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Last Updated on December 15, 2020

What Is a Routine? 9 Ways to Define a Routine That Works

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What Is a Routine? 9 Ways to Define a Routine That Works

When we look to define routine and what it means for our own lives to have a routine that works for us, we realize that a routine can come in many different shapes and sizes. We can have a weekly routine, a daily routine, and even various routines for each day of the week.

This has become a kind of burden, as there are just so many different things that we need to do in a certain order or we will fail at it. However, there is a way to deliver and use our knowledge safely, correctly, and reliably, and we can do that by learning not only to define routine in general, but to define our own routines as individuals.

So what is a routine?

We’ll define routine and teach you how to use it to your advantage each and every day.

What Is a Routine?

To define routine, in its most basic form, it is a set of actions (or just one action) that are done regularly or at specific intervals. For example, it may be somebody’s routine to play tennis each Saturday with a friend. That is one action being repeated each week.

Another person may have a complex morning routine involving waking up at 6 am, reading 15 pages of a book, taking a 10 minute shower, eating a healthy breakfast, etc.

Routines can be monthly, weekly, daily, or even hourly, but the idea is that it helps keep you organized, productive, and focused on your short and long term goals.

Here’s how to make a routine work for you.

1. Make It Personal

Your routine needs to work for you and you alone. You are doing it for yourself, not for anyone else.

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And here is the perfect example:

If you want to succeed in the United States, everyone tells you that you need to wake up at 5:00 am because that’s the only time when you have some quiet time.

Where I live, I have quiet almost the entire day, so following up on that advice isn’t applicable for me. I can wake up at 8:00 am or 9:00 am and still have the same quiet time.

Some people find they are much more productive at night, so waking up early also wouldn’t be the best routine for them. Tap into your self-awareness and discover what will be the best action to add to your specific routine.

2. Do It Every Day

The easiest thing to skip is something that isn’t a habit. If you make your routine a habit, you will follow it every single day.

That’s why people have morning routines or night routines—once built, they are as hard to break as bad routines. Stick to your chosen routine every day for at least a month, and you should find that it becomes second nature.

You can see an example of a great morning routine below:

How to Define a Great Morning Routine

    3. If You Can’t Create One, Find One

    Routines are great if they serve you. If you define a routine but feel it isn’t quite working, then find other people’s routines and see what you can get from that.

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    You don’t need to copy-paste them, but read them for inspiration. Ernest Hemingway got drunk every night, but he woke up every morning, sat down at his typewriter at 9:00 am, and wrote for two hours.

    I can (usually do) skip the drinking part, but the allure of the morning writing is the one which inspired me to create my “write 500 words a day” routine.

    4. Create a Checklist

    Our brains are fallible and forget things so easily, but if you create a checklist and have it on paper (phone lists work as well), you have it in written form and out of your head[1].

    So get a checklist for your routine and get it out of your head. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Even the flight takeoff checklist is only 21 items, and they fly a plane.

    Pick the most important elements and write them down for your routine.

    When I publish my articles, I have the following routine (brand publishing document):

    • Meta tag and keyword
    • Grammar check
    • Picture size in-text (560)
    • Create cover photo in Canva
    • MailChimp pop-up
    • Color links in blue
    • Read out loud once to spot faulty paragraphs and clunky sentences

    For me, these are the most important elements when publishing articles on my website, but they don’t have to be for you.

    5. Be Flexible With Time, but Rigorous in Implementation

    When looking to define a routine that works for you, it’s crucial that you do every element from the list. However, you don’t have to maintain the same intensity every single time. Always do the task (read a book today), but you don’t always have to do the intensity (read 20 pages today).

    Be rigorous when implementing the activity because that’s how you create a routine (and a habit), but the intensity doesn’t always have to be there. Just make sure that you do it because your brain values consistency.

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    Going once to the gym to exercise for 8 hours won’t make a difference, but going twenty times for 30 minutes most certainly will.

    6. You Do It for the Flow

    Don’t create a routine for the routine’s sake. Realize that it’s a tool for you.

    Find a routine that will help you slip into a state of calm and focus. For example, before you sit down to work each day, maybe you take a short walk and drink a cup of coffee. This helps put you into a mindset that will more easily slip into a state of flow[2].

    7. Always Follow the Process, Even If You Win

    I did around 100 workshops successfully in two languages and 7 different countries in Europe, for audiences ranging from 20 to 250 people.

