Today I want to discuss a powerful but misunderstood. That’s routines, some people might call them rituals. These are a set pattern of things that we do on a regular basis. If we can understand them, If we can take advantage of them, they can be really useful in boosting our productivity.

We all have things that we do in a set way. Often we may not even realise it, I know I didn’t until I started to look and to think about it.

We may have a routine that we do

  • in the morning
  • a nighttime routine, a set of steps that we do before we go to bed
  • making a drink
  • making a meal
  • when we’re starting a new project
  • when we finish a project
  • you sign up a new client chance

We often do many of these instinctively, especially if it’s something that you do all the time.

These are some examples but there are lots more.

The idea is to start to look at what you do, to think about what you do, and then try and work out how you can use that to your advantage.

For me, I’ve got a morning routine, chances are it’s very similar for a lot of people:

  • I get up, always a good start to the day that isn’t it
  • I take a shower
  • I pick up the dog’s bowls, t the water bowl I empty out, clean it out and then put down fresh water
  • I make a cup of coffee, to me that caffeine infusion well it’s just a kickstart for the day
  • I sit at my computer and check things like my youtube stats
  • I check my emails
  • I check any messages that have come in overnight
  • I look at what’s going on in my day and make my plan for what I want to achieve that day

The idea here is Inbox Zero. This is my opportunity to clear out anything in my inboxes and get them into my planning system.

This is just an example of a morning routine, and this is something I find really useful.

Where the power comes in, if you want to change what you’re doing, if you want to stop a habit, if you want to create a new habit, knowing your routines means that you can find a routine that matches what you want to do. If you’ve got a client onboarding list and you want to start filling out a new client information sheet, you make that part of that client onboarding routine.

A while back, I decided I wanted to start daily journaling. I looked at my routines and thought “this it’s something I would benefit from doing in the morning.” I adapted my morning routine and I slotted that journaling in between checking my youtube stats and doing my daily plan. I would do the journal and then because you never know if something from the previous day may affect today’s plan.

This allowed me to start to consistently journal. I knew after doing my emails I then journaled and then I planned. That morning routine, that morning ritual, allowed me to easily adopt it.

Another example, a few years ago my wife decided she wanted to stop smoking. When she made this decision, she looked at what triggers her to smoke, when does she smoke? We found a number of things:

  • she would have a cigarette first thing in the morning, she’d make a cup of coffee she would go outside sit on the patio and smoke
  • if she was bored she would smoke
  • if we were having a meal, between the main class and the dessert she would smoke.

By looking at that, by understanding what was triggering it, she was able to adapt her routines.

Now when she gets up she doesn’t make that coffee, she reads the news. That takes away that first thing in the morning craving.

When she was bored, she did she took up a new hobby. When she felt craving, when she was feeling bored, she would just pick up her knitting and knit for a few minutes. Again we identified what was triggering it. We identified the ritual that would happen when she felt that and changed it.

We did the same with our meal. Between the main course and dessert, she would like to go for a cigarette. What we now do is have one hour between finishing our main course and having dessert. That means we’ve got an hour where we’re doing other things. We’ve broken down that desire to have a quick cigarette before dessert.

By identifying your routines, your rituals, and your habits, you’re able to take hold of that understanding and apply that to what you’re doing and use it to make those small changes that increase your productivity.