Have you ever read one of those articles that talk about daily routines, maybe even covers super successful people’s morning to see what they do?
Seems like there are a lot of them out there, here is the problem though….
You read that article, get excited, wander off in dreamland a bit and think of how you can apply that morning workout, 5am wake up, daily green drink etc to your day. Heck you may even go so far as to start it, but then it doesn’t last and soon enough you fall back into your old ways.
Do you want to get the low down on why the heck that happens and how you can make new habits stick? More importantly