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Your Routine is the Key to Achieving Your Goals

Your Routine is the Key to Achieving Your Goals

When I look back at the goals I’ve achieved, the ones I’ve almost achieved and the ones that continue to sit there, staring me in the face, day after day after day I’ve started to come to a strong realization about goal setting.

It’s not about breaking the goal down into smaller parts to make it easier to achieve or putting a deadline on when to achieve it; it’s something much smaller, much simpler and yes, so obvious – it’s about the routine.

Take a moment and look back on some of the goals you tried to achieve over the last 3 months?

Why did you fail?

Were your goals too vague?

Did you not have the proper level of support from your friend to achieve it?

Was it because you didn’t have the time to achieve it?

Why did you not have the proper amount of time to achieve it?

Did you start out and set some unrealistic expectations of yourself that were hard to mingle into the rest of your life once you started?

Did you start but not really commit to achieving it?

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Were you never able to find the time to work on it?

Bingo.

I’ve been struggling with achieving some of my own goals lately (the large ones).  When I looked back and compared to the goals I had achieved during the same time period, I started to see a pattern emerge.

I had a Routine.

For the goalsI achieved, I had a routine that I kept to whether it was every day or every other day and for the ones that I didn’t, I had a sheet with some bullet points on it that I tried to cross out week after week but was never able to do so – no matter how hard I tried.

If we now understand the importance of setting a routine in relation to our goal achievement what do we need to consider in setting a proper routine that will enable us to succeed?

Establish the Routine at the same time as your Goal

Dreaming about achieving “something” is the path to creating a Goal, creating a routine is the road to the execution of that goal. If you are committed and serious about creating and achieving your goal – build a routine for when you are going to work on it while you are dreaming (yes dreaming) it up.

Don’t wait, don’t put it off, don’t put it on your TODO list – do it now – set the tone for your achievement now.

If you are worried about skipping out on your new routine – write it down, put a reminder in your phone – whatever works for you. The most important part in creating a routine are the triggers that drive us to take action – so these little cues are critical to your success.

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For instance, if you are consistently finished working at the end of the day at x time, set that event for the trigger for your routine. Instead of watching TV, spend 30 minutes on achieving your goal, set the timer, block everything out, make it happen.

The routine needs to fit into your schedule

Now that you have created the routine – is it realistic, is it achievable?

In any routine, this is the first barrier to goal achievement.

If you are working 10-hour days, then having to come home and get your kids off to activities, scheduling 4 hours of work to happen on a daily basis isn’t going to work for you. After 2 days you will stop from sheer exhaustion and frustration.

We are all busy; we are all trying to grow and develop and our goals are outside of the norm of what everyone else is trying to do.

This is exactly why it is so imperative that you set your goals to fit into your schedule and not make them totally unrealistic to achieve. If you need to start earlier in the day to make it happen, do that; maybe do an extra hour every other night to get started before going full tilt all the time.

Make it realistic, make it possible, make it doable. Doing 8 minutes of pushups every morning, every day will add up to 56 minutes of pushups you weren’t doing the week before – that is achievement.

The goal is not to achieve it as fast as possible, but to make progress towards it.

Remove distractions from your routine

One of the greatest barriers to resistance with routines are the distractions that surround us. I stayed up too late, so now I’m tired in the morning. I didn’t put out my clothes the night before so now I don’t want to go jogging.

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Case in point: I play hockey at 7am once a week; to get there (and be alert) I need to get up at 6am. To go, I need my work bag ready for the day; I need my hockey bag and all my gear, towel, etc in it. I need my stick and water bottle and then I can go.

All in all, I need to everything together so I’m not stumbling around in the dark in the morning.

The night before, I put it all in my car—I have that battle with myself the night before. So when I wake up in the morning, all I need to do is look down at my feet, put on the clothes I’ve laid out, put on a jacket, eat and get in the car.

My success rate when I do this is incredibly higher because I had the battle with myself the night before, not the morning of, not in the heat of the moment where other temptations were high. In that instance, I am committed.

And on the days when I don’t do this, my success is incredibly lower – the excuses rise up.  Even if I am feeling sick, I will still go if everything was laid out the night before.

Why?

Part of it is embarrassment. If I sleep in and then wake up, get into my car and start the drive to work what is there waiting for me?

My equipment – that whole ride to work is just me and my equipment, staring at me, laughing at me, making me feel like a fool for not getting up and hitting that goal.

In the case where you think it is going to take five hours a week to achieve your goal – set 5 hours aside to work on that goal so you are there, focused and working on it. If you need to have a quiet space to work in or have your favourite mug with you – make it happen.

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Achievement of our goals are driven by execution and our execution is driven by the creation of realistic, focused, deliberate routines that are free from distractions, excuses and obstacles and work within our schedules to achieve them.

Think about goals you have right now at work or in your personal life?

Why is that project still not finished?

Why have you not finished the siding on the house?

Why have you not started your new floor?

You might think it’s your commitment or your goal being too lofty, but perhaps it really that you never created a routine that you could really commit to to drive toward its completion.

Featured photo credit: VIKTOR HANACEK via picjumbo.com

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Greg Thomas

Software Architect

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Last Updated on April 6, 2020

15 Best Productivity Hacks for Procrastinators

15 Best Productivity Hacks for Procrastinators

Let me guess.

You should be doing something else rather than reading this article. But due to some unknown force of nature, you decided to procrastinate by reading an article about how to hack procrastination. You deserve a pat on the back.

