One of the most underestimated productivity tools is implementing a routine.
I know, this sounds boring. I can guess what you’re thinking already – another routine post. I wish people would stop talking about routines.
Sorry to say it, but there is a reason that everyone is preaching about routines these days. I resisted routine and structure for the majority of my life. I just did whatever I wanted to do, whenever I wanted to do it. You know, living life on the edge. Looking back, though, my life was chaotic and I wasn’t really making any progress towards what I wanted in life – I was a bit of a lost cause.
Maybe I’m just getting old (I’m staring down 30 in a few weeks, the panic is about to set in any day now), but I have come to appreciate the value of solid routines. Once I started implementing routines, things started to fall into place. Just like magic, people!
Why Are Routines Important?
1. You Know What To Expect
Once you fall into a routine, you begin to learn what you can accomplish in a specific amount of time. Let’s say your evening routine is eating dinner, clean the house, walk the dogs and study/write. After a while, you know that dinner takes you 40 minutes to prepare and eat. You know that maybe it takes you about 20 minutes to tidy up, then you take the dogs for a walk for about an hour, and then you’re good to study for two hours. You are able to better plan your life when you know what is going to happen.
2. People Know What To Expect From You
When you have an established routine, the people around you take notice. They know that at 6pm on Thursdays you run. They know that there isn’t much point to try to contact you at 8:00pm because you’re working on your hustle. When they know that you are set into your routines and have habits that you won’t stray from, they become less likely to demand your time during those periods. This is important because friends and families can often become distractions. It is so much easier to say “screw it” and go out to dinner and drinks with your friends, or meet up for a family event, or hang out with your partner instead of doing something you have to work at. When you’re focused, you’re focused and things are good. If you’re stalled, if you’re struggling with your goals for some reason, having a distraction is a great way to procrastinate. Those are the times you need to be putting your all into it, not finding reasons to escape.
3. They’re Soothing
When you’re having a crappy day and things just aren’t going right, having a routine is very soothing. An evening routine is especially important for this. It feels so good to come home at the end of the day, stop doing what other people expect from you, and just do your own thing. It is nice to relax, but it also feels so good to be able to pound away at your goals in your own time. I find that spending a day doing things for other people just motivates me to come home and go full force at working on my blog because it is my “thing” and this is what I want to be successful with.
4. You’re In Control
Personal routines really put you in control of your own life. Really, that’s what we’re all after, right? We want to be in control of what happens to us. We want to make our own decisions in life. We don’t want outside influences telling us what to do. Your routines are your one chance during the day to say “I’m going to do what I want to do, exactly how I want to do it”. Nothing feels better than that, trust me.
How To Make A Routine
1. Decide What Matters To You
Figure out exactly what it is that is the most important to you. Do you want to relax? Do you want to spend time alone? Do you want to get work done? Identify these things and go forward from there. It is vital that you form your routine around these core elements. For example, if your goal for your morning routine is to have a calm morning, make sure you incorporate whatever activities are going to make you feel that way, and then time breakfast, getting ready, etc around that one idea. If your goal is to get up and exercise or write, then you need to make that the focus of your routine and go from there.
2. Write It Out
Yes, you need to write it out. Saying your going to do something doesn’t mean you’re going to do it. Writing it out will give you a better chance. Make sure that you have enough time to do everything. Be realistic. Don’t try to cram things in your morning routine and then end up late for work or dropping the kids off. Ensure that you have enough time, and if you don’t, then either change your routine or change your timing. This may mean you have to wake up earlier or go to bed later. Sometimes you just have to make more hours in the day. Whatever you do, make sure you are doing things that are actually attainable. If you know you aren’t a morning person, and you’re just starting to establish a routine, then stating that all of a sudden you are going to wake up at 5am is most likely going to fail. If you normally go to bed at 10:30pm and you all of a sudden decide you’re going to stay up until 1am, that might not work too well either. The goal is to be healthy and productive and to take small steps to reach your goal, not go all in at once and potentially set yourself up for failure.
3. Inform Other People
This is especially crucial if you live with other people. If you live with your spouse, all of a sudden your alarm going off earlier in the morning probably isn’t going to be the best way to wake up. If you’re used to crashing on the couch watching tv all night and now you’ve decided you’re going to start going to the gym in the evenings, this is something they need to be told about. My general rule of thumb is that if your actions are going to impact their routine, then involve them in the discussion. It is vital that you get the support you need at home because as I stated earlier, family and friends are big time distractions. If you are worried about taking your evenings away from “couple time”, implement a schedule that also includes spending time with them. Please note that I said involve them in the discussion, not the decision. You need to make the decision to work towards your own goals on your own. You can have joint goals, but having someone negatively influence your plans is going to hold you back. Decide what you need, inform and ask for support. You’re looking to do this because you want to be better as an individual.