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How to Get More Done With a Daily Routine

The Benefits of Following a Daily Routine

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Desk with Lamps from Hither and Thither

Desk with Lamps from Hither and Thither

Photo / Hither and Thither

When I first started working for myself as a freelancer, I had a terrible time adjusting. I was used to having bosses to tell me what to do when, and I didn't have to think about a schedule because my job dictated the flow of my work. All I had to do was show up, put my head down and slog through my To Do list.

Why follow a daily routine:

I found working for myself frustrating because I was constantly wondering, "Am I working on the right thing right now? Am I using my time wisely?" I also completely stopped exercising and running errands because I didn't think I have time for them. I literally worked all the time. Finally I decided to look at my routine to find out where my time was going, and discovered most of it was going to deciding what to do, and when to do it. This had to change, so I started planning out my days, including the things I dread doing, like running and laundry, and the things I love doing, like yoga and grocery shopping (weird, I know.)

Cataloging what I need to get done and making it into a routine freed up the time I spent agonizing. Eventually it also made things I don't like to do a lot easier because getting them done quickly and routinely became a habit.

Here's why daily routines work so well for most people:

1. They take decision-making out of the process.
Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson, a social scientist and expert on success (in fact, she wrote a book called, appropriately, "Succeed") explains, "Routines remove the need to deliberate over what you should do when (which takes time and energy), because once you've established a routine you've already made those decisions."

2. They make actions automatic.
"Routines can become so automatic that we start performing them without realizing it," says Grant Halvorson, "so we get done what needs to get done, even when our minds are preoccupied with other things."

3. They save time.
They save time in the short run by removing the need to deliberate, and time in the long run because they automate these actions.

Here's how this works (using a very basic example):

Every time you go to put dinner on the table, you discover a sink full of dirty dishes. Now not only do you have to prepare a meal, you've got to roll up your sleeves to clean the dishes, empty the sink, and scrub the sink. Then you still have to complete your original goal: preparing dinner.

You decide you've had enough and add cleaning dishes to your daily routine. This will involve loading the dishwasher at night and emptying the dishwasher in the morning.

The decision has been made! Every night, right before bed, you load the dishwasher, every morning, right before breakfast, you empty it. Repeat.

At first you have to remind yourself to load and empty, but after a while it becomes automatic, freeing up your brain space to ponder more important matters.

Next, we talk about how to set up a daily routine:

More About Your Daily Routine:

  1. Get More Done with a Daily Routine
  2. How to Create a Daily Routine
  3. How to Use a Daily Routine to Reach Your Goals
  4. How to Stick to a Daily Routine
  5. Daily Checklist
  6. 10 Good Daily Habits
  7. 10 Tips for a Better Daily Routine
  8. Erin Duran's Pro Advice on Daily Routines
  9. Wendy Salmon's Pro Advice on Daily Routines
  10. Daily Routine Reading List

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