I love routines.
The reason I love them is that they are one of the most effective ways to ensure I stay on task.
Routines are very similar to the systems we discussed for collaborative processes.
The difference is that these are systems for yourself – you have the freedom to configure these however you like, without needing to get anyone else's buy-in.
Steve Jobs famously wore the same shirt every day so that he didn't have to think about what shirt to wear.
This is the same idea.
The goal is to organize your day in a way that you don't have to think about what happens next. It's like switching on autopilot and letting the computer take over.
And when it comes to routines, we're not just talking about your workday.
I have a routine for literally every hour of my day, from the minute I wake up to the minute my head touches my pillow. Every moment of the day that happens with regularity, or activities I know will take a meaningful amount of time to complete, I've established a refined, repeatable process to ensure those go smoothly.
Now I'm extreme, but I can attest to the fact that the more automated your day is, the more you can get done. Tasks that used to bog you down and put a wrench in your productivity become well-oiled processes that get completed efficiently without a second thought.
And order matters too.
In my experience, it's best to put the "must do" activities at the start of the day, before the unpredictable variables of life start to creep in.
For me, that's my workout and writing content.
And what's great about that is it sets me up for success.
No matter what else happens that day, I know that I'll have completed those two tasks and the rest is gravy.
Now, creative types can sometimes balk at routine because they view it as constrictive, but the reality is that even they benefit from structure.
It takes their mind off of mundane processes so they can focus on what they do best, which is being creative.
If you don't have much of a routine, a great place to start is to identify the most repetitive aspects of your day. That could be preparing meals, shopping for groceries, or getting ready for bed.
Then isolate those activities and figure out the most efficient way you can complete them.
If they're important activities that often get overlooked, figure out what period of your day is most in your control, and complete those activities during that period – for some of us, that's the early morning, for others, that could be late at night, or even during a lunch break.
The key here is to think strategically about your entire day, determine what aspects of your day are the highest priority, and develop a system to ensure those priorities are addressed without you having to think consciously about it.