We’re incredibly busy these days. Between email, text messages, social media, work, and personal goals, there’s little time for anything else.
Work email alone can take a total of 10 years to sort through over the course of a 45-year career, and that’s just emails that don’t even directly pertain to you. According to Forbes, the average office worker spends 2.5 hours a day reading and responding to an average of 200 emails.
Finally, Americans spend up to 55 minutes per day texting. In fact, most of us are within arms reach of our phones 24/7. A mini-computer with massive distracting capabilities.
Put them all together, and you’ve got 6.5 hours a day devoted just to email, social media, and texting–wait, can that be right?! These activities make it really difficult to get important tasks done. And they’re especially distracting when you have things to do. Add to this the fact that people are natural procrastinators and you’ve got a daunting to-do list hanging over your head.
What are Routines?
A routine is an action or series of actions that one performs regularly. They can occur daily, weekly, monthly, or hourly. Sometimes routines get a bad rap for being monotonous or boring, but routines bring order and structure into your life. You need some degree of predictability in your daily life to avoid chaos and fatigue. The right kind of routines can calm and center you, preparing you to encounter new experiences.
Think of routines as your assistant, like hiring someone to mow your lawn or do other things you don’t enjoy or aren’t particularly good at. You can always offload items into a routine to be consistent. If you make something part of a routine, you’re bound to accomplish it regularly, even and especially if it’s not your favorite. You can also try pairing the less desirable activity with something you enjoy to make it more appealing (listening to the radio while mowing the lawn).
Miscellaneous Items That Can Be Set Up for Routines
You can turn miscellaneous tasks during your day into routines. Make a routine out of writing a checklist of things that you need to do for the day. If you write it down you’re guaranteed not to forget it. Before you finish your workday, create a task list for the following day. You can also develop weekend routines around organizing your home or workspace. An organized workspace will increase your effectiveness during your workweek.
The Habit Connection
Habits are routines that have become ingrained to the point that you no longer think about them; they are second nature. A habit is done without conscious thought. Building a routine is like the first step in creating a habit.
Habits take time to establish. Have you ever heard the statement, “It takes 21 days to form a habit”? This is a little misleading. It takes at least 21 days to form a habit.
In 2009, Philippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College in London conducted a study on how long it actually takes to form a habit, and results indicated it takes an average of 66 days but ranges anywhere from 18 to 254 days! So if you’re looking to build a new habit, expect to be working at it for two to eight months before it’s really cemented.
The good news? It’s not an all-or-nothing deal. If you make mistakes occasionally along the way, it won’t impact your overall success.
Because habits are automatic, you perform them with little conscious effort; you don’t really have to think about them. You can then pair them with other tasks, depending on the habit, thus increasing your productivity.
Routines can make you radically more effective if you can use them until they form a habit. When a routine becomes a habit, you don’t even have to think about it as you do it. This means that in some cases you can even pair it with something else (like listening to a podcast while walking). Habits (at least the good ones) are extremely useful in that they take so little of your focus that you can work on other things simultaneously. Although, as we’ve discovered, habits can take some time to fully form, the work you put in now will be worth the extra time you have later.
Contact me to schedule a consultation to learn about creating effective routines. Click this link to find out more.