If you’ve ever searched for self-development on the internet, you’ve come across routines. Everywhere you turn in the realm of self-help, people have attempted to create, test and share the best and worst ways to start and end each day.
The world of productivity is obsessed with routines. Copying the routines of people like Benjamin Franklin, Tim Ferris, Jocko Wilink, all in the hopes of emulating their successes.
To quote Aristotle:
‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.’
As we try to build happier, more productive lives, routines are a way to instil habits that make us better. And, as we’ve written before, becoming 1% better each day soon adds up.
What is a routine
Simply put, a routine is a regular way of doing things in a particular order1. You’ve probably got lots of them in your life already. Think of them as a collection of habits that allow your mind to switch off and act without thinking.
Why you need a routine
Routines can make or break your day.
Imagine waking up, completing your most pressing tasks, exercising, eating a nutritious breakfast and working towards your goals all before you start the workday.
Now imagine waking up after snoozing your alarm for an hour. Rushing around to get ready for work on time. You grab a takeaway breakfast and force it down before starting work still half asleep.
Both of these are examples of how mornings go for people all around the world. It’s just that one helps you to become better and the other keeps you exactly where you are.
Think about the person in the first scenario. By the time they start work, they’ve taken care of their mind and body as well as working on themselves. The second example starts the day in a rush and never seems to have time to build a better life.
This is why you need a routine.
Creating a routine
Your routines are a representation of what you value most. When you start down the path of creating your own, it’s good to note down what you want to incorporate. The beauty of this being yours is that, if you don’t like something, you can change it.
If you look at the lives of the most successful people in history, patterns begin to emerge. As Tony Robbins said, ‘Success leaves clues’. The way successful people start and end their days can give you guidance on where to begin planning your life.
Below are some suggestions for you to think about including in your routines:
A morning practice of clearing the mind by writing can increase your creativity, reflect on your thoughts and bring clarity. You’ll also learn more about yourself. Check out our article about journaling to discover just how useful it can be.
It’s no secret that meditation can change your life. Starting your day by bringing some peace can set you up to for success. Practising meditation teaches you how to focus, stay calm and achieve more from your time.
You don’t have to run a marathon or lift heavy weights, get your body moving. It will help get blood and oxygen flowing throughout your body. It’s also a great way to wake you up and energise your day.
Want to learn a new skill or increase the number of books you read? The morning is a great time to sit down with your favourite drink and immerse yourself in a book.
We’ve mentioned the benefits of gratitude practice before. There’s a reason it appears in so many high achievers’ routines. Starting the day by writing 3 things that you are grateful for sets you to be happier, healthier and more likely to achieve your goals.
Something as simple as 6 deep breaths can completely change your mood. Fill your body with oxygen and see how much better you feel.
Plan for the next day.
By planning the night before, you wake up not having to waste any time trying to figure out how to start your day. Having goals already set gives you a reason to get out of bed. When accomplished they act to make you feel like you have achieved something. The paper Project Journal has space for you to write down the most important tasks of the day.
Review your day:
At the end of each day, set aside 10 minutes to review. What went well. What could you improve tomorrow? Did you win the day? Think back to something good that happened. It could have been the taste of a delicious meal, a funny conversation you had or anything that you enjoyed. Take your mind out of the negative and into the positive. This can also be a good time to write down three things that you were grateful for.
Reduce screen time:
Studies have shown that the blue light from your screen can offset your natural body clock and play havoc on sleep patterns2. Instead of watching tv or scrolling through social media in the evening, find something that helps you calm your mind. Yoga, meditation or reading can be great for this.
Routines have the power to change your life. With the right habits, you can set yourself up for success. There is no right or wrong here. Remember, your routines reflect your values. Waking up at 5 AM might not be your thing. It doesn’t matter. Experiment, have some fun and tailor your routines to give you the best possible chance at success.
Whether you’re building a new skill, trying to get fit or start a business, routines provide the structure you need to succeed. If something isn’t working, only you can fix it. Take the ideas above, seek out routines of the greats and combine them into a series of habits that allow you to become your greatest self.