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6 Top Ways to Improve Your Daily Routine

6 Top Ways to Improve Your Daily Routine
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Are you always in a hurry yet never manage to complete your work before deadline? Are you consumed by jealousy for people who have a much greater workload but manage to do their job in half the time? You’ve probably tried to improve your daily routine, but with no results. Nobody has more than 24 hours in a day, but some people seem to always get much more done than others. How do they do it?

The answer certainly isn’t some supernatural ability: it is simply effective use of time. Just use your willpower and our tips to make the most of your everyday life. You’ll find that you’ll be able to improve your daily routine right away.

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1. Optimize your work

The best rest is change of work. Break up your workday into interchanging periods of 45 and 15 minutes, and switch between tasks. Try to make sure the tasks are completely different from one another. Looks like a waste of time? Try it out and see how your output changes.

2. Set up a schedule

In order to minimize time loss on transitions from one activity to another you should make sure you always know when and for how long you are going to do each task. If you always start doing something at exactly the same time every day it will soon become an ingrained habit, saving you precious minutes otherwise spent on deciding what to do next.

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3. Minimizing time wasted on routines

There are millions of tips on how to reduce time spent on mundane activities like cooking and home cleaning, but one thing works surprisingly well: set the amount of time you are willing to spend on them each week and each day and never exceed it. You will be surprised how resourceful you become in the face of a self-imposed deadline.

4. Include exercise in your daily schedule

More and more people today understand that physical exercise is good for them. What a lot of people don’t get is that in order to reap any benefits from exercise, it needs to be systematic, regular and, preferably, daily.

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If you really want to improve the quality of your life you should have at least 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week. It will not only make you feel better, but also increase your clarity of mind, quality of sleep, and general productivity.

5. Maintaining your productivity throughout the day

Establish and define your workspace. This is especially important if you work at home, but even if you spend your day in a cubicle it will pay off. Make sure that the place where you work is exactly this—the place where you work. It shouldn’t be associated with any other activities, like chatting or watching TV.

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In addition, make sure your workspace is healthy. It should get plenty of light and air and your chair and desk should be comfortable. Again, if you work at home it may be a good idea to do a mold testing. The presence of harmful molds may severely affect the quality of air, which in turn will affect your productivity and may have long-term health consequences.

6. Use tools that will help you concentrate

In the Internet age distractions are perhaps an even greater enemy of productivity than at any previous historical period. But in order to fight them you may be able to use the very place they come from. The Web is rife with online tools that help you concentrate on the task at hand. Some block distracting sites while you work, others help you track how much time you waste, others isolate you from social networks.

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Only you can define how productive your life is going to be. Figure out how to really improve your daily routine and you may accomplish twice as much as you used to, in half the time. Hopefully these tips will help you make the first step.

Featured photo credit: Deadlines/Flee via flickr.com

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Melissa Burns

Melissa is an entrepreneur and independent journalist. She writes about communication, entrepreneurship and success on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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