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How to Build a Daily Routine That Works

Small things done every day make bigger changes in your life than anything that happens occasionally. Build a daily routine that works to create stability, organisation, and day’s that run smoothly. 

A daily routine can create white space in our planners, help us to focus on the important things, improve time management and consistency and encourage us to live a life with positive habits.

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Who you are can be traced back to your daily habits and routines. If you are happy, unhappy, successful or unsuccessful. Who we are is based on our daily choices and actions. Forming intentional daily habits can form the foundation for improving your life in any are that is a priority for you or all aspects of your life.

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Benefits of Daily Routines

Some people will say that routines can be too restrictive and remove the spontaneous joy that you can experience in life. In actual fact, these same routines can be the catalyst that creates these opportunities and give you the time to enjoy these opportunities.

  • Routines help you to work out what is important to you and prioritise those things as a part of your daily life. It keeps these aspects of your life front and centre. Daily routines have the power to make you think about your priorities daily and make choices around those priorities.
  • They have the potential to keep you from being distracted by the ‘shiny objects’ that bombard us daily. When you are confident in your knowledge of what is important to you, these distractions are more noticeable and this knowledge helps you to consider if these distractions are worth your time, effort, money or energy.
  • Developing routines or daily habits gives you a more economical workflow, freeing up time to be more productive or create white space for yourself or spend time with loved ones.
  • Daily routines are the source of momentum and a continual forward motion in life. Once you start to see the progress you can make through the power of daily routines, you will be motivated to continue developing and perfecting these routines and continue to build the forward momentum.
  • You will find that the control you have over your own life will improve your mental wellbeing.
  • A routine will give your brain structure that it needs to help you continue moving forward.
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Negatives of Daily Routines

Sometimes we have routines in our life that we don’t even know are there. Do you stop at your favourite drive-thru on your way home from work, do you have the habit of skipping breakfast? These can have a negative impact on your life over the long term. 

Before walking through the five steps below, schedule some time to look at your life and identify the habits you have that you may not have been aware of, that you would like to change. Do you want to watch less television, spend less time scrolling through social media, less time snoozing on the couch in the afternoon? These are perfect examples of changing your routine and finding time to create a life that you love. To create a daily routine that works for you, you will need to invest some time to consider exactly what it is that you want – not what someone else wants.

Shouldn’t I Just Follow the Routines of Successful People?

In short, no! They are living a different life, with different aspirations to you. Each of us has a unique set of circumstances and priorities that must be considered.

If you are not a morning person, and you find yourself to be more productive in the evening, then you should not be getting up at 4am to run a marathon each morning. Use your time wisely. Use your most alert, more functional hours to get specific tasks done and work the other important aspects that you want to build into your daily routine around that. If you are most productive in the morning, then perhaps that is the best time for you to get your creative work done, followed by some exercise then leave the emails until after dinner. Find a system that works for you – not a system that works for someone else.

Absolutely, look at their routines and use them for inspiration. Incorporate some of their routines into your own daily routine, or give it a trial run. But ultimately, you will need to tweak and adjust things to suit the way you want your life to look. If you try to be someone else – you will not succeed.

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Five Proven Steps

If you are taking this time to make a fresh start and begin to develop healthy habits, but are unsure where to begin. Use the steps below as a starting point. These are my five proven steps for creating a daily routine that works for you.

Step 1 – Motivation

It’s important to understand your ‘why’. Why do you want to develop a positive set of daily routines? What is your motivation? Is it to reduce stress, create more time, be more productive, lose weight, make healthier choices, spend more time with loved ones or something completely different. Find your motivation, your  ‘why’! Take some time to do this, talk to people you trust and love to help you if that is something that would work for you.

Step 2 – The Present

Take an objective look at your life as it is right now. This is not the time for judgements, that is not productive or helpful. And it definitely isn’t helpful. Take the attitude of ‘it is what it is’. By being honest about where you are right now and what your life currently looks like, you will find it easier to find your motivation and identify the areas you want to work on. If it helps, make a list of the daily activities in your life. The good, the bad and the ugly. These tasks can be as significant or basic as you need it to be. Write down everything from the fact that you don’t make your bed to brushing your teeth.

Step 3 – The Future

Look ahead and imagine a realistic view of what you would like your life to look like. List all the important things that you would like to have in your life. Consider your own physical and mental wellbeing, your family life, career and anything that is important to you.

Step 4 – Be Realistic

A daily routine that works, must be achievable. Don’t dream the unachievable – I’d like to look like a supermodel and date rich men. Find the real things in life that matter to you and imagine what your life would be like if you nurtured those priorities. If it is too overwhelming to deal with the whole picture first up,  just start with one aspect of your life, one new habit at a time. Perhaps start with, get up 15 minutes earlier and go for a 15 minute walk or take 5 minutes to stretch before going to bed 3 times each week. The most important thing is to be making the commitment to moving forward in a way that works for you.

Step 5 – Review

Does your new daily routine work for you? Put time aside in your planner to review what worked, what doesn’t work or might need to be changed slightly. Get rid of anything that is not right for you at the moment and work on the things that will work for you right now. Review your routines regularly. Think about them daily, as you are going through the new motions. Schedule time weekly to consider the week past and plan what you’ll do moving forward. Over time, you will build positive behaviours that work for you and you will need to review less often.

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What Could Your Daily Routine Include?

So how do you create a daily routine that works for you? At the very least, you should have a morning routine that sets you up for a productive, positive day and an evening routine to place a hold on your day and give yourself the best chance of a sound, quality sleep.

If you are looking for inspiration for exactly where to start and what to include in your routine, here are some suggestions that you might like to consider:

  • Healthy breakfast
  • Exercise (that works for you – a brisk walk is the perfect way to clear your head and refocus your brain)
  • Make your bed
  • Wake up 15 minutes earlier until that is a habit, then wake up 15 minutes earlier again.
  • Eat the frog – get that horrid task done and out of the way, everything else that you have to tackle will seem simple
  • Create and follow a schedule
  • Incorporate meditation into your daily routine
  • Batch your tasks for increased productivity – for example, Monday could be the day you tackle one aspect of your work life, Tuesday could be the day for something else.
  • Write a journal
  • Practice gratitude journaling
  • Don’t look at email until after morning tea – or lunch
  • Don’t forget to include family and hobbies
  • Make some ‘down time’
  • Schedule some time to reflect on your life and what is working and where you’d like to see improvements
  • Create a daily ‘shutdown’ routine that switches off the stress of the day
  • Drink more water
  • Take a break from the computer screen

Get your free workbook Create Your Perfect Morning Routine . It includes reminders of what to do and worksheets that you can print as often as you need to to keep you moving forward in building daily routines that work for you.

MORNING Routines Workbook cover

Daily Routine That Works – Final Thoughts

There is a lot to consider, and any changes that you want to make, will not happen overnight. You will need patience with the process and with yourself. Your first attempts probably won’t stick. This means that you will need to regularly come back and revisit these steps and keep trying different things. I’ve hear this referred to as ‘throwing spaghetti until you find something that sticks’.

But it is definitely worth it!

Happy Planning x

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