    And to have that succeed and define a routine that was successful, I always followed the same process:

    • Research the topic
    • Write a session outline
    • Fill in the details
    • Create a PowerPoint presentation
    • Rehearse once for the flow of the sessions
    • Rehearse once to match the presentation with the talk
    • Rehearse once to match the correct time it takes to cover elements of the talk

    After I’d done it 100 times, I thought I knew what needed to be done, so I skipped the process. The next workshop was a 4/10 when it could have been a 9 or a 10/10.

    Follow the process, even when you become successful, because that’s the thing that made you successful in the first place.

    8. Make Stuff Happen Continuously

    Imagine doing a safety check for plane lift-off 9,750 times and nothing happens. Would you do it for 9,751st time?

    Most of us wouldn’t, but most of us aren’t Chesley Sullenberger, aka “Sully.” If the name sounds familiar, it is the pilot who landed an Airbus A320 in the Hudson River and saved everyone from the plane with 0 casualties. All 155 passengers and all of the crew members survived.

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    All of that happened not because he followed the routine that one time but because he followed the routine 9750 times before that.

    9. Trust the Process

    Imagine yourself in a room, and in front of you, you have an ice cube which you need to melt. The current temperature of the room is -2 Celsius.

    You start running around to heat the room, exercising and making sure you create heat. Suddenly, the room goes to -1 Celsius, but you don’t notice it and continue doing your routine.

    Then, after a little while, the room goes to 0 Celsius degrees, and you just need a little more heat for the ice cube to start melting.

    The thing is that you can’t see the thermometer, and you don’t notice the increase in the temperature, so you conclude that your routine doesn’t work, and you lose it.

    You later realize that you stopped a meter before the diamond mine. This is what happens when you don’t see the results immediately and think that your routine doesn’t work.

    Stick with it for 6 to 9 months and see if it doesn’t work then. For example, going to the gym once won’t make you stronger, but going twice a week for six months certainly will. Reading one book won’t make you wise, but reading one book each month for a year will get you closer.

    But if you do these actions consistently, you will get there.

    Final Thoughts

    When you are looking to define a routine that works for you and your life, remember that it will take experimentation, as well as dedication. It can take months before you see the fruits of a routine start to appear, so practice patience and don’t expect change from one day to the next. Simply trust that change is coming.

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    More About Habits and Routines

    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Bruno Boksic

    An expert in habit building

    How to Make a Change With the Four Quadrants of Change 11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits 13 Things to Put on Your Daily Checklist for Boosted Productivity How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier What Is a Routine? 9 Ways to Define a Routine That Works

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    Last Updated on October 7, 2021

    Are You Addicted to Productivity?

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    Are You Addicted to Productivity?

    “It’s great to be productive. It really is. But sometimes, we chase productivity so much that it makes us, well, unproductive. It’s easy to read a lot about how to be more productive, but don’t forget that you have to make that time up.”

    Matt Cutts wrote that back in 2013,[1]

    “Today, search for ‘productivity’ and Google will come back with about 663,000,000 results. If you decide to go down this rabbit hole, you’ll be bombarded by a seemingly endless amount of content. I’m talking about books, blogs, videos, apps, podcasts, scientific studies, and subreddits all dedicated to productivity.”

    Like so many other people, I’ve also fallen into this trap. For years I’ve been on the lookout for trends and hacks that will help me work faster and more efficiently — and also trends that help me help others to be faster. I’ve experimented with various strategies and tools . And, while some of these strategies and solutions have been extremely useful — without parsing out what you need quickly — it’s counterproductive.

    Sometimes you end up spending more time focusing on how to be productive instead of actually being productive.

    “The most productive people I know don’t read these books, they don’t watch these videos, they don’t try a new app every month,” James Bedell wrote in a Medium post.[2] “They are far too busy getting things done to read about Getting Things Done.”

    This is my mantra:

    I proudly say, “I am addicted to productivity — I want to be addicted to productivity — productivity is my life and my mission — and I also want to find the best way to lead others through productivity to their best selves.

    But most of the time productivity means putting your head down and working until the job’s done.” –John Rampton

    Addiction to Productivity is Real

    Dr. Sandra Chapman, director of the University of Texas at Dallas Center for BrainHealth points out that the brain can get addicted to productivity just as it can to more common sources of addiction, such as drugs, gambling, eating, and shopping.

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    “A person might crave the recognition their work gives them or the salary increases they get,” Chapman told the BBC.[3] “The problem is that just like all addictions, over time, a person needs more and more to be satisfied, and then it starts to work against you. Withdrawal symptoms include increased anxiety, depression, and fear.”

