You may have heard the saying: you are what you repeatedly do. Whether we’re aware of it or not, the habits and routines we practice on a daily basis have a significant impact on our success and overall well-being. In James Clear’s book Atomic Habits, he says, “Success is the product of daily habitsâ€”not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.” Essentially, transformation simply cannot happen in one fell swoop. We have to be intentional about our daily habits, and then success reveals itself over time. Do you have an area of your life in which you’re craving success, refreshment, or change?
With the arrival of spring, there’s no time like the present to reassess your daily routines and make adjustments as needed. In this post, let’s explore the benefits of intentional time use, how to assess your current routine, steps for building a revised routine, and tips for maintaining your new habits. Once we put these ingredients together, you’ll be well on your way to consistent and lasting change!
Importance of Daily Habits
Studies have shown that creating and sticking to daily habits leads to increased productivity, reduced stress, and a greater sense of purpose. Most daily habits are done on default. That’s your amazing brain’s way of saving energy and protecting you from decision fatigue. But that means your daily routine, if you don’t take a careful look at it, is determined by your life’s conditioning and your well-intentioned, lazy brain. It’s not exactly a recipe for success.
This can become a blessing or a curse because the habits you practice either contribute to or detract from your overall well-being. As you bring consciousness and intentionality to your habits and, ultimately, your daily routine, you could very well set yourself up on an exponential path for success in exactly the areas most important to you.
Assessing Your Current Routine
The first step in revamping your routine is taking stock of how you’re currently using your time. Utilize time-tracking tools or apps to get a clear picture of where your time is going throughout the day. Consider factors such as your energy levels, productivity peaks, and necessary downtime. Spend time reflecting on what truly matters to you and what activities align with your values and goals.
One of my favorite tools for taking stock on my current routine came from the book 168 Hours: You Have More time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam. Vanderkam doesn’t just look at one day because days vary significantly. Instead, she takes a look at the whole week. First, log the time you spend doing various activities throughout the week. Then, add together all the time you spent last week looking at your phone, playing with your kids, or waiting in fast food lines. See if your priorities are reflected in your tally by the week’s end.
Assessing Your Priorities
Once you’ve assessed your current routine, it’s time to build a revised one that aligns with your values and goals.
We often underestimate the importance evaluating how we spend our time, and yet we constantly feel a slave to the clock ticking on. Sometimes we find ourselves so caught up in our daily routines that we forget to reflect on whether our time is being spent effectively. It’s crucial to take stock of our daily routine and prioritize our activities, ensuring that we’re spending our time in ways that bring value and satisfaction.
So, now that you have assessed your weekly routine, it’s time to get out another slip of paper and jot down a list of all your roles and responsibilities. Mine turned into a pretty messy web chart with main categories like, Mom, Wife, Employee, Home Manager, Self, Health, Spirituality, etc. It wasn’t pretty, but it was an effective brainstorm. Feel free to be as general or specific as you wish. Finally, circle the main categories that are the most important to you.
Building Your Revised Routine
Now compare the time usage assessment from step one with your prioritized roles from step two. Are your priorities reflected in your weekly time usage? If not, it’s time to build small daily goals to get you where you want to be. This is where we plan our day on purpose.
You may choose to wake up 15 minutes earlier to enjoy a cup of tea and 10-minute morning yoga flow once you realize that your health and self categories are severely neglected. Or you may be surprised by how much time you spent on your phone avoiding dinner dishes when you want to be focusing on your children, so you set a routine for the family to clean up dinner together before a nightly activity like a bike ride, family game, or story time before getting ready for bed.
Prioritize activities that contribute to your long-term goals and well-being, and determine how much time should be allocated to each activity in order to achieve balance. It’s important to allow for flexibility and the ability to adjust your schedule as needed.
Sticking with Your New Routine
Building new habits can be challenging, but there are tools and strategies you can use to help maintain your new routine. The book Atomic Habits, referenced above, is a great starting place for building habits into your routine that last a lifetime. Habit-stacking is one of my favorites from the book, and it’s especially helpful when adding to a morning or evening routine.
Maybe through your assessment, for instance, you recognize that you want to impact your health in a positive way. You’re not ready to commit to a diet or gym time at this moment, but you reason 1% positive change can add up over time, so you add vitamin supplements to your daily routine. Using the power of habit-stacking, you take an unwavering morning and evening routine like brushing your teeth and stack on taking your vitamins after the existing habit. Soon, doing one easily leads to doing the other.
Beyond habit-stacking, there are so many helpful ways to build habits. Prepare for success by setting up your habit cues the night before (I always put my gym clothes on the bathroom counter before I go to bed), find a friend who wants to incorporate the habit into their life with you, download an accountability app, or gift yourself a reward when you stick to your new routine for 7 days in a row. But most importantly, never miss two days in a row! Celebrate small successes and milestones along the way, and be prepared to make adjustments or modifications as your needs and priorities change.
Take it one day at a time and find joy in the small moments. A revised routine is not meant to be restrictive, but rather serve as a supportive framework that allows you to live with intention and purpose and feel more connected, content, and fulfilled.
Spring Clean Your Routine
Intentional use of time leads to increased productivity, reduced stress, and a greater sense of purpose. If the habits you’re trying to implement become a source of self-sabotage and consistent failure, consider altering your goal for something 1% better than where you’re at now without adding the shame and blame that comes from biting off more than you can chew.
By taking the time to assess your current routine and make adjustments as needed, you can set yourself up for success and greater well-being. So, as you tackle your spring cleaning this year, why not take the opportunity to revamp your routine as well? Remember to start small, stay focused, and enjoy the benefits of a purposeful, productive routine.