We all want to have a productive day or days right? There’s so much to do, then there’s a huge motivation and the rush of optimism as we imagine our day, the outcome of our goals.
And then we become overwhelmed and feel like there’s too little time to get all these things done, so we begin to push things off for the later.
Having and sticking to a daily routine removes the overwhelm, our constant need for motivation to get things done, eliminates decision fatigue and leads to a productive day and life.
Having a great daily routine and a positive mindset to carry you through the day is so important if you want to have a productive day and generally become successful.
Before I created and began sticking to my daily routine, I used to feel completely overwhelmed by the number of things I needed to get done in a day, and most times would end up not doing anything at all.
Do you have a daily routine? How do you begin or end your day to ensure you have a productive day (next day)? In this post, I’m going to talk about my daily routine to inspire you and give you an idea of what to include in yours to guarantee a productive day. This is written in no particular order.
Daily Routine Habits That Helps Me Have A Productive Day
1. Plan Your Day The Night Before.
Most self-help books and personal development experts advice that we start our day the night before. I have experimented with this myself and found it to be really helpful and highly productive. This a major part of my evening routine.
And it usually includes activities like:
- Create a to-do list for the next day,
- Choose what clothing you intend wearing the next day (if you didn’t already do this on Sunday)
- Arrange everything you need to go out with in your bag,
- Plan your breakfast or meals for the next day,
Generally, this involves taking care of every little (mundane) task which you’d normally do in the morning before going to work the night before (as part of your evening routine). This will help make time to do the important stuff. reduce decision fatigue, and live you feeling highly productive in the morning.
You will find that major activities in your evening routine should be focused on getting ready for the next day.
2. Go To Bed Early- Get Up Early:
Going to bed early or getting up to at least 6 hours of sleep (6, because in my case 8 hours is nearly impossible- except I’m sick) is really a huge struggle for me. Maybe I need sleep therapy. But nevertheless, it is recommended that we go to bed early and have enough sleep to wake early and feeling rested.
This for me is one of the most difficult items on my daily (morning and evening) routine. But, since sleep is important, and going to bed early has been beneficial to me in many ways I try to force myself to do it. Even if that means:
- not taking coffee,
- putting the lights off in my room (sleeping without light is a big deal for me)
- taking a cool shower just before my bedtime( I don’t like cold water, so getting myself to bath cold water is a classic way of making me sleep all night)
- or working out in the evening and them swimming afterwards
- taking sleeping meds (I don’t like drugs, and I’d do anything and everything else just to avoid taking them)
If you are like me, decide that you’d do whatever it takes to go to bed early.
Go to bed early. Wake up early.
By getting up early, whether that’s an hour or 3 hours earlier compared to your usual time, you have more hours of the day to use to your advantage to have a productive day. These few extra hours you’re awake are so crucial and can add up big time over a period of time.
But sometimes it’s a serious struggle to wake up on the first alarm instead of just thinking ‘5 more minutes’, hitting snooze and rolling back over into your warm, cosy bed. I have definitely been there.
It is possible to train yourself to get up when you want to get up. Here are some things that have helped me:
- Setting only 1 alarm. I used to be a serial alarm-setter. If I wanted to wake up by 4 am, I will have an alarm for 3.30am, 4.am, 4.30 am, 5.00am, 5.30am etc. So if I didn’t wake up at 4, then I still had the others to wake me up. Then I met a friend who helped me realise that I will actually get better quality sleep (and more of it) if I just set one alarm and wake up when it goes off. I think it works best because you know there’s no backup coming.
- Putting my alarm clock/phone on the other side of the room. I used to do this because having to physically get up to turn off my alarm can be the difference between hitting snooze and starting the morning the way I’d like (I don’t do this any more though because now I almost always get up on the first alarm or even awake before the alarm goes off).
If you’re using your phone as an alarm, change the name of the alarm so it’s something that will motivate you to get out of bed (sometimes I just put a lot of emojis in there).
- Again, go to bed early. This will help you feel fully rested by the time you wake up.
3. Wash your face
This is one of my most recent activity for a morning routine that has become a habit and a favourite because it always does such a good job of waking me up!
I’m not a morning person, so waking up early (after staying up late) and feeling awake is a whole lot of work for me. I recently discovered that washing my face (or even just splash it with a little water) wakes me up well and makes me feel less tired and groggy and blahhh.
So I highly recommend it, especially if you struggle to wake yourself up!
I also love this one because it gives you an easy win straight away.
If you start your morning routine with something hard (that you might be worried you’re ‘too tired’ to do properly) it’s more likely you’ll make an excuse to skip your morning routine altogether.
But if you choose something like washing your face or making your bed to start off your morning routine, it’s easy to build momentum.
