Why Routines Should Be Mandatory

daily routine

People ask me all the time, “What’s the biggest difference between having a boss versus being your own?

Besides a steady paycheck, my response is: a lack of routine.

Parents stress how children need routine and structure to survive (it’s true I have 2 kids under 3 years old). But what works for kids also works for adults.

If you work for a company your routine is taken care of during the day, but if you’re an entrepreneur or even work remotely it’s up to you to set a routine.

I’ve been on my own since 2007 and through much trial and error here’s what works for me:

Morning workouts – I try to exercise 5 times a week in the mornings between 6:30-8:30 AM. I don’t consider myself a morning person, but with 2 kids I don’t have much of a choice. Since I’m up anyway, I force myself to go to the gym regardless of how I feel. It’s become my morning coffee and when I don’t stick to this routine I literally get cranky and feel lethargic.

Task time – I know I do my best work from about 10 AM-2 PM. As much as possible I try to find a quiet place with minimal distractions and accomplish as much as I can. Since I’m a pretty organized person I schedule everything into my phone with alerts so I don’t have to think about what to do next. This uninterrupted time is when I plan my workshops, speeches, marketing, etc. Protect this time, it’s necessary.

People time – Around mid-afternoon I usually hit a wall, so meeting with people, Skype or phone calls are scheduled between 2-5 PM. Conversations energize me, so whatever creative juices I am lacking usually get rejuvenated through interactions. Of course sticking to this schedule isn’t mandatory, but over time you pinpoint what flows best for you and go with it.

Routines promote productivity. Without them distractions will rule your life. I’m a planned person, but don’t consider myself Type A. The nice thing about routines is they can change. Tinker with them to see what works best. What matters most is to have them.

Routines are like boundaries. They determine what is useful and help us decide what to say yes and no to. That’s why they should be mandatory.

The Secret To Unleashing Your Productivity

Distractions

There are plenty of myths surrounding productivity, but most of them are false because they’re centered on being more focused or giving perks. Managers would love to find the magical whip they can use to micromanage workers, but that stuff doesn’t work in the post-industrial days. Productivity is getting in a “flow” similar to when an athlete gets in the “zone.” It’s not as simple as snapping your fingers and you’re there. Instead it’s about controlling your surroundings and tuning out the noise that distracts us in a technologically driven world.

Rationally thinking becoming hyper-focused is the key, but it’s not. It’s like when you’re having a hard time falling asleep, the more you try the worse it gets. Actually when you “turn off your brain” is when you naturally dose off. I found as working as a Millennial Coach, the key lies with removing distractions. This can be as simple as venting to someone else. Imagine entering a room frustrated, then leaving refreshed. Work isn’t even discussed, but you feel ready to conquer the world walking out. Companies such as Zappos and Google are forward-thinking enough to provide the optimal environments to enhance productivity. Back to the analogy of the micromanaging boss, in order to unleash your optimal performance trust must be given freely. It is not without consequences, but a person should be innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around. Leaders empower productivity, they don’t control it.

The next time you’re watching a sporting event, watch how athletes prepare before the game. Most have headphones on and are listening to their favorite music. Why? Besides possibly being sponsored to wear a certain brand, it’s a pre-ritual to help calm their mind and body. The term corporate wellness gets thrown around a lot these days, but essentially its function is to counter the daily stress with an outlet of release or relaxation. Most people wake up, grab coffee and stumble into work wondering why they’re not in the mood to produce at a high level. You may not be able to listen to music by yourself during work, but you can go for a morning workout, eat a healthy breakfast or listen to music that calms or motivates you in the car during your commute.

Lastly, I can’t emphasize how crucial to your success coping is. That means being able to deal with curveballs thrown at you frequently. You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you respond to it. Re-framing situations from negative to positive is merely turning that frown upside down. Your mind has the ability to pause in situations that don’t feel right and choose to focus on something else. For example, if you’re given a new assignment that has a hard deadline soon instead of complaining about it, stop, re-prioritize and drop what you’re currently doing to work on what’s more urgent. A split second is all it takes to catch yourself from going down a hole of despair to re-framing to what’s more positive.

So the next time you’re having a problem getting focused, think about your environment. Experiment with what’s conducive to your optimal performance and tinker with it constantly like a game. There are some factors, like meetings or an annoying co-worker, that you can’t control, but you’d be surprised to know a lot of your performance has to do with what you decide to tune out.

Scott Asai is a speaker/coach that has been developing leaders for 20+ years – athletes, companies and individuals. His focus is helping people develop leadership skills to advance in their careers. Scott tends to attract a large audience of Millennials and Introverts to his programs/events. His professional background consists of: B.A. in Psychology, M.A. in Organizational Leadership, Certified Professional Coach and Certified Strengths Coach.