Did you do the same thing this morning that you did yesterday morning when you first woke up? Maybe you made a dash to the bathroom, brushed your teeth, or checked Facebook. Maybe you leaned over to kiss your sweetie, checked your emails, or stretched. Likely, you have weaved routines throughout your day and did not even realize it. After all, routines are just habits layered on top of each other.
We all have routines that we love and live by but as soon as there is a disruption in our schedule, whether it be travel or a glitch in our personal lives, we tend to throw our routines out the window. That is the worst thing you can do during times of stress or change! You should actually cling to your routines instead. They are like an anchor grounding your boat to the ocean floor so it doesn’t get pulled out to sea during the tumultuous storm. Routines provide much needed stability, especially when other parts of your life seem to be going awry. Even when unexpected events occur during the middle of the day and throw all of your plans off course, stick to the routines you’ve created for the beginning and end of your day. Those bookends to your day are incredibly important because they keep your actions aligned with your goals, even when the occasional storm rocks your boat.
Types of Routines to Bookend Your Day
The method I highly suggest for bookending your day requires that you complete four different routines – two in the morning, one personal and one business-oriented, and two in the evening, one business-oriented and one personal.
Personal Morning Routine
Fill your personal morning routine with good habits that will equip you with multiple small wins right away. Take the time to invest in yourself from the minute you wake up. Brush your teeth. Take a shower. Eat a healthy and energizing breakfast. Leave for work on time. When you don’t take care of yourself, your work and other areas of your life inevitably suffer. Set yourself up for a productive and successful day by starting it off with good habits that center around self-care.
The best resource I have found on establishing a great personal morning routine that will work for you is the book The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. It is based around the framework Hal calls S.A.V.E.R.S.
S – Silence
A – Affirmations
V – Visualization
E – Exercise
R – Reading
S – Scribing / Writing
S.A.V.E.R.S. establishes a framework in which you can customize a routine to best serve your individual needs. Following a personal morning routine helps you to focus on achieving your personal goals such as having a positive mindset, exercising your body, reading to expand your mind, or writing a book. The Miracle Morning exemplifies the idea that investing small, consistent amounts of time into yourself will create the results you desire in your life. Read it!
Slow and steady wins the race. Most anyone can write a book or run a marathon if she consistently puts time each and every morning into writing a few pages or training. If the same woman were to attempt writing her entire book in one sitting or running a marathon without training, however, she would more than likely fail. The work necessary to produce the book or run the marathon must be done in small increments over time. The work cannot be forced and it cannot be sporadic or she would face inconsistencies in the content or lack required endurance. Making important activities part of your morning personal routine keeps you on task and headed in the right direction toward your goals. Getting started on the task each morning should become just as second nature as brushing your teeth or taking a shower. Regardless of intention, daily habits breed outcomes. Make sure they’re positive results.
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Business Morning Routine
You already have some sort of business morning routine established whether you recognize it or not. What do you typically do when you first arrive at your office? Do you check in with your assistant? Process emails? Browse social media? After all, your friends may have conquered the world in the last hour since you checked Facebook upon waking, right? Do you dive right into your highest value activity? Identify the habits that make up your morning business routine then make tweaks based upon your goals. Aim for being the most productive. That may mean making calls or reviewing current projects first thing and leaving social media browsing for your first schedule break. You may find that some of the habits you have built into your morning business routine may best be interchanged with habits you do in the evening when you have more or less energy depending on your own ultradian rhythms. Whatever habits you decide to continue engaging in as part of your morning business routine, make sure they are ones that build the foundation for a productive, efficient, and organized day.
Business Evening Routine
No matter what habits you currently engage in as part of your business evening routine, I highly recommend including a daily review. Completing a daily review each evening before leaving the office while facts are still fresh in your mind will ensure you come in the next day with a plan of attack. The 5 Daily Planning Pavers can guide you through undertaking a well-planned daily review. The system includes such actionables as reviewing your current day’s calendar and tasks, previewing your following day’s calendar and tasks, and making adjustments as called for. Make a daily review a consistent habit as part of your business evening routine and you’ll be setting yourself up to conquer each following day.
Other rewarding habits I suggest adding to your business evening routine include processing your emails one final time for the day and clearing off your desk. Especially for those of you struggling with organization and clutter, spending just five or ten minutes clearing your desk will enable you to come in the next morning with a clean slate, fresh and focused on what you want to work on instead of the overwhelming piles of paper and office supplies overtaking your desk.
Personal Evening Routine
Just as you have a personal morning routine, you have a personal evening routine in which you engage in particular habits day after day, either consciously or not. Identify the habits within that routine then analyze what is and what is not working for you. You might watch a recorded show, brush your teeth, walk your dog, or read. All of those activities are habits, possibly good, possibly bad. Recently I had a conversation about the habit of spending quality time with your significant other. A woman told me she uses the hour after she puts her baby down to make a purposeful connection with her husband every single night. She built that habit into her personal evening routine based on her long-term goal of having a lasting and loving marriage. Nurturing that relationship had to be part of the plan to make it successful so she made =the habit as part of her evening routine.
Creating the middle of your day to have minimal structure in terms of routines provides much needed wiggle room for accommodating life’s daily surprises. Simply bookending your day with structured morning and evening routines is the perfect compromise to a fully planned out day and can help you stay on the path to success. Make sure the habits you engage in during those routines align with your goals instead of work against them. Work backwards from your bigger vision to determine what you need to do on a daily basis to ensure you’ll achieve that ultimate goal. Start designing morning and evening routines as a blueprint for your days and you’ll be well on your way to becoming the architect of your bright future.