Motivation
Motivation is a routine and habit killer. If we wait until the motivation strikes to build a healthy routine, it will never happen — or it will go the way of New Year’s resolutions and last for a week at best.
If we switch mindsets to the popular Nike refrain of “Just Do It”, then success is just around the corner. Putting healthy habits to work for us, slowly and methodically, will build a framework of discipline. It’s self-discipline, and that natural high of accomplishment, that helps us build a routine and stick with it.
Start by writing a list of things you’d like to have on a regular daily or weekly schedule. Just get it all on paper and try not to feel overwhelmed at how many areas you may need help with.
Now, pick two areas that are most important and start with those. You can implement some or all of the following tips into building your personal routine in that area, even if it doesn’t exactly match the topic we’re covering.
How to Get Started Building a Habit Framework
A Miracle Morning
The obvious place to start would be your morning habits and routines. If you need help for your mornings, choose two things you’d most like to work on, and put a couple of small changes on autopilot.
I’m self-employed, so my mornings used to be a disaster. I stayed up late and slept in every day. After signing up for an amazing work-at-home course, I knew I’d have to become an early riser in order to run a successful home business.
Your needs could be totally different; you may have a perfect morning schedule if you work outside of the house or have kids to get to school etc. Everyone’s needs are different and we’ll likely struggle in some areas but not others.
Getting out of bed at 6 am certainly helped me with the late nights; I struggled to keep my eyes open by 10 pm. I did this day after day for nine months until it became a no-brainer habit. I added 3 full hours to my mornings with this one change!
If you’d like more hours in your day, here are some tips for you:
- Set an alarm across the room so you have to stand on your feet to shut it off — walking will help you wake up
- Brush your teeth right away — something about mint-flavored anything is an energy boost
- Put on your workout clothes or get dressed according to what your morning plans are
- If you can, try a diffuser with an energizing scent (I’ve used this one for 3 years) — lemongrass oil is my happy smell
- I love my sunrise wake-up light alarm clock — a total game-changer — the light gradually goes from 1% to 100% brightness and has several amazing nature sounds for the alarm … it helps me live through Colorado winters for sure
I learned those tips by reading Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod — it has absolutely transformed my days. If you want an inexpensive, guaranteed way to overhaul your morning (and maybe your life), you need this book! It’s only 139 pages…so it dives into the good stuff pretty quick. That’s my kind of book.
A Set Schedule
Setting a schedule for yourself will help minimize distractions and overcome those days when you feel unmotivated. Your daily routine won’t be derailed by social media, internet surfing, or unimportant interruptions if your schedule becomes the anchor of your day.
“Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” Aristotle
Benefits of a Schedule:
- If you’re self-employed, it’s imperative to manage your time with daily, weekly, and monthly task scheduling — this keeps you on track and frees your mind from unnecessary decision-making
- Having a planned-out schedule encourages us to stick to routines
- Scheduling your time builds an automatic habit of looking at your planner or calendar and following the steps — some people never put their intentions on paper, or schedule them with purpose, and suffer regret day after day
- You’ll feel great about yourself and implement an important act of self-care if you follow a set routine and accomplish what’s needed for your day
The second post in this Productivity and Time-Management Series dives more deeply into how to write a great to-do list and prioritize your schedule and time.
A Set Exercise Routine
Most of us try, and fail, to implement some sort of exercise into our days. However, regular movement is a very important part of self-care and productivity.
Your best bet is to stick it into your daily schedule and build slowly on it, one baby step at a time. The key is to start small, but build up from there!
You’ll likely fight motivation issues — but putting small goals onto autopilot (like setting an alarm for 6 am), will slowly transform them into disciplined habits that aren’t swayed by how you feel about them each day.
You can start with doing 5 push-ups, planks, etc. after each bathroom break. Or if you work outside the home, do these before getting dressed and again when you change clothes after work. Start small.
Here are some benefits of squeezing even a little bit of movement into a daily routine:
- Most of us sit many hours a day — improve your health by adding in a few squats, planks, jumping jacks, marching in place etc. each time you stand up — whatever your ability, just move for 3 or 4 minutes
- Movement brings mental clarity and energy when you’re in a slump
- Exercise helps when you’ve hit a work or writing block — take a quick walk, go up and down a flight of stairs at work — get your heart rate up for even 5 minutes and it may be just the help you need to get going again
- A walking or exercise break during the day can also give you extra thinking time — some of my best ideas come to me when I’m moving my body and letting my mind wander
How to Make Those Habits Stick
This brings us to the hardest part of building a daily routine — making it stick. There are no hard-and-fast answers, and you may be different from the next person, but here’s the common-sense approach:
- Your biggest challenge is getting started — choose a few things you’d really be excited about changing and start there
- Baby steps — those changes you feel passionate about, break them into small challenges and put them on autopilot (no thinking/second-guessing)
- You may benefit from making set deadlines or goals for each thing you’re trying to add to the daily routine
- It generally takes around 90 days to really establish a habit you don’t have to think about anymore — many say 30 days or less, but that’s usually not the case for most people
- Make or buy a pretty calendar to create a positive mindset while setting up new habits — it’s really fun to cross off small (and big!) wins each day — visual reminders are powerful
- Don’t get discouraged or caught up in perfection — daily routines are meant to serve YOU, not the other way around
You’ve made it to the end of this post! I’m proud of you — you’re determined to make a change. If you adopt some of these habit-forming frameworks, your days and routines will change for the better. I’m here to cheer you on…you’ve got this!
One small step towards a healthy habit will eventually turn to many accomplished goals. CELEBRATE EACH WIN!!