    Despite the harmful consequences, addiction is considered by some experts as a brain disease that affects the brain’s reward system and ends in compulsive behavior. Regardless, society tends to reward productivity — or at least to treat it positively. As a result, this makes the problem even worse.

    “It’s seen like a good thing: the more you work, the better,” adds Chapman. “Many people don’t realize the harm it causes until a divorce occurs and a family is broken apart, or the toll it takes on mental health.”

    Because of the occasional negative issues with productivity, it’s no surprise that it is considered a “mixed-blessing addiction.”

    “A workaholic might be earning a lot of money, just as an exercise addict is very fit,” explains Dr. Mark Griffiths, distinguished professor of behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University. “But the thing about any addiction is that in the long run, the detrimental effects outweigh any short-term benefits.”

    “There may be an initial period where the individual who is developing a work addiction is more productive than someone who isn’t addicted to work, but it will get to a point when they are no longer productive, and their health and relationships are affected,” Griffiths writes in Psychology Today.[4] “It could be after one year or more, but if the individual doesn’t do anything about it, they could end up having serious health consequences.”

    “For instance, I speculated that the consequences of work addiction may be reclassified as something else: If someone ends up dying of a work-related heart attack, it isn’t necessarily seen as having anything to do with an addiction per se – it might be attributed to something like burnout,” he adds.

    There Are Three “Distinct Extreme Productivity Types

    Cyril Peupion, a Sydney-based productivity expert, has observed extreme productivity among clients at both large and medium-sized companies. “Most people who come to me are high performers and very successful. But often, the word they use to describe their work style is ‘unsustainable,’ and they need help getting it back on track.”

    By changing their work habits, Peupion assists teams and individuals improve their performance and ensure that their efforts are aligned with the overarching strategy of the business, rather than focusing on work as a means to an end. He has distinguished three types of extreme productivity in his classification: efficiency obsessive, selfishly productive, and quantity-obsessed.

    Efficiency obsessive. “Their desks are super tidy and their pens are probably color-coded. They are the master of ‘inbox zero.’ But they have lost sight of the big picture, and don’t know the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.”

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    Selfishly productive. “They are so focused on their own world that if they are asked to do something outside of it, they aren’t interested. They do have the big picture in mind, but the picture is too much about them.”

    Quantity-obsessed. “They think; ‘The more emails I respond to, the more meetings I attend, the more tasks I do, the higher my performance.’ As a result, they face a real risk of burnout.”

    Peupion believes that “quantity obsessed” individuals are the most common type “because there is a pervasive belief that ‘more’ means ‘better’ at work.”

    The Warning Signs of Productivity Addiction

    Here are a few questions you should ask yourself if you think you may be succumbing to productivity addiction. After all, most of us aren’t aware of this until it’s too late.

    • Can you tell when you’re “wasting” time? If so, have you ever felt guilty about it?
    • Does technology play a big part in optimizing your time management?
    • Do you talk about how busy you are most of the time? In your opinion, is hustling better than doing less?
    • What is your relationship with your email inbox? Are you constantly checking it or experience phantom notifications?
    • When you only check one item off your list, do you feel guilty?
    • Does stress from work interfere with your sleep?
    • Have you been putting things off, like a vacation or side project, because you’re “too swamped?

    The first step toward turning around your productivity obsession is to recognize it. If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then it’s time to make a plan to overcome your addiction to productivity.

    Overcoming Your Productivity Addiction

    Thankfully, there are ways to curb your productivity addiction. And, here are 9 such ways to achieve that goal.

    1. Set Limits

    Just because you’re hooked on productivity doesn’t mean you have to completely abstain from it. Instead, you need to establish boundaries.

    For example, there are a lot of amazing productivity podcasts out there. But, that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them all in the course of a day. Instead, you could listen to one or two podcasts, like The Productivity Podcast or Before Breakfast, during your commute. And, that would be your only time of the day to get your productivity fix.

    2. Create a Not-to-Do List

    Essentially, the idea of a not-to-do list is to eliminate the need to practice self-discipline. Getting rid of low-value tasks and bad habits will allow you to focus on what you really want to do as opposed to weighing the pros and cons or declining time requests. More importantly, this prevents you from feeling guilty about not crossing everything off an unrealistic to-do list.

    3. Be Vulnerable

    By this, I mean admitting where you could improve. For example, if you’re new to remote work and are struggling with thi s, you would only focus on topics in this area. Suggestions would be how to create a workspace at home, not getting distracted when the kids aren’t in school, or improving remote communication and collaboration with others.

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    4. Understand Why You Procrastinate

    Often, we procrastinate to minimize negative emotions like boredom or stress. Other times it could be because it’s a learned trait, underestimating how long it takes you to complete something or having a bias towards a task.