Fortunately, procrastination is not a disease. It’s just a mindset that can be changed, however, here are some productivity tips you need to start getting work done:

First, you need to acknowledge that procrastinating is an unhealthy habit. Not only you’re prioritizing unimportant things, basically, nothing gets done. Still unsure if you’re a procrastinator? Check out this article: Types of Procrastination (And How To Fix Procrastination And Start Doing)

Second, your commitment to change is very important. You should be physically, emotionally, and mentally determined to change this habit. If not, then you’ll just succumb to the tempting lure of doing other things rather than your tasks or chores.

Here are sthe best productivity hacks to improve productivity and keep yourself from procrastinating at work:

1. Give (10+2)*5 a Try

Let’s start with a classic but very effective hack called (10+2)*5 created by Merlin Mann,[1] author of 43Folders.com. Don’t worry. This is not a complicated Mathematical formula you need to solve.

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The (10+2)*5 simply means 10 minutes work + 2 minutes break multiplied by 5, completing 1 hour. It is crucial to stick with the time limits and not skipping work and break schedules. The point of this is for you to create a jam-packed routine of work and break schedules. The result? You will eventually skip your break schedules.

2. Use Red and Blue More Often

Clean your desk and remove things that might distract you. According to a Science Daily study[2] about which colors improve brain performance, red was found out to increase attention to details while blue sparks creativity. Surrounding your workplace with these colors not only benefits your brain, it’s also pleasing to the eye.

3. Create a Break Agenda

List all the things you want to do on your break, be it surfing the web, checking your emails, snack time, taking selfies, Facebook/Twitter—everything.

Like the (10+2)*5 hack, squeeze these in between work time but the difference is you schedule these activities for ONLY 20 minutes. Eventually, you’ll take your break minutes wisely. You’re finishing tasks while sidetracking to doing the things you enjoy.

4. Set a Timetable for Your Tasks

Like any other habits, procrastinating is a tough wall to break. Replace this habit with another habit. When you’re assigned a task, set a timetable for each step. Let’s say you have a big research task. Here’s a sample timetable:

9:00 – 9:10 am – Set up all your tools, browser tabs, emails, coffee, etc..
9:10 – 10:00 am – Internet research
10:00 – 10:45 am – Look through existing files
10:45 – 11:00 am – Break time!
11:00 – 12:00 pm – Outline the research report

Deadlines are the best hack for getting things done. Setting a specific time to finish a task creates time pressure even if the deadline has passed.

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5. Take It Outside!

Do yourself a favor and don’t ruin the comfy vibe of your home. If you need to work on a stressful project, do it in a library or coffee shop. You’ll never finish it anyway. Your cozy sofa and toasty bed will just lure you into napping yourself to doom.

6. Become Productively Lazy

Instead of finding all sorts of ways to unproductively procrastinate, use your habit to look for shortcuts and new ways to finish your tasks. Staple multiple papers at a time or master the 3-second t-shirt folding technique. A strong drive combined with laziness sometimes bring out the productive and creative side you never knew you have!

7. Assign a ‘Task Deputy’

It could be your colleague, your supervisor, or your significant other, anyone who has the unforgiving guts to reprimand you when you procrastinate. You could go the extra mile by paying up unfinished tasks or times you open your Facebook or watch a funny cat video on YouTube. Let’s see how five bucks every time you procrastinate will change you.

8. Consider a Gadget-Free Desk

According to a study by Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, average users check on their phones 150 times per day and having your phone just an elbow away just creates sizzle to this habit.[3]

Removing mobile devices and gadgets allows you to focus on your work without the constant interruption from notifications, calls, and text messages. It eliminates the very distracting ambiance and the urge to unlock your phone just because.

9. Prepping the Night

Before hitting the sack to oblivion, prepare everything you’ll need the next day. This will probably take you 15 minutes tops, saving you more time for coffee in the morning.

Spin class at am? Pack up your gym clothes, shoes, socks, etc. or better, create a checklist so you don’t miss anything. You can also prep your food into containers and just grab one before leaving.

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10. Do a 7-Minute Workout in the Morning

Exercising is proven to increase productivity and stimulate release of endorphin or “Happy Hormones”.

Take a jog outdoors and get warmed up for the day. Don’t feel like running outside? Hop on a treadmilli. It’s a great investment and there are a lot of ways you can use a treadmill like endurance running and metabolism training. On a budget? Here’s a 7 minute, no-equipment needed workout you can do at home:

11. Set-up Mini Tasks

If you’re given a big project, break it down into mini tasks. Create a checklist and start with the easy ones until you finish. Got an article to write? Just start with the title and the first sentence. Or perhaps you have a visual presentation to make?

Spend 15 minutes on your outline, take five minutes coffee break, then finish the first two slides. Accomplishing something, no matter how tiny, still gives you that sense of fulfillment.

12. Create an Inspirational Board or Reminder

I found these mini desk chalkboards from Etsy you can use to write motivating quotes.

Or you know what? Simply write “Do it now!” and stare at it for 10 seconds every time you feel like dropping by on Reddit.

13. Redecorate Your Room

Redecorating my room motivates me to maintain that ‘new’ look for some time until I get use to it and eventually stop. So I redecorate again and again, it became a monthly habit really. Here are some DIY ideas you can do to any room without spending much.

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14. Ready Your Nibbles

You know that trip to the pantry? It’s just seconds away but it took you several minutes just to get your fruit snacks in the fridge. Before starting a task, prepare your nibbles on your desk to avoid zoning out and losing yourself on the way to the pantry.

Bonus productivity hacks you can do at home:

15. Schedule Your Chores

Write down your chores in a weekly basis with matching day and time when you should be doing these.

For the artsy folks, you can create fun chore charts like these or simply stick the list somewhere visibly annoying e.g. mirrors, doors, TV. The trick is listing as many chores as you can for the week and including unfinished chores the following week. Who likes seeing a long list of chores first thing in the morning?

More Tips to Overcome Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters via unsplash.com

Reference

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