Few things affect your daily productivity, career growth, and overall well-being as strongly as your daily routine. As Will Durant writes in A History of Philosophy (this quote is often mistakenly attributed to Aristotle): “We are what we do all the time.”
Today we know the true importance of these words. According to research, up to 40% of our daily activities are based on habits — unconscious actions and rituals that we have developed over time.
So how do routines and rituals fit into today's workday? And how can we develop those that will increase our productivity, health and well-being?
How do you create a daily routine that you want to stick to?
In its most basic form, a routine is a series of regularly performed activities.
You may have a morning routine of things you do when you wake up (shower, making breakfast, planning the day, commuting). Or an evening routine to help you relax and disconnect from work.
We all have routine procedures (whether we are aware of them or not). However, not everyone deliberately creates their routines to maximise their effectiveness or health.
This is why so many people are interested in the routine of successful entrepreneurs and creatives. We think similar steps will lead to the same results.
But blindly following other people's routines won't make you as productive or happy as someone else. And just because Apple's CEO wakes up at 3:45 am every morning doesn't mean that is the reason for his success and that you should do it too.
Instead, the most successful daily routine is the one that works for you. What matters is not the exact nature of your routine, but that you have it and you stick to it. Here are some things that you can include in your healthy routine:
How much sleep do we really need? Approximately 8-9 hours of sleep is the rest period that helps maintain a high level of productivity and reduces the risk of prematurely ageing or illness.
If you go to bed at about the same time every night then gradually you will start falling asleep and waking up at the time you want automatically. It can be hard to wake up in the morning., on the other hand, it can be very easy to postpone bedtime if you are busy with something interesting. An alarm clock will come to the rescue and not only for waking up. Set your alarm clock an hour before your bedtime, so you can start preparing for sleep on time.
Don't browse the news or scroll through the feed of social networks. The smartphone or other gadgets should be forbidden in the bedroom since the blue light of the screen can disrupt the production of the hormone melatonin and prevent sleep.
Do you forget what you should have done first thing in the morning? If so, write down important morning tasks in the evening and place the list somewhere prominently, for example, stick it to a refrigerator with a magnet. You can also write yourself an inspiring message or quote for tomorrow to get a boost of positive and good mood in the morning.
When you dive right into emails, texts, and Facebook, you lose focus and your morning gives way to the wants and needs of other people. It is far more beneficial to use these precious first moments of the day to relax and create a calm, positive tone for your day.
Jumping straight into electronics has the opposite effect — it's a crazy way to start your day.
Drinking lemon water as soon as you wake up increases your physical and mental energy levels. Lemon water gives you sustained, natural energy that lasts throughout the day by improving the absorption of nutrients in your stomach.
You should drink this first thing in the morning (on an empty stomach) to provide energy.
We all skip breakfast from time to time. But do you really want to take a chance and feel wild hunger in a couple of hours? An empty stomach will drive you crazy.
Eating anything for breakfast puts you ahead of many people. People who eat breakfast are less likely to be obese, have more stable blood sugar levels, and tend to be less hungry during the day. A balanced breakfast will prevent a sharp drop in glucose levels and feelings of uncontrollable hunger, will give you energy during the day, and will increase concentration and mood. Try to eat a healthy breakfast often. Fill a plate with protein, fruits or vegetables, and whole grains.
Everyone worries about their future or past from time to time. But you can start letting go of worries if you focus on the present — even while brushing your teeth after breakfast. Of course, you have performed this morning ritual countless times. But have you ever paid attention to every step, from squeezing a paste out of a tube to rinsing your mouth? This technique will help you relax and focus on the moment.
Even a few minutes a day of this practice can help you deal with stress. There are many ways to meditate, but this tip will get you started. Find somewhere comfortable to sit down. Concentrate on the breath and observe as it goes in and out through the nose, the belly rises and falls. When thoughts begin to wander, return your attention to the breath — and do this several times for at least five minutes.
Cold water is great for waking up the body, and nothing will set you up to work faster than a quick cold shower. Its “bonus offer” is that cold water is much healthier and better for the skin than hot water. A cold shower will give your skin a radiant appearance, and will also relieve minor redness which is common after taking a hot shower.
Researchers at the University of Bristol found that people who exercise during the workday have more energy and a more positive outlook, both of which are critical to achieving your goals. The body produces chemicals that help you feel better during exercise. You will feel more productive after a few exercises. You can include a brisk walk or exercise for 20-30 minutes in your routine. Moving your body in just 10 minutes releases a neurotransmitter that calms your brain and controls your impulses. Even a seven-minute routine that combines light yoga and strength exercises will help you energise and lift your mood.
Exercising first thing in the morning will ensure that you have time to do this, and it improves your self-control and energy levels throughout the day.
Stretching will help prepare your body and your mind. Warm-up for a short run or walk first. If you don't have time for this, take a hot shower or bath. Then take a quick mental scan of your body. Is there muscle tension? Stretch these areas gently for about 30 seconds. Take a deep breath while holding each pose.
Music can help you relieve stress. Collect your favourite relaxing or invigorating tracks into an album. You can listen to them during breakfast or workout. A little dancing time won’t be harmful too.
Stress makes us all discouraged. But there is a way to look at things in a more positive light. Take a few minutes each morning to think about someone or something for which you are grateful. You can write it down in a diary or look at a photograph that will remind you of a person or event. If you are thinking of a friend or loved one who makes your life better, why not call or text them to say thank you?
Research shows that having specific goals correlates with tremendous increases in confidence and a sense of control. Setting goals for the day set everything in motion. Narrow your goals down to a few achievable ones that can be easily broken down into steps.
Vague goals like “I want to finish writing my article” are counterproductive because they don't include “how to do it.” The same goal, paraphrased in a more functional form, would be something like this: “I'm going to finish my article by writing each of the three sections, spending no more than an hour on each section.” Now you have more than just want to achieve — you have a way to achieve it. Make a plan while drinking your favourite coffee.
It's not a secret that most of us can't think about any routine without a good cup of coffee. It's a great way to boost your metabolism and mind. And if you don't make and drink your coffee in a hurry, but slowly enjoy it, it will not only awake you, but also relax you and give you the strength for all the tasks that await you. Having a good quality coffee machine at home can really be a blessing.
Fat is very good for the brain and the so-called “bulletproof coffee” with the addition of oil or other fats is very good for the body in the morning. You can buy the common MCT oil (or “brain octane,” as some call it), or add coconut oil to your coffee if you're a vegetarian or want variety.
Days have a funny way of slipping away, and we don't even realise it. And routine helps us control our time and forces us to stick to our plans. Sometimes these are the simplest actions to help us get through the day and stay motivated.
You've read some simple tips on how your routine can help create a wonderful day. Try to follow them for a month and you will see results. It's not easy, but you can do it. And remember that good luck never comes to those who do nothing.
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