    Regardless of the exact reason, we end up doing busy work, scrolling social media, or just watching one more episode of our favorite TV series. And, even though we know that it’s not for the best, we do things that make us feel better than the work we should do to restore our mood.[5]

    There are a lot of ways to overcome procrastination. But, the first step is to be aware of it so that you can take action. For example, if you’re dreading a difficult task, don’t just watch Netflix. Instead, procrastinate more efficiently,y like returning a phone call or working on a client pitch.

    5. Don’t Be a Copycat

    Let’s keep this short and sweet. When you find a productivity app or technique that works for you, stick with it.

    That’s not to say that you can’t make adjustments along the way or try new tools or hacks. However, the main takeaway should be that just because someone swears by the Pomodoro Technique doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you.

    6. Say Yes to Less

    Across the board, your philosophy should be less is more.

    That means only download the apps you actually use and want to keep (after you try them out) and uninstall the ones you don’t use. For example, are you currently reading a book on productivity? Don’t buy your next book until you’ve finished the one you’re currently reading (or permit yourself to toss a book that isn’t doing you any good). — and if you really want to finish a book more quickly, listen to the book on your way to work and back.

    Already have plans this weekend? Don’t commit to a birthday party. And, if you’re day is booked, decline that last-minute meeting request.

    7. Stop Focusing on What’s Next

    “In the age when purchasing a thing from overseas is just one click and talking to another person is one swipe right, acquiring new objects or experiences can be addictive like anything else,” writes Patrick Banks for Lifehack .

    “That doesn’t need to be you,” he adds. “You can stop your addition to ‘the next thing’ starting today.” After all, “there will always be this next thing if you don’t make a conscious decision to get your life back together and be the one in charge.”

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    • Think about your current lifestyle and the person you’re at this stage to help you identify what you aren’t satisfied with.
    • By setting clear goals for yourself in the future, you will be able to overcome your addiction.
    • Establish realistic goals.
    • To combat addiction, you must be aware of what is going on around you, as well as inside your head, at any given time.
    • Don’t spend time with people who have unhealthy behaviors.
    • Hold yourself accountable.
    • Keep a journal and write out what you want to overcome.
    • Appreciate no longer being addicted to what’s next.

    8. Simplify

    Each day, pick one priority task. That’s it. As long as you concentrate on one task at a time, you will be less likely to get distracted or overwhelmed by an endless list of tasks. A simple mantra to live by is: work smarter, not harder.

    The same is also accurate with productivity hacks and tools. Bullet journaling is a great example. Unfortunately, for many, a bullet journal is way more time-consuming and overwhelming than a traditional planner.

    9. Learn How to Relax

    “Sure, we need to produce sometimes, especially if we have to pay the bills, but, banning obsession with productivity is unhealthy,” writes Leo Babauta. “When you can’t get yourself to be productive, relax.” Don’t worry about being hyper-efficient. And, don’t beat yourself up about having fun.

    “But what if you can’t motivate yourself … ever?” he asks. “Sure, that can be a problem. But if you relax and enjoy yourself, you’ll be happier.”

    “And if you work when you get excited, on things you’re excited about, and create amazing things, that’s motivation,” Leo states. “Not forcing yourself to work when you don’t want to, on things you don’t want to work on — motivation is doing things you love when you get excited.”

    But, how exactly can you relax? Here are some tips from Leo;

    • Spend 5 minutes walking outside and breathe in the fresh air.
    • Give yourself more time to accomplish things. Less rushing means less stress.
    • If you can, get outside after work to enjoy nature.
    • Play like a child. Even better? Play with your kids. And, have fun at work — maybe give gamification a try .
    • Take the day off, rest, and do something non-work-related.
    • Allow yourself an hour of time off. Try not to be productive during that time. Just relax.
    • You should work with someone who is exciting. Make your project exciting.
    • Don’t work in the evenings. Seriously.
    • Visit a massage therapist.
    • Just breathe.

    “Step by step, learn to relax,” he suggests. “Learn that productivity isn’t everything.” For that statement, sorry Leo, I say productivity isn’t everything — it’s the only thing.” However, if you can’t cut loose, relax, do fun things, and do the living part of your life — you’ll crack in a big way — you really will.

    It’s great to create and push forward — just remember it doesn’t mean that every minute must be spent working or obsessing over productivity issues. Instead, invest your time in meaningful, high-impact work, get into it, focus, put in big time and then relax.

    Are You Addicted to Productivity? was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

    Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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    Reference

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