The one constant in life is ‘change,’ right? As we work to improve our lives, we will likely find that we have habits or routines that hold us back from our goals. Here’s how to change your daily routine to increase your productivity so you can make the most of your goal-setting for more intentional living!
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I’m a very routine-oriented person. Even though I knew that about myself, this past year has opened my eyes to just HOW routine-oriented I am… And, apparently, so are many other people I’ve talked to.
In March of 2020, things changed practically overnight, and I suddenly couldn’t finish the things I was used to doing on a daily basis. My productivity was at a standstill, and I realized just how much I missed the routines I had worked so hard to put into place.
I’ve worked from home for years, so it seemed like the whole shift so many others were experiencing shouldn’t have affected me so badly. But it did. My younger son was home and trying to do virtual learning for the final two months of his senior year. My older son had just started a new job, but suddenly found himself at home. My husband was now at home every single day.
So just because being at home every day wasn’t new to me, it didn’t mean there weren’t major upheavals in household routines and attitudes.
Without my long-established daily routine, I had a hard time even remembering tasks that normally weren’t a problem to accomplish! That’s when I realized that I needed to be able to adjust my daily routines for changing times so that I could feel like a productive person again.
I needed to become more adaptable — not easy for a creature of habit like me! It takes me a long time to adapt to changes, which is exactly why this post wasn’t published until now. But hopefully these tips will help you if you’re struggling with your current routine — or lack of one!
How Habits Drive Daily Routines
Our habits drive all of our daily routines. We do things like brush our teeth, feed the dog, or put our shoes away often without thinking about it. Those are habits.
We can develop good habits such as putting something away after we use it by consciously repeating the same healthy action again and again.
Likewise, we can develop poor habits such as not throwing away our trash by repeating less-than-desirable behaviors over and over again.
Once behaviors become almost automatic, they’re officially called habits. You can modify habits with effort and time. However habits have some stamina and sometimes you will find old habits resurfacing when you least expect them (such as when you’re super tired or stressed).
All of us have both good and bad habits — those habits and routines that increase our productivity as well as those that hinder it. The goal is to recognize our bad habits and routines and change them in order to improve them and our lives.
So whether you’re looking to change your daily routine because you’re in a rut and seeking simplicity or out of need due to things outside of your control, here are some helpful ways to change your routine and change your life for the better.
How to Change Your Daily Routine
At this point, I’m willing to bet that at least part of you is sitting there thinking ‘how can I change my daily routine?’ #amiright
I get it! It’s a completely understandable question to pose when potentially facing a task that can feel daunting. Let me put it this way: when you change your routine, you change your life. In other words, it’s totally worth the effort to make improvements in your daily routine because it will make your life better.
And here’s something that could help in the here and now… If you’re completely out of sorts and truly not getting ANYTHING done, then for a while, you may have to strip your routine right down to the basics.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! It simply means you’re giving yourself permission to take things off your plate and concentrate on taking care of basic needs for yourself and your family.
Once you have the basics under control — probably sooner than you think (maybe only a couple of weeks?) — you’ll be ready to add more productivity habits into your day.
Use these tips to help you recognize routines that can be optimized and how to implement habits to make positive changes in your life.
1. Get Real
Envision your perfectly productive daily routine — but be realistic. Your ‘perfect day’ must account for your current circumstances and capacity.
For example, I have realized that even though many things are ‘back to normal’ in my daily life, I’m still stressed, which means my thinking and DOING capacity is definitely compromised. I have to work within those bounds. If you’re like most of us, you’re likely dealing with similar emotions and hurdles.
So keep it simple. Set your priority every single day — ask yourself what ONE thing you must accomplish even if nothing else gets done. Write that task on a sticky note and keep it in view until you’ve completed the task — instead of a massive to-do list that depresses you every time you catch sight of it.
You also need to keep in mind that most things will probably take longer than you expect, which is another reason to keep your expectations and goals on the lower side while your implementing changes.
But speaking of that to-do list, you should definitely take a few minutes every evening or morning to do some planning. Write it down! Because believe me, NOT having to keep all that stuff in your head really helps! Just don’t dwell on the full list all day long.
2. Read Books About Forming Good Habits
Reading books written by someone who has gone before you and learned how to do exactly what you’re wanting to do is inspiring, motivating, and encouraging. If you find it easier to listen to the audiobook version, download it and listen to it while you do other activities.
Here are some recommendations:
- Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
- The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
- Making Good Habits, Breaking Bad Habits: 14 New Behaviors That Will Energize Your Life by Joyce Meyer (this one has a spiritual focus if that’s your thing)
3. Take Small Steps
I think most people DON’T do well with major changes or going ‘cold turkey.’ If you do better with that, good for you! However, if too much change at once completely throws you off, it’s okay to make small changes over time.
In fact, small little swaps in your routine can help you make those changes into habits faster than it will take you to adapt to large sweeping changes. Here are some ideas:
- Wake up 5 minutes earlier to go over your schedule for the day, prioritize tasks, and set goals
- Instead of listening to music on your commute, listen to a motivating podcast or audiobook
4. Schedule in Self-Care
It might sound like an oxymoron, but in order to be more productive, you actually need to take better care of yourself. Do you find a soaking bath relaxing and rejuvenating? Schedule it into your day (or week)!
Start by identifying which activities will benefit you physically and mentally, and then also list which are the most fun and relaxing for you. Then take your daily planner page and schedule them into your day.
Remember, exercise is an important part of self-care. It not only does a body good, but it does a mind good too. Getting your blood moving during the day helps improve focus and mental clarity, which will help you be more productive! You could hit the gym or just as easily take a walk at lunch.
Practicing daily self care — even if it’s only for 15 minutes a day — will help you feel your best. And that, in turn, will help you be more productive.
5. Complete Your Least Favorite Tasks First
We all have activities we dread. One of mine is unloading the dishwasher. I can’t explain it, but it’s just not my jam.
Whatever that dreaded job is for you, get it out of the way by tackling it first. Write it on your list so you can feel the satisfaction of crossing it off, even if it’s only a 5-minute task.
You’ll have more energy by doing it early in the day. It’ll also make the rest of the day seem easier once that job is out of the way!
Imagine if all it took to power up your productivity every day was taking 5 minutes to unload a dishwasher, fold a load of laundry, or answer one email. 😉
6. Reduce Your Screen Time
We tend to spend a LOT of time on screens these days, and some of it even feels productive. But after hours on a screen, your brain starts turning to mush. Unfortunately, depending on your job, you may not have the luxury of simply turning off the screen.
Wondering how to change your daily routine when it comes to screen time? Try to condense your time on a screen into ‘power tasks’ where you focus intensely for 25-30 minutes and then take a break.
I recommend taking more frequent ‘brain breaks’ by scheduling them into your daily routine to help your brain stay fresh. You’ll be amazed at how much that can help increase your productivity!
7. Spend 10 Minutes Tidying Up
A messy house creates stress which causes you to be distracted, lose focus, and not function at your peak performance. When our homes and lives are free from clutter, we perform at a higher, more productive level mentally and physically.
Clutter also causes you to spend more time looking for the things that you need. Spending 10 minutes picking up may sound impossible now, but give it a try and you’ll find the time you save more than makes up for the time you spend picking up clutter!
How to Change Your Daily Routine Final Thoughts
With this list of things you can change in your daily routine, you can take the necessary steps to Build Your Best Life.
It doesn’t always require tons of time or work, but instead just a willingness and effort to be more mindful about how you spend your time.
You’ve got this!
Don’t forget to grab your daily planner page to help keep you on track with your new routine…
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