One of the most important paradoxical truths to learn in adulthood is this: some rules, rather than constraining, can actually be incredibly freeing.
It is a fact that successful people follow a daily routine. Ernest Hemingway had one, so does Bill Gates. Following a routine takes the guesswork out of what you should be doing and when. This leaves time for the doing and the getting stuff done.
If you’re constantly putting your energy towards making decisions all day long, that doesn’t leave a lot of room or mental willpower to get through the things on your to-do list. Daily routines not only take the decision-making out of the process, but they also help make actions automatic. This allows us to important tasks done even when our minds are preoccupied with other things, essentially enabling us to save time.
Creating a routine is one-part science and one-part art. The science is figuring out what you need to get done; the art is figuring out when you need to do it. Here are 5 easily achievable steps to help you create a routine.
Five Steps to Create an Effective Routine
The first step is to gather information on what you need to get done daily. Take 30 minutes and jot down everything you do each day. Include everything you’ll most likely skip, but should be doing. The point is to capture all of the tasks you need to get done in a day.
Create a Timetable
Next, assess your energy levels by thinking about when you do your best work. Most people have greater energy for creative thinking in the morning because self-control depletes throughout the day. Therefore, it’s important to reserve the mornings for the tasks that require the most critical thinking and troubleshooting. By the early afternoon your energy has likely dissipated. Use this time to complete the routine items on your list like answering emails, setting appointments, etc. Evenings are for planning and preparation for the next day.
Fill in your Timetable
Combine what you’ve written down in step one with your timetable from step two.
Understand that your work process or schedule may not fit neatly into this and that’s okay. The point is to harness your most productive times to use for your most challenging tasks and your least productive times to complete the more mundane tasks.
Follow your new routine for 30 days. See how things fit and if you’ve scheduled your activities at times that make sense. If you need to make adjustments, after your 30-day test period is the time to do so. Keep in mind that routines become “routine” after two weeks of consistency so be patient.