Routines are potent mechanisms in our daily life that help us achieve more. They create structure in our days to help us deal with the complexity of everyday life. By having time and spaces designated for various activities, our tasks become automatic and allow us to do more.
And the great thing is that you can make them better and better. Think of your routines like you would a building. First, you build the foundation, and then you develop more levels on top of it.
I was watching my daughter do math on an app last night. She was adding mixed fractions, and I wondered at all the progress she had made. I remember watching her learn to add a couple of years ago. Then, last summer, she learned to multiply. As she was adding those mixed fractions, she was using both skill sets at once. She has been building up her math skills, block upon building block, and you can do that too with your routine.
Imagine you have wanted to take up journaling, as you believe it is a helpful habit as an entrepreneur for your creativity and problem-solving. You want to do it in the morning, but you do not have a set routine for that yet. You decide that every morning the first thing you are going to do when you get to your desk is journal. You will do that as you sip your cup of coffee. You buy your journal on a Friday and place it in a drawer on your desk along with a special pen that you will use.
You intend to start on the following Monday. That Monday, you get to the office, and the minute you sit down, you receive an important call. The call is long, and after you hang up, you start working on your morning tasks. By the time 11 am rolls around, and you have a moment to catch up, you recall your failed intention to journal earlier in the morning.
So, you promise yourself you will try again tomorrow. The next morning, you sit down at your desk with your coffee and take out your journal and start to write. As you are writing, you receive another phone call. You realize that maybe you need to change the time you are journaling, or you will have to see if somehow you can move those calls to a different time.
This trial-and-error process goes on until you can find the right spot in your schedule. You decide that to make sure it happens, you will move those calls later in the morning and get in a few minutes early.
After a month, you feel you have your journaling habit set in your schedule, and you are already feeling some of the benefits that come from the practice. You even managed to solve a big problem the other day.
You are ready to try something new. You have also always wanted to spend half an hour each morning reviewing business articles and books. During your busy work schedule, you never seem to find the time, and then by the time you get home, you are too tired to pick up a book or magazine. You decide to give your best hour in the morning to yourself. Plus, you reason that what you learn will make you a better leader in your company, and journaling has gone so well that you now have the confidence to add this to your schedule.
The next morning as you go into work, get your coffee, and start journaling. Then, you read an article from the Harvard Business Review that you have meant to read for months. You are so happy because you managed to finally implement something you have been thinking of doing for ages.
Little by little, you can create the routine you want. Your routine determines what you can achieve and the life you will live. First, put one block in place, then the next, then the next, and before you know it, your day will look closer to the image of what you have always wanted.