4. Open the blinds & make the bed
Making my bed and open the blinds (I love dark rooms in the daytime, so my blinds are mostly always down) as soon as I wake up is a habit I’m learning lately. I like it because it is a quick win and allows my perfectionist mindset feel like I have accomplished something already and like the other easy ones, it builds momentum… This is just a way to create another obstacle to me crawling back into bed (it’s definitely harder to go back to sleep after you’ve made the bed).
There may have been one or two times I’ve gone back to sleep on top of the made bed… but generally, this works well for me.
5. Drink a glass of water or lemon water as soon as you wake up
This is a great one to add to your morning routine if you struggle to drink enough water throughout the day.
I do this every day. Even though I’ve only been doing it for three months, I love how it makes my body feels and how different and better my skin now looks. Apart from its health benefits, it is also an easy straight win.
It’s quick, easy and will help you feel more wake up too (which is always a good thing).
To make this one even easier, leave a glass or bottle of water on your bedside table at night so you can drink it as soon as you wake up!
6. Spend Time With God
If you are not a Christian, or this isn’t your kind of thing you can skip this one. But for me, one of my goals this year was to make a habit of spending time with God daily. I may not be very consistent, but this one always kind of set the day going for me. During this time I could:
- pray or
- study or
- dance to some music
- write letters to God (depending on my mood) or
- listen to a sermon or
- journal or just anything that comes to me at the time.
There is no rule around these things and it doesn’t have to be boring. Find out what works with you at any given time.
Working out is an amazing way to start the day, but there are so many different types of workouts you can do that it can easily get overwhelming! The good news is that almost any kind of workout will get you results if you do it consistently, so choose a workout that’s fairly easy to do on a regular basis (in terms of location, equipment and time required) and you enjoy doing – at least somewhat!
If you’re new to working out, I recommend choosing just one of the following:
- going for a walk/run
- joining a fitness group or a gym,
- following along with a fitness Youtube channel or
- investing in a guide that will give you specific workouts.
8. The 5 Minute Journal
By the time I get to this activity, I’m fully awake so it’s ok to start doing things that involve sitting down.
Basically, The 5 Minute Journal is an actual journal you can use, but I just write out the prompts in my pretty Erin Condren Life Planner
Here are the prompts:
- I am grateful… (3 things)
- What would make today great? (3 things)
- I am… (2 things)
- 3 amazing things that happened today…
- What would have made today better?
As the name suggests, it takes only a few minutes to do this but it’s a great tool to help you spend your time the way you’d like to. Plus you will like your life SO much more if you practice being grateful for things on a regular basis (it is so easy to lose the big picture after all).
9. Read 10 pages of a book
I got this idea from – The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. If you want to read more but ‘can’t find the time’ then this is a perfect thing to do first up in the morning.
I love this because 10 pages are hardly anything, so it’s not intimidating (like me, you might have that thing where if you can’t do something perfectly you don’t do it at all – this kind of habit is perfect for people like us).
Plus if you read 10 pages a day, you’ll finish reading an average size book every month. At the moment I’m reading HBR’S 10 Must Read: On Decision Making
If you’re not sure what to include in your daily routine – put this one in!
I LOVE the meditation app Headspace I found that if I don’t do this first thing I find it really hard to do it – so I worked it into my morning routine.
I love this app because it directly addresses all of the misconceptions I had about meditation (mainly it is some “psyche” thingy and that you have to be able to not think, which really isn’t what it’s about at all). I’ve finished the 30-day intro series and I’m now doing the 30 day series on improving focus. Once you’re past the intro series you can choose the length of your meditation (10, 15 or 20 minutes) so I’m doing 15-minute meditations at the moment.
Of course, you don’t have to use the Headspace app, but if you’re just starting I highly recommend it!
11. Learning Something New.
If there’s something you’ve been wanting to learn, like a new language, photography, video editing, bullet journaling, baking, web programming, painting business and professional skills or something else, carving out even just 15 or 20 minutes in the morning can make a huge difference You can choose to watch a Ted Talk, listen to a Podcast or sign up for online courses in your area of interest.
Apart from the fact that you get to learn something new, watching Ted Talks or listening to Podcast can fuel your motivation for the day and inspire you to action.
12. Handwrite an Affirmation
I don’t love the word ‘affirmation’ (it feels a little too woo-woo for me) but that’s what you could call what I’m suggesting:
- Set a stretch goal
- Create a statement affirming that you will achieve your stretch goal
- Handwrite that statement 15 times every morning
When you write down a goal 15 times per day, in language that makes it sound absolutely certain you will achieve that goal, you genuinely start to believe you will achieve it.
And when you genuinely believe something will happen, your brain looks for ways to make it happen.
