“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” - Aristotle
A life without a positive daily routine or structure is so much more draining mentally, physically, and emotionally than you can ever imagine! The best routines, I've found, come at the start and end of the day - both your workday and your day in general. That means, develop a routine for when you awake, for when you first start working, for when you finish your workday, and for the end of your evening.
Routines predetermine your schedule, allowing you to use your time efficiently. A routine is an investment. Routine provides a sense of structure and familiarity. You wake up with a sense of ownership, order, and organization of your life. It negates the need to regularly schedule your days ahead of time.
You already know what you are doing each day. Once you are finished with a task, you already know what is next on your schedule. You need a routine to establish and work on your priorities, limit procrastination and to keep track of your goals. It lowers your reliance on willpower and motivation.
The act of automation increases efficiency in your life, by enabling you to do things without consciously thinking about it. You will automatically get things done, without having to remind yourself to get things done.
Tynan, the author of “Superhuman by Habit,” says, habits are “action[s] that you take on a repeated basis with little or no required effort or thought.” When you set up specific times for things to do, it’s far less likely you’ll push them off for later - especially once they become habit.
When you don’t have a routine, life just sort of happens to you. The day either gets wasted as you try to decide what to do, or you find yourself tangled up in the wants and needs of everybody else.
Take control of your life. Set some routines and learn to follow them. Create regular and consistent daily patterns that will take you where you want to go in life. Plan your schedule around your energy Starting your day, the same way can motivate you to get the ball rolling, even when you don’t feel like it.
You probably have a routine that works for you. If you don’t, here is a simple guide to help you make the most of your work day. Make a list of what you need to get done every day of the week. In the beginning, nothing is too small. But make sure you write it down.
Now assess your energy levels. Think about when you do your best work. Recognize your strengths and how your energy shifts throughout the day and plan your schedule accordingly. Madeleine Dore of the BBC explains, “The key to being productive might be found in using that time effectively through embracing the slumps in our day - those moments when your productivity begins to ebb away, usually in the mid-morning, directly after lunch or mid-afternoon.”
Set up a daily ritual
Not only do morning and evening routines allow you to do more, but, as with all rituals, they simply give your life more rhythm, texture, and pleasure. The best possible starting point is to spend 10 minutes in the evening planning your next day. Choose an activity that puts you in a positive mindset to start off the day and one that you’re able to commit to regularly. Activities like getting good sleep, choosing to eat healthily, and exercising, should be non-negotiable. You can also make time to meditate, take breaks on purpose and have time for your family.
Studies have shown that regular exercise boosts alertness, energy, productivity, creativity, and mental focus. Being an effective early riser changes everything for the rest of the day. A University of Leipzig study concluded that “morning people were more proactive than evening types.”
*In a poll of 20 executives cited by Laura Vanderkam, a time-management expert and the author of “What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast,” 90% said they wake up before 6 a.m. on weekdays.
*PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, for example, wakes at 4 and is in the office no later than 7. Disney CEO Bob Iger gets up at 4:30 to read. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is up at 5:30 to go jogging.
To start your day right, you’ve got to have a morning routine that works and brings out the best in you. Make your mornings productive. The quiet hours of the morning can be the ideal time to focus on an important work project without being interrupted. Most people have greater energy for their most important work in the morning. You can do your essential tasks like writing, creative thinking, or problem-solving before noon. Evenings are for planning and preparation for the next day. Write out a little schedule on what you need to accomplish the next day.
If you plan the night before, have a tight morning ritual and you know exactly what you need to do first thing in the morning without wasting time - you’re already ahead of 99% of people.
The 30-day challenge
The challenge most of us have is sticking to a healthy and productive routine. You can start with a 30-day challenge to develop the perfect routine that sticks. Write it out on paper, along with your motivations, obstacles, and strategies for overcoming them.
Commit fully, in a public way, if you can.
Report on your progress each day.
Have support for when you falter - either in real life or online.
Reward every little success.
Adjust anything that is not working on a case-by-case basis. Then do an assessment after 30 days to see how your new routine is working for you.
If you fail, figure out what went wrong, plan for it, and try again.
Morning and evening routines can help you be much more productive and make the most out of life. You don’t always have full control over your workday, but you do over these two-time slots.
You can use them to make sure the most important stuff gets done - from working out, to spending time with friends and family, your choice but like I say make sure it is the right choice!
Until next time