When it comes to productivity in any area of your life, work, health, fitness, finance and relationships your routine plays a critical role.
If you want to improve any of these areas of your life then adjusting your routine is a fairly simple and FREE way to start.
The first step to being able to improve on what you currently do is to first get a picture of what your existing routines are and whether they are positive/negative/neither here nor there.
I would suggest a 2-3 week monitoring period. It seems a lot BUT it’s a more honest way of doing it. Self development in any area should not be about instant gratification but a long term positive change in your life.
2-3 weeks is perfect you see, when you first start consciously monitoring it you are actually more likely to naturally improve the things you subconsciously think you need to tweak. For results we don’t want an unintentionally adjusted routine we want the real deal.
I have attached a free pdf tracker. You can use this to help you do this alternatively keeping a little notebook to hand will also work wonders. You will be amazed at what you discover when you start tracking. I know that I do this regularly when I start to feel a bit overwhelmed or as though something needs to change but don’t know where to start.
Whilst you are tracking be brutally honest.
For instance, if you are struggling with money and decide to track your spending to see where your routine is affecting you then you need to log everything including standard bills and don’t round them up or down – to the penny works best. Get receipts for EVERYTHING and a little tip I use is to make a quick not on the receipt so if I buy a Soy Cinnamon Latte (mmmm) I note down why. For instance, feeling tired, craving something sweet or wanted to impress the boss! Not an essay just a quick note.
Or, if you are tracking health, track your wake up and your physical feelings/food cosumption etc. not just whether toy feel good or bad. For example, 6am is when the alarm was set for but what time did you REALLY get out of bed with your hair looking a little ‘There’s something about Mary’ and one eye glued shut with sleep? If it was closer to 7 then put that down and make a note of how you felt. Sleepy/Headache/Dry mouth/bloated erm…gassy. Was your sleep sound/broken/vivid dreams. What mood have you woke up in good/bad/indifferent! Its these little notes that will help you decide what changes you may need to make.
A handy tip; If you journal or keep a calendar, when you come to review this it’s worth marrying up the days so you can see what the effect of stressful days versus quiet days has on your physical wellbeing on that day. I think you get the picture – contact me if you want more info.
Finally, when you have tracked for 2-3 weeks or so you should set aside an hour to go through your notes. Highlight the recurring patterns that err on the side of the negative and equally highlight in a different way the ones that make you feel good and positive. This is where you will need to make some decisions.
To summarise. There are 3 main steps prior to changing your routine – any part of it:
Step 1 = start tracking. Don’t be fooled into trying to track more than one area of your life at a time. The more you give yourself to track the harder it will be to do so and the key to success in anything is to keep it simple and convenient to do.
Step 2 = be brutally honest, no holds barred here or it simply won’t work
Step 3 = summarise and brainstorm
Once you have done those 3 steps now is the time to implement something different. It could be drinking a bottle of water when you first wake up rather than a coffee or it could be getting 20 minutes of exercise in every day. It could be not buying that posh sandwich from the deli van at lunch which will mean altering your routine to incorporate making an alternative lunch and also potentially avoiding the van!
There has been a tonne of information shared about changing your routines and creating new habits and most will tell you it takes anywhere from 21 days to stop the action feeling like a conscious decision to over 3 months for it to become something more akin to subconscious routine. It depends on the scale of the change and your persistence.
I encourage you to track something in your routine that causes you to feel it may need change. When you come to making decisions on what to implement ask yourself:
Why do I need to change this? Is it easy? Is it convenient? Is it within my budget?
If the answer is YES then go go go. If it is no to any of the above then you need to ask yourself –
Do you want or need to change the routine, is it for your friends/yourself/your family/for health or money reasons. Will this reason carry you through the transition?
When it gets tough will you actually continue or will you throw in the towel?
If it isn’t convenient will you really do it when your tired/hungry/bored/busy?
Finally, if it isn’t within your budget is there anyway you can make it be? Can you find a cheaper alternative? Share the cost with someone else?
You need to be prepared because motivation to change your routine will only carry you through so far, you need to get through whatever length of time it takes you to form it as a habitual part of your routine for you to do it daily without noticing.
Let me know if you give this a go in the comments or via my contact me page.
Until next time, Thanks for reading!