Leadership expert John Maxwell says, “You'll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”
Your daily routine is as important as clarity of vision and plans
Your future depends on what you do today. Your daily actions are creating your future, for better or worse.
Granted, clear vision and a strong strategic plan are important. However, no vision will be fulfilled, or strategic plan implemented by a person without an effective daily routine. The big visionary programs of leaders can become gridlocked by the everyday demands of a busy organisation.
The sooner you can find a daily routine that works for you, the sooner your business or career will start to gain momentum towards your goals.
You already have a daily routine
When I start working with clients, I like to take a snapshot of their diary to see how they spent their days over the past two weeks. When we take a close look, they usually tell me either:
- This has not been a typical two weeks, or
- I do not have a daily routine because every day is so different.
I strongly disagree. We humans tend to have strategies for everything we do. Our brains are wired to find the easiest repeatable way to do things and we are rarely as random as we feel.
We form habits to lessen the thinking load each day. For example, we develop routines around how we dress, perform our toileting, travel to work and consume food, and when we like to have a coffee, and so on.
We also have routines around how we organise our day. Some routines have been developed consciously, after careful thought; others are just the way we have always done things. Some of these patterns work well for us and some don’t. Some used to work when our role was simpler.
It is an enlightening exercise to conduct a health check of your daily routine to make sure it is serving you.
‘Focus time’ is the purpose of a daily routine
The most important reason to work on your daily routine is to carve out a block of time each day to work on the important things; those things you must do to move towards your goals. I call this block of time ‘focus time’.
Ideally, this will be a two-hour block of time when you have the most energy. For most people, this is first thing in the morning. A few of my clients, however, have found that late afternoon is good for them when their work demands settle a little.
This works, if you are the type of person who still has energy and mind capacity later in the day, and it is up to you to find out what is best for your situation. It is great to have a strategic plan, but you need time each day to work on that plan. Many busy people unnecessarily sacrifice their evenings and weekends to have their ‘focus time’.
The 7 elements of an effective daily routine
Establish waking up and going to bed routines
Your daily routine starts the night before. If you go to bed late and wake up tired every day, you are limited before you start. A routine that helps you have a motivated start to your day sets you up for success.
Establish starting and finishing work routines
For example, take 10 minutes to plan your day either last thing or first thing, do a five-minute slow walk around your team to start the day.
Factor in family routines
Such as school drop-offs.
Organise your time in blocks in your calendar
For admin, meetings, staff training, and so on.
Allocate your best possible time each day as ‘focus time’
This is a two-hour block during which you turn off all electronic and people interruptions, and get important work done.
Leave margins in your schedule
So you can breathe and process, and be prepared for the unexpected.
Squeeze low-value tasks
Emails and returning calls, for example, are best done in short blocks. This prevents other people’s agendas wasting your time.
The most productive people are those who manage to carve out consistent time to work on their most important goals. If you do not work on maximising your daily routine so you can carve out that time at least three days per week, you’ll be less productive or always frustrated that you have to take time away from your family to get your important work done.
Creating a productive daily routine could very well be the secret of your success.