This article was based on episode 135 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Get the full episode guide when you become a member at themodernmanager.com/join or purchase any full episode guide at themodernmanager.com/shop. Get the free miniguide at themodernmanager.com/miniguides.
How you start and end your day can have a surprising impact on your productivity, mood and overall well-being. Just as top athletes use rituals as a warmup routine, going through the same set of activities to prepare for competition, we can use a series of actions to prepare ourselves to start or end our day. Through regular routines, we streamline and simplify the start-up and wind-up processes, enabling ourselves to more quickly get organized, improve our health, and feel good.
THE FOUR OPTIMAL TIMES FOR ROUTINES
There are four natural moments each day that can help you start on the right foot or bring closure to the day. As you design your routines, consider the goals and what activities will achieve those aims.
Wake up. A morning routine often sets the tone for the day. My routine includes rising within a thirty-minute window each morning (including weekends), exercising, walking and feeding my dogs, and reading the newspaper.
Start the workday. A morning work routine can help you get and stay focused on your biggest priorities. My routine includes creating my daily plan which involves reviewing my calendar, reviewing my master to-do list, and determining my top 5 tasks for the day.
End the workday. An end of work routine brings closure and clarity to the day to help you transition back to private time. My new end of day routine consists of updating my daily plan and identifying any work I need to finish that evening, and tidying my desk.
Go to bed. A night time routine often helps the body and mind wind down and prepare for a restful night sleep. My simple routine is night-time self-care (teeth brushing, face washing, etc).
CRAFTING EFFECTIVE ROUTINES
Each routine must have at least one intention so that you can design the activities to accomplish that goal. Examples of intents include physical health, mental health, positive mood, learning or personal growth, living your values, improved productivity, better sleep, stronger relationships. The list goes on and on.
Once you’ve determined the intent, it’s time to select and order the activities. This is where the options are limitless. Here is a brief list of activities to consider:
Saying a mantra or affirmation
Reading or listening to a podcast
Reviewing your goals
Updating a team work-plan or your task system
Making a cup of coffee or tea
Crossing off the date on your calendar
Working on a puzzle
Setting an intention for the day
Practicing a hobby
Doing an act of kindness
Listening to music
Going for a walk
Doin a brain dump
Finally, consider whether the routine is likely to fit into your life and schedule. A routine is meant to be done daily (or each workday) so you must be able to maintain the practice. A routine that is overly time consuming or feels like a heavy lift may not be sustainable. Instead, pare down the routine and add elements over time as you become accustomed to it.
REFLECT AND ENHANCE YOUR ROUTINES
As you bring a new level of intention to your routines, be sure to reflect on how they’re working for you. For example, if your bedtime routine is designed to reduce feelings of overwhelm, after a few days, consider whether you’re feeling less overwhelmed at night. If your routine consists of drinking a cup of chamomile tea and a warm bath, but you discover you are still getting into bed feeling overwhelmed, maybe you need to try a different activity like doing a nightly brain dump or preparing your to-do list for the next day.
Remember, this is your routine so you can adjust it whenever you need to. Experiment, add a new activity or swap something out. An effective routine doesn’t include everything, but rather the right things so you can be healthy, productive and feel good.
Get the full episode guide when you become a member at themodernmanager.com/join or purchase any full episode guide at themodernmanager.com/shop. Get the free miniguide at themodernmanager.com/miniguides. This article was based on episode 135 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher.