How to Create A Productive Routine That Works For You
I tried the 5 am thing back in University — it worked for a little bit, but didn’t last for long. At some point, life moved on, fast forward more than half a decade later and I ended up with a toddler.
There’s a lot of content floating around talking about the benefits of waking up at 5am. However, they are often targetted at young or childless people. When you have young children that hasn’t figured out how to sleep through the night yet, a developing sleep schedule means that you won’t always get a solid 8 hours of sleep each night.
When you don’t sleep enough, your brain relies on caffeine to function.
When your brain relies on an external substance, it can become a downward spiral — especially if you start throwing 5am wake ups into the mix.
What many people don’t realize is that your productivity is not exclusively linked to how early you wake up.
Rather, it’s linked to how disciplined you are towards conducting your day.
It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action, and discipline that enabled us to follow through.
There are a lot of morning routines out there but the perfect morning routine is one that fits with your current life circumstances and what you aspire to be.
The purpose of a productive morning routine is to get you from point A to point B as seamlessly as possible — with little side distractions and in a way that lets you complete the tasks you need to complete.
It can be based on quantity. It can be based on quality. Whatever the task is, there is a clear and definite path towards its completion.
And it takes discipline to work on completing these tasks.
If you think about it, it doesn’t matter what time you wake up — as long as you do and move forward in your day intentionally.
There are time sinks everywhere we turn, and it it these time sinks that contributes to the lack of productive output achieved.
When you are disciplined towards completing your tasks, you add a little bit more productive output towards your total productivity.
This is where routine comes in.
The thing with routines is that it is a predetermined set of tasks set in a particular order within a certain timeframe. For some people, it may look something like this:
- wake up
- personal hygiene
- yoga / exercise
- journalling / meditation
- first bit of work
- second bit of work
- morning tea
etc. etc. etc.
You can still have this routine but shifted if you’re not an early bird kind of person. However, for me, this routine will never work in my current situation.
Because there’s another miniature human also awake before dawn. She used to wake up at 6am — but now gets up at 5am, thanks to daylight savings.
In order for me to have a productive routine that works for me, I needed to shift the way I do things to work around the current circumstances that life has placed on me.
What’s the point of waking up early? Is it to gain more time in the day? Or is it to feel like you’ve accomplished something significant before everyone else?
If your purpose is to gain more time in the day, where are all the others going?
When you have discipline, you will always have the time to do the things you need. It doesn’t matter if the equivalent of your morning work routine is shifted over to night time — simply because it works better.
When you shift your mindset to one that’s based on discipline rather than the time you wake up, you shift your productivity level based on consistent output rather than the time you get out of bed.
A productive day is based on your ability to consistently do things, over and over again — which includes your waking and sleeping schedules.
Winners embrace hard work. They love the discipline of it, the trade-off they’re making to win. Losers, on the other hand, see it as punishment. And that’s the difference.
So how do you create a productive morning routine?
The trick is not to think about it as a morning routine.
Rather, think about it as the day’s routine.
There are certain forces of nature that may not allow you to conform to the typical process flow. But if you look at your entire day as a whole, rather than a segment of a whole, you can figure out where your time blocks are and how to best utilize them.
Here’s a short guide on how to set up your day for success and how to create a productive morning routine that works for you.
Figure out what you want to achieve
This is the most important step.
You can’t have a proper routine that contributes to your sense of growth and movement forward if you don’t know what it is you want.
List out all the things you want to achieve. Is it to write more? Is it to become healthier? Is it to learn a new skill?
Whatever it is, you need to know exactly what you want.
You might have a long list. You might end up with a few small but definite things. Whatever they are, pick two and only two.
Because you’ll move forward faster than trying to spread yourself too thinly over a multitude of things.
Having focus is key to achieving true productivity.
List out the compulsory things you have to do daily
There are things in life you can’t avoid like your day job, your children and chores.
List them all out.
Figure out how much time and when these compulsory things happen. For some things — like chores — they are flexible and can be moved around. Other things like work and your children’s schedules — may not be as kind.
Be clear on what you can move and what you can’t.
Scheduling your day
Now that you have all the parts of your entire day laid out in front of you, go ahead and slot them in the timeframe that best suits you.
Look at what can be improved and make adjustments to it.
Your task now is to stick to this schedule as much as possible, making adjustments to it if you find yourself unable to stick to it.
When you fail to stick to a particular schedule, it’s because you’ve been over-ambitious with the number of tasks you can fit in a day.
The purpose of a productive routine is not to overload yourself. The purpose of a productive routine is to create a structure for you to be disciplined against.
The image of productivity is often accompanied by early mornings and big mugs of coffee.
But in reality, this is not the case.
Real productivity is to do with your ability to consistently execute a certain number of tasks on an extended daily basis.
And to do this, you need a solid routine.
So figure out what you want your routine to look like, be honest with its achievability and aim hard at completing each task as many times as you can over an extended period of time.
You’ll soon be able to reach your goals and achieve your dreams in no time at all.