We humans are creatures of habit. In fact, one article in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine found that those who followed an established daily routine were consistently more likely to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and students who followed a daily routine had higher levels of academic success. But how exactly do you create a daily routine? And what should be included?
A daily routine can help you create laser sharp focus and remove the burden of decision making in the day to day. The key isn’t to regiment your life – it’s to simply create regular and consistent daily patterns that will allow you to work towards your goals.
In this article, we address these questions and provide a step-by-step guide to help you create a daily routine that will help you succeed in 2021. It’s important to remember that what works for someone else might not work for you, so build your own routine around our guidelines according to your own needs, and if you find one thing isn’t working for you, then switch it up and try something else.
How to Create a Daily Routine
A daily routine should not be a To Do list, rather a framework that helps you get things done. We prefer a time blocking method, which allows for flexibility in your tasks whilst still working within a structured day. Before you start, take a weekly calendar and some coloured pens, then follow these 4 easy steps to plan out your daily routine. If you prefer, you can also plan your calendar online using our free Reset Hub Time Blocking Template.
Step 1: Work out how you’re spending your time
Before you start creating your routine, take the time to write out everything that you do in a day, including eating, sleeping and rest time, then add in any new habits that you’d like to form, such as going to the gym or eating well. This will ensure that absolutely everything can be included no matter how trivial, which will help you adhere to the routine over time.
Step 2: Categorise your tasks
Once you have a list of absolutely everything that you do, you now need to categorise them. For example, getting ready for bed and sleeping can come under the category of night time routine, helping kids with homework could come under kid stuff, checking emails might come under light work and watching TV could come under me time.
Step 3: Block in anything with a fixed time
Now it’s time to start working on the calendar. Mark in anything with a time that can’t be changed, such as driving kids to school, regularly scheduled work meetings or workout classes. Don’t forget to include travel time!
Step 4: Add in your category blocks
Now you can slot in the rest of your categories until the calendar is completely filled. Be reasonable and generous with your allocated times, eg. don’t give yourself 30 minutes for dinner prep when it often takes an hour.
Step 5: Review and refine
Your daily routine is not stuck in stone, so it’s important to review regularly until you find something that you can truly stick to. We recommend printing a few copies of the weekly calendar so that you can review it regularly and update as needed.
The Importance of Environment
One of the biggest challenges in lifestyle medicine is getting patients to adhere to lifestyle changes. A 2018 study published by the British Psychological Society found that there is seemingly no correlation between a patients current lifestyle and past habits and their ability to adhere to a medication schedule. However, those who modified their environment to enforce the new schedule were far more likely to maintain the medication routine in the long term.
Looking at your own daily To Do list, think about how you could modify the environment to make the desired tasks easier. For example, if your routine involves going to the gym in the morning, think about laying out your exercise gear every night before you go to bed. If you find it difficult to include healthy eating in your daily routine, you may like to try time blocking a few hours for meal planning, shopping and meal prep on a Sunday.
With the proliferation of home office and home schooling in 2020, many people have found that their home life and work life have become inextricably intertwined. One of the hardest things about sticking to a new routine is avoiding distraction, whether that be from family, colleagues, technology, or something else. Fortunately, there are plenty of simple techniques to help you focus on your daily routine that take only a few minutes to set up.To increase your chance of sticking to your routine, we recommend:
- Telling the people around you about the changes that you are making, and being explicit about why you are doing so. When your family and colleagues understand your goals, they will be more likely to help you achieve them.
- If you have children at home, you may want to set clear times when it is ok to be interrupted, and when you need to be in work mode. For younger children, a traffic light system on the door often works wonders:
- red light = do not open. This could be used when you need deep thought or are in meetings.
- orange light = come in but no chatting with the parent who is working. This is appropriate for when you are working, but do not require a high level of concentration. It’s a great idea to have a desk set up with quiet activity for the child to focus on, whilst still feeling like you are present.
- green light = you are welcome to come in and chat. This can be used when you are doing light admin, such as emails and organising.
- If you find yourself being distracted by your phone, you may want to practice turning it to airplane mode whilst you complete your daily tasks. In fact, Tim Ferriss, author of The Four Hour Work Week, keeps his phone on airplane mode 80% of the time so that he can control when he responds to messages and engages with other people, rather than others controlling his time.
- If airplane mode doesn’t work for you as you need to be available for certain people, you may want to install an app like Forest to help keep on track. Forest lets you plant a tree that grows until you pick up your device. The visual reminder can be very helpful, and you can even create a personal challenge to grow the tree to a certain size before you’re allowed to touch your device.
At The Reset Hub, we find that daily routines help us work toward our goals and minimise distractions. We also help our clients create healthy routines that increase clarity, energy and connection, as part of our Reset Program and coaching services. If you are looking to work with someone to create routines that help you meet your goals, please check out the links above or contact us for further info.