We've all seen the generic routines provided with reasons as to why this one weekly schedule will work for everyone - so why doesn't it do the trick for you?
When forecasting our days and frantically working to get a grip on this myth called time-management, we should stop and consider what may be frustrating us to no end as to why we can't make that one routine work for us. It's due to your unique circumstances, learning styles and what personal hurdles are preventing you from taking action.
A message I want you to keep in mind throughout this quick read: Failing to plan is planning to fail. HOWEVER don't consider yourself a failure just yet - if you're not a natural planner - this will guide you with practical ways to get you into the groove.
So rather than give a generic routine for you to attempt and lose interest in the next week, my goal is to provide tangible steps for you to build a successful, personalized routine that you'll actually stick to (and love!).
This isn't limited to to-do lists, either - that's just the beginning. Our big picture goal here is to set up a daily routine that you can set into place and put into practice TODAY.
Let's first dive into a few attitudes and traits that play an essential, and often unspoken, role in creating a strong routine.
Before You Start Planning - Be Prepared
1) Show up and practice discipline
When we show up in areas that matter, things will begin to shift. Invest time in doing the ordinary (the not-so-flashy or Instagram worthy stuff).
Start today - no excuses. Looking back doesn't help you go forward.
Start by writing down the events/tasks you know are a definitely daily/weekly you want to pursue or continue doing and stick to it. After you have those down, you can start to see where there is room to include the one off's.
One of the major productivity killers, and a good place to start in self-discipline, is procrastination.If you tend to get distracted by what didn't go right in your day or base your level of success on the check marks on a piece of paper or how your emotions are fairing that day - your view of where you're going can get askew (Google that word - you're welcome).
Before figuring out what you want and need to accomplish to, readjust your ideal views success and joy. We can't expect ourselves to be knee deep in to-do lists unless we understand and are on board with what it is we're doing and that if it doesn't get done - it'll still be there tomorrow. What are your major goals for the next year? Are what you're doing today impacting that in a positive or negative way?
The messages you say to yourself hold a lot of weight. And what we take in from other people and sources play a major role in how we go about our days, too.
Commit to being brave enough to move on with your strong goals in mind - a "bad start" to a Monday is no excuse to deter from your greater vision.
2) Determine Your Priorities
This one doesn't need much explanation: In order to really understand what it is you want to accomplish, you need to get a grip on the "bigger picture" goal you are building off of (in line with what I was saying previously).
You don't need to "let the small things go" or abandon anything that isn't a major project - this is the part of building a routine that takes the most brain work because it forces you to justify how one task holds more importance than others.
Once you do this, break down the tasks specifically and concretely with clear, manageable steps.
3) Promote Productivity
With distractions coming at us from every angle, there is a risk in losing the momentum needed to be fully productive in our routines. A major thief of our productive mindset is procrastination (literally the opposite, so go figure). What causes us to procrastinate anyways?
The fear of not getting everything right and unclear goals or steps to get to where we want to be (this can be resolved by following 1 and 2 above!).
What are a couple of simple solutions? Put your dang phone in a drawer, box, or left in a separate room. Tell your people you're busy during whatever time you blocked off for something that needs to get done. Limit distractions - whatever that looks like for you (distractions=anything that goes against your tasks at hand).
If possible, designate a space for the tasks that require you to sit and be attentive. If you have to write bills, study, or simply work in peace - creating a space that is solely for the purpose of getting that gritty work done helps your mind and body know this is where work gets done. No shinanigans welcome.
all of the previous points panned out
Before you plan out your day/week/month - get ALL those ideas, doubts, plans, purchases and even random thoughts you have in your head OUT on scratch paper. Take away from that list what needs to be taken care of and toss the rest.
Rock the Block
A majority of things we want to do in a day don't get done because there are no parameters on WHEN we'll get it done (excluding the appointments and events that are already scheduled for us, of course). Keep in mind the time of day you are MOST productive and tackle the priority list items then.
I know, sometimes things happen and we have to go on a whim - we're talking about the things we KNOW will happen and what we want to happen - not the guess work.
If our agenda is not laid out in front of us to see, we can become scatter brained and spread one task that should've taken 5 minutes into 1 hour.
When blocking time you'll want to include breaks - rather than have them sporadically.
Have you heard of the Pomodoro Technique?
It was invented in the 1990's by an entrepreneur who called it “Pomodoro” - after a tomato-shaped timer used to track his time in college. Whether it’s a large task or a series of small ones, the technique has the user break the work down into timed intervals with short breaks in between each one.
