Having a daily routine may sound monotonous and rigid after all, shouldn’t life be fun and spontaneous? But in our chaotic lives, having a solid daily schedule that blocks time for eating, working, exercising, and relaxation can ensure you get enough sleep, healthy meals, and maintain your productivity and mental health. If your life feels too unorganised and you don’t know where to start, below are some of Working Den’s advice to set up a daily schedule and stick to it.
“Automate” routine activities
Have you heard of “decision fatigue”? It is the kind of stress you get from making too many decisions, big and small, all day long. Even seemingly insignificant decisions like picking an outfit for work or deciding what to eat for dinner can tire you out, making it more difficult to be productive or discipline yourself later on. That’s why reducing decision fatigue is one of the key elements to help you stick to a daily schedule.
Of course, humans aren’t machines, you cannot program yourself with a few buttons to automate your decision-making process. However, there are a few daily things that you can “automate” to make your life a bit easier. For example, you can take some time during the weekend to plan out all of your meals for the week, and pick up groceries to make these dishes. You can also take a few minutes in the evening to choose your outfit for the next day. Getting these small decisions out of the way can help you reduce decision fatigue during the week, which paves the way for you to discipline yourself and stick to your everyday routine.
Set up a schedule that works for you
One misconception of a good daily schedule is that you have to wake up early in the morning and exercise and be productive before 9 a.m. and wrap up your work neatly when working hours are over. But anyone who has juggled work, housework, and childcare all at the same time can tell you that it is just not that easy. Everyone has a different productivity style and priorities, so you should work out a personalised daily schedule that works for you, which will make it easier to stick to it later on.
Making a daily schedule for yourself requires you to take a look at your priority and your productivity style. If childcare and family time comes first, you should block those priorities in your schedule and set up work hours around it. If you feel like you are more productive in the afternoon or late at night, you can set up those productivity blocks in your schedule as well. Designing a personalised daily schedule will place the right emphasis on your priorities and strengths, which will help you stick to this schedule with ease.
Remove any obstacles
The enemy of productivity is your own inertia, so if you want to stick to a daily schedule, the best way to do it is removing any obstacles that may pull you away and make it easier to stick to your daily routine. Understanding obstacles that may prevent you from getting things done and sticking to your schedule will surely help you make better preparations and allow your schedule to go as planned.
For example, if you want to wake up early and exercise, you should choose your workout clothes and shoes and pick out a home workout exercise the night before. You should make it extra difficult to stay in bed by putting your alarm away from the bed, forcing you to get out of bed to turn it off. Similarly, if your routine includes making yourself dinner, you should prepare all the ingredients ahead of time, so that when the time calls for it, you will find fewer reasons to put it off. If your television is too distracting and you cannot get any work done during designated working hours, you should unplug it and sit in a space where you cannot see the TV until after working hours.
No matter how well you prepare, when the time comes for you to reach difficult tasks in your daily routine, like exercising or getting work done, the only thing that can help you stick to your routine is having self-discipline. You can read all the productivity tips in the world but at the end of the day, there’s no replacement for hard work.
Having discipline is the key to sticking to a schedule that fosters your productivity and creativity. If you have the right attitude towards work and the right motivation to grow and improve yourself, discipline shouldn’t be so difficult. If you want to make a daily schedule and stick to it, the key ingredient is just that simple.
Use a habit tracker
A habit isn’t called a habit until you do an activity repeatedly over a period of time. If you succeed at following your routine the first day, you should repeat the process over and over until you no longer find any friction that may affect your motivation or ability to follow your schedule. We find that using a habit tracker, either with a journal or your phone, can help you monitor your progress and help you follow your routine more consciously.
For example, if your goal is to exercise every day, for the first 30 days, you should use a habit tracker to log your activities and how it affects your sleep and mood. If you miss one day, that’s okay, you should analyse what prevents you from following your schedule and then adjust your routine accordingly to minimise future friction. Using a habit tracker is also a form of motivation when you get a streak – 10 days of exercising every day, for example – you will be more motivated to continue that streak and follow through with your schedule on the days ahead.