And then it does happen. If you need a scientific explanation to convince you this works, it’s called reticular activation. Read these articles by Van Schneider and Dean Bokhari to get a better understanding of the reticular activation system.
Basically, by writing your affirmation over and over again you’re training your brain to focus on your goal and how to achieve it. This then opens your eyes to opportunities and possibilities you would not have otherwise seen.
Affirmations aren’t magic, they just create incredible (and unbelievable) results because the brain has been conditioned to focus on finding a way to reach a goal.
I started handwriting an affirmation 15 times per day after learning about everything I’ve told you above in the book Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss.
When I first started writing out my goal, I felt like an idiot (which is a great indication you’ve set yourself a real stretch goal by the way).
If you’re willing to try this out for yourself (trust me, you’ll only feel silly for a few days at the most) here are my recommendations:
- Play around with the wording until it sits well with you – write it out a few times and just see what works.
- Start your statement with ‘I will…’ (not ‘I will try’ or ‘I hope’)
- While the wording needs to feel good, make sure your statement doesn’t feel
believable – it needs to be a stretch goal which means it should make you at least a
- Add something like ‘or sooner’ or ‘or better’ to the end of your statement.
- Handwrite it 15 times every day (this should take less than 10 minutes)
Say an affirmation.
If you don’t want to write out an affirmation, another alternative is to say them. You can create your own affirmation by using the process I talked about above.
13. Do a visualisation
Visualising is another incredible thing you can do to help you achieve your goals!
Here’s a great step-by-step explanation from the Female Entrepreneur Association about how to visualise:
- Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths in and relax your body.
- Start to create a movie in your mind and see yourself achieving what you want. Make the picture big, bright and bold.
- Once you can see it clearly, put yourself in the movie – like you’re replaying a memory. What can you see? How do you feel? What can you hear?
- Really feel the emotions – when I visualised winning a grant award for my business, I pictured reading the national daily where the awardees will be listed and then when I saw my name, I felt a rush of emotions, like it was happening live.
When I actually won the award I felt the exact same feelings as if I’d already won it a thousand times before.
- When you’ve finished visualising say to yourself, “It’s a done deal” – you’ve got to believe with conviction that you can make it happen. If you feel some doubts lingering in your mind just release them – let them go. You can do this by saying, “I release all my doubts and trust that I will make it happen.”
14. Brush Teeth, Bath, Get dressed and Do my makeup:
Again, this seems obvious but it’s so important.
I’m sure you’ve done that thing where you just don’t get out of your nighties for a whole day. While it seems like a dream come true, whenever I decide to stay in my nighties, I get absolutely nothing done.
So even if I’m just having a day home I make sure I get dressed – it just changes the whole vibe of the day. (If I’m planning to workout later that day I get dressed in my workout gear so it immediately removes that obstacle and I know I’ll feel guilty if I change out of them without working out – it’s just another little trick to set yourself up to succeed).
Also, I try to always have my outfit picked out the night before or on Sundays so I don’t have to make any decisions the next morning (which can seriously fatigue you, as you probably know when you’ve tried on 30 outfits and still don’t know what you’re going to wear).
15. Spend Time with Loved ones:
I had to include this one as part of my evening routine because I discovered that I often have difficulties doing things I don’t schedule as much as I procrastinate on the scheduled ones. Making out time every day to spend with my loved ones (friends, family etc) is very important to me and its something I enjoy doing and it’s so worth my time. So include it as part of my routine.
This is what a typical day looks like (or should look like all things being equal) in my life. I do some of these routines in the morning before getting to work/blog and some others in the evening.
Even though I find myself procrastinating a lot on these things and struggling with staying consistent, this routine helps to structure my day and increases productivity (on the days I follow through).
How Do You Create Your Own Routine?
As I said at the beginning, this post isn’t about me trying to get you to do my daily routine too or compel you into creating one- if that’s not your thing.
But I do recommend you create a daily routine and test it for 30 days at least. Compare your life, work and productivity afterwards to see if it’s something you should keep up with.
If you’re creating a daily routine from scratch (i.e you’ve never had one), it’s best to build up your routine by starting with one major habit you want to master. I didn’t just go from zero to this. Over time I added in one thing here and one thing there and it’s all piled on top of each other.
Focus on one or two things and do them every morning for a month by trying a 30-day challenge. This will help you decide whether to keep the activity as an ongoing habit or to let it go and pick another. Then add another the next month, and another the next month. If you want to create a routine that you’ll actually keep doing, don’t try to do everything at once!
And if you want to find out exactly how I came up with the perfect daily routine for me, and how to create your own and use it to aid your personal development journey, make sure you read how to create a daily routine and download the free step-by-step guide! Just click the image below to get your download: