Break out your day with simple routines that tap into your energy levels, our unique needs and a bit of science for good measure.
Routines can be a blessing a curse - namely become there can be so much pressure attached to them.
There can be a lot of pressure to find THE routine that will work for you, especially to start your work day the right way.
I make sure I spend my most productive 90 to 120 minutes catching up with my husband, sipping coffee, clearing my mind and looking at my priorities for the day.
On Mondays, I look at all the things I want to create and achieve in the week ahead, and from that, I make my intention list for the week.
Can you identify one activity that can set you up for the day every day? Can you then turn this into a ritual that kicks off your workday routine?
Repetition is the key to routines
Different people throughout history have experimented with different approaches when it comes to routines, habits, and ways of shaping life around your mission.
Yet, something that brings them all together is the idea of repetition.
Author Haruki Murakami ran a small jazz club in Tokyo for several years before his career gained momentum. Once his writing career kicked off, he moved to a rural area and crafted his routine: waking at 4 a.m., working for five or six hours, running or swimming in the afternoon, listening to music and reading before falling asleep at 9 p.m.
Goals and visions do have something in common: repetition, routines, and rituals.
Start your day the right way
A great workday routine starts way before work.
Create a sacred morning routine that energises you and inspires you for a successful day ahead. Trial different activities and see which ones motivate you to start your day free from home distractions!
Whatever you choose, be digitally disconnected during this time. Do not check your phone, social media or emails until your morning routine has completed.
Do you only have 5 minutes to yourself? Choose one activity that can start your day right for you.
Use your environment to support your morning routine. Create a joyful place within your home that you will complete the routine and prepare the night before.
How should I break out my workday?
Like anything in nature, humans run in cycles.
The growing body of research on ultradian rhythms — 90–120-minute cycles that run within the 24-hour circadian day — suggests that our day is driven by processes that affect our level of productivity.
At the beginning of the cycle, we experience heightened energy and focus, and at the end, we may feel scatterbrained and fatigued.
Is your computer crashing from the million tabs you have open? Likely, you are correct in that energy valley.
Nevertheless, it would help if you had an idea which tasks they are smashing in the morning and what keeps them going after the 3 pm slump.
Working in 90-minute cycles can help you feel more productive and take better breaks
Break down the cycle in a few ways:
- 45 minutes with 15 minutes break (x2)
- 30 minutes with 5 minutes break (x3)
Break down cycles as it follows
- Start your cycle with one of your 3 priorities for the day
- Once you are done with this focus-intensive task move to a few easy wins
- End your cycle with a longer break
You want to harness that magic beginning stage of the cycle, the one that Brian Tracy calls your prime time:
"Your internal prime time is the time of day, according to your body clock, when you are the most alert and productive."
Find out when your brain works best
I am a morning type of gal. Give me crosswords and pretty painting work in the afternoons — please and thank you.
Mike Vardy, productivity writer, speaker, and podcaster, says on his social media:
"Look, I'm a night owl — and proud of it. Why? Because despite having many say that my sleeping habits make me less likely to achieve, I prove them wrong. I don't just do that every once in a while. I do it every single day."
You do you, boo.
"Not all hours are created equal", states one of my favourite books, Winning Without Losing.
Once you find your most productive/inspired time, you want to know how you make the most of it. A simple routine, coupled with a few powerful rituals, can help you make that time special.
A few notes to protect your prime time:
- Put your phone (and laptop) on do-not disturb and crank on some music or white noise
- Have a clear way to communicate boundaries to your family (a note on the door with a fun “brainstorm session in progress” or a visual clue will tell them you are on a focused-time sprint)
If you want to protect your most productive time, you have to make sure you do whatever is needed to shield it from distractions and external triggers.
Whether it means preparing for the night ahead (for early risers), or tapping into mindfulness practice, making the most of your more efficient time will help you work smarter, not harder.
When should you set your prime time? It all goes back to your chronotype.
I typically like to set aside 90 minutes in the morning, but many people find it to be productive after dinner or straight after lunch.
Pick a time when you know you're not going to be too tired or have other things going on – as well as a time where you can let people know you won't be available then.
I always suggest focusing on one thing, but you can work on up to 3.
Help, my routine is not working anymore!
Every now and again, we all need to proverbially shake it off. Get out there if you're stuck in your current routine or mojo. It's a process called "pattern interrupt" and allows you put press "reset" in your brain.
Getting outside and away from your desk is the best thing you can do.
- Reconnecting with nature and getting some fresh air always clears my mind and helps to improve my productivity levels
- Moving your body (dancing, doing squats, jumping jacks - you name it) can also be a great way to clear your head for 15 minutes
The trick here is to get away from the physical space you associate with work (aka your desk). It may sound counter-productive to take time off to improve your focus, but taking time away from your computer/work can leave you with a renewed sense of focus to pick up your routine.
Make sure you interrupt the pattern for at least 10/15 minutes and you’ll see a real difference.
- There is no such thing as a perfect routine, but there is a perfect routine for you
- Create a simple morning routine - even 5 minutes will do - ahead of your workday
- Work in 90 or 120 minute cycles to maximise productivity during the day
- Discover and protect your prime time, when you are most focused and less likely to be disturbed
- Interrupt your pattern by setting “reset” with a simple activity if you are lacking motivation