This week, I wanted to share a bit on why I think it is important to develop a morning routine to maximize your productivity, and how to do so.

Why you should

I have found that developing a daily productivity routine that you perform in the morning is pretty imperative in doing a few things :

  • It sets the tone for the day. If you can envision what a good day should look like, with specific actions to support that vision, it sets you off on the right course, both mentally and strategically. When you start the day on your best foot, you “own” the day just a little bit more.

  • It moves you closer to the master plan. Whatever that big idea is, whether it be to write a novel, plan a wedding, start a business – a repetitive behavior can aid significantly in “moving the needle” toward achieving your long-term goals, which in turn serves your overall life’s work.

  • It keeps stress levels lower. I have found that simply knowing that I have a road map for the day is aid enough in comforting me when unexpected issues arise. If you know what you are supposed to be doing, but aren’t able to do it, because either some person or some situation helped put your day into crisis mode, it instills a sense of control because you know what to do next, immediately following said crisis.

How to develop a routine

Studies have shown that it can take about 66 days to form a routine for most people. That seems like a long time, but all it takes is a commitment to being more productive to keep you on track before you have developed a routine into “muscle memory”.

That commitment, along with these 5 simple steps have worked for me:

  1. Rise early. I wake up every morning at 5am. It may seem early for some, but if I can get to bed by 10pm on a weeknight, that’s enough sleep for me.
  2. Get your fuel. I wake Bobby, my Shih Tzu, and fix breakfast for he and I. This is for two reasons : to spend quality time with the little guy, and to get my metabolism going. I usually eat something healthy like plain oatmeal with banana, which provides enough fuel for physical and mental endurance (at least until lunch!). Also - I always fix an amazing cup of coffee to accompany breakfast. That’s a non-negotiable for me.
  3. News is next. There has been some dissent in opinion as to whether news is good or bad for you, but I’d like to try and move through this world without total blinders on, so I catch about 10 minutes with the New York Times every day.
  4. A date with your calendar. This is where the rubber meets the road. I try to keep everything digital, so whether I am reviewing my upcoming day on my iPhone or Mac or iPad, I am using the wonderful Fantastical (which is simply a more advanced version of Apple’s built-in Calendar app) to review my upcoming day’s events. In my mind, the calendar is the area of “sacred ground” - it is not what I want to happen today, but rather what will happen. It represents the daily commitments that I have made to myself and clients, that if missed, will really make me look bad/feel bad/end up in jail. OK, that last part is for dramatic effect, but you get the idea. Calendar items have to be done. I open the app, and review what appointments and non-negotiable items are scheduled for today, and make any additions using my task list.
  5. Time for tasks. I use the excellent to-do app Clear to manage my task and project lists. I go way in depth in my upcoming guide Getting Things Clear (which will be live in January 2016 - a preview can be found here) on how to manage tasks using Clear, but suffice it to say that I have my daily “Review” list open in the app, which houses potentially meaningful items for the day. Some of these items get added to my calendar, to be completed or addressed today.

I hope that you can glean some bits of information from my daily routine to begin establishing your own. As always, contact me if you have any feedback or questions!