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Last Updated on December 15, 2020

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

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.

    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

    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 12 Changes to Make When You Feel a Lack of Energy and Motivation 11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

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    Last Updated on January 6, 2021

    14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

    14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

    Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

    In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

    For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

    For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

    Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

    Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

    Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

    How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

    Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

    1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

    Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

    For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

    2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

    Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

    Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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    Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

    3. Create a System

    Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

    This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

    You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

    Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

    Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

    4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

    We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

    If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

    Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

    Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

    5. Use a Ratings Scale

    Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

    Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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    It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

    6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

    This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

    You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

    You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

    7. Offer Feedback Forms

    Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

    First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

    Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

    You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    8. Track Cost Effectiveness

    This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

    Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

    Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

    9. Use Self-Evaluations

    Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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    Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

    10. Monitor Time Management

    This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

    Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

      The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

      While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

      11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

      We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

      Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

      For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

      Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

      Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

      From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

      12. Utilize Peer Feedback

      This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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      Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

      Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

      It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

      13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

      When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

      Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

      Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

      14. Use an External Evaluator

      Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

      They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

      While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

      Final Thoughts

      These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

      The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

      The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

      More Productivity Tips

      Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

      Reference

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