How to Set up a Productivity Routine (Part I)

The word routine typically has negative associations. This perception is in sharp contrast with research findings: Northwestern Medicine found that a routine has a positive impact on mental health, decreases stress, improves sleep quality, productivity, eating habits and focus. As we live in times where uncertainty has become a norm, having a clear routine is more important than ever. There is also a lot of emphasis on productivity: ideally, we are supposed to work fast and deliver good work results. Quality work comes at a cost: only through self-discipline we can implement a routine which could help enhance our productivity. To routinize yourself, follow these steps:

Step 1: Wake up at the right time. Successful people do not necessarily have to wake up early. There is no need to force yourself to get up early if you do not have to. Instead pay attention to your circadian rhythm. Listen to your body: it will show you when it is time to sleep, wake up, eat and exercise. It also suggests when you are the most productive, and helps you plan your day according to your energy levels.

Step 2: Exercise. Regular exercise is important for both your mental and physical health. It can also energize you and improve the quality of your sleep. You do not need to do anything physically demanding. Even a 30 minute walk can be beneficial. You can freely choose the most suitable time for exercising. If you decide to exercise in the morning, it will give you a sense of accomplishment and set you up positively for the rest of the day.   

Step 3: Read. Reading helps you get new ideas and perspectives. It reduces stress, expands your knowledge, and improves your memory and focus. If you think: “When do I have time to read?”, the answer is simple: whenever you have time. Instead of taking your phone whenever you have a chance, try to read for at least 10 minutes. Make a habit to always have a physical book with you and another on your phone or tablet.   

Step 4: Prioritize tasks. Start every morning by reviewing and prioritizing tasks for the day. This will help your mind transition from personal time to professional. You can plan your day with a to-do list or personal planner. Write down your goals and rank each task by importance. This will help you make your schedule more manageable. 

Step 5: Make decisions in the evening. Many productivity experts and successful people make decisions for the next day in the evening. This routine helps them start work early and focus on important work. Since our willpower and decision-making abilities are limited, making too many decisions in the morning can slow us down and drain mentally. By eliminating morning decision-making, you have more energy and time to focus on important tasks.  

Read How to Set up a Productivity Routine (Part II).

References:  Laura Berlinsky-Schine, | John Rampton, | | Britt Joiner,