As you focus, you are literally training your brain to be able to work in short bursts and concentrate.
One Pomodoro is typically 25 minutes long followed by a quick 5-minute break.
Remember: this is focused work. The goal is to not be doing anything except that one task for 25-minutes. Nothing else.
Color your tasks by category and/or level of importance. For example, appointments can be vibrant, while tasks are more neutral tones. I know this post is highly on the visual and kinesthetic spectrum of learning (but you can always implement the audio by saying it out loud, or entering your appointments and tasks to your google calendar and have it read off at the beginning of the day - as an example).
I personally use highlighters - each color represents priority levels and / or category : blue is training, purple is miscellaneous employee inquiries that are not urgent, pink is for urgent employee inquiries, green is for compensation related tasks, and orange is for meetings. I put the colored dot to the left of whatever task or appointment I have t
Plan Your Day the Night Before
Success begins the night before! For example, when you spend too much time standing in our closet hoping our outfit for the day will just jump out and say "I'm the one you want!" - 30 minutes later you're wearing your first choice. That could've been avoided if we laid out the clothes the night before!
We already know that you want to succeed - now's time to make the plan before you actually start it.
When you do this, consider a few tasks you need to accomplish within the day in order to be able to say it was a success (rather than bogging yourself down with way too much in the time you have to do it).
If you get more than the three that are highlighted done, GREAT! You did more than you thought you would.
PERSONAL SAMPLE ROUTINE (morning):
5:00am - Wake up (before Q); skin care and hydrate!
5:15am - Time for Self (stretch and/or exercise; devotional)
5:45am - Study with a morning snack until Q wakes up
6:30am - Q's breakfast, get ready for the day / drop off at day care
7:15am - More studying
7:45am - Change out of athliesure-wear for work!
8:00am - Review planner, e-mails, update calendar
9:00am - Team Meetings
10:15am - First break / snack!
INTERRUPTING YOUR REGULAR PROGRAMMING
Having a consistent morning routine (before the "work" day) and a solid evening routine (after dinner, after the kiddos go to bed) is so important.
I say after or before meals and around your child's schedule because when you count on having introvert time when they are up doing their own thing, it's basically impossible to focus on what you need to during that time: YOU.
So get that skin care regimen, go on a run, drink that iced tea, do a mask, read a book, watch Gilmore Girls - whatever helps you get energized for the day and wind down in the evenings.
Everything that happens in between those two consistent regimens changes on the daily, for the most part - these two things shouldn't change.
Consider Implementing THIS into Your Day
I thrive when including these four things into my every day. I notice an increase in energy, my ability to avert to positive thinking and overall productivity levels are higher than when I don't follow suit on these things:
1) Move your body. We've all seen the various options available to us during our extensive time at home like attending live webinars, follow a YouTube channels, or by following our own regimen to exercise. With gyms closed, there's not much accountability to assure we stick to what we're doing. Simply stretching in the morning and evening is vital in order to prevent stiff muscles throughout the date and allow healthy blood flow (also helps us sleep better, too!). No one likes those achy feelings, right?
2) Steer clear of tech immediately after waking up and right before bed (30 minutes after and 30 minutes before - at least). This can negatively impact your focus overtime and steal your energy. Our bodies and minds were not built to take in as much information as we do in the 21st century. It's insane how we are in overdrive 70% + of the time. When you start the day by scrolling social media apps, games, or online shopping, what you saw or did will be in the back of your mind, therefore distracting your from the prioritized part of your routine.
3) Track and double your water intake to assure a balanced energy level throughout the day - and decrease the onset of migraines and dehydration (especially if you are a coffee drinker). Hydrate hydrate hydrate!
4) Get Yourself a Planner (or wall calendar) that works for you. I love seeing my day's of the week laid out next to one another, and I also know I prefer the extra space for random notes, appointment times and check boxes (I'm needy). We all have different preferences, right?
Here are a few planners I drool over as a perfectionist because they are all simply detailed (and if they come with stickers - come on, that ups your planner game by about 110%).
Alright friends, I believe you have the ability to be a boss this week, and the next, and the next!
Not all days are created equal. Some days you'll get it all done as you planned, and others not even close (because life).
Our successes yesterday don't promise the same today: and that's okay!
When hiccups happen, move on ahead and continue to prep for greatness.
You are a boss. And now you have a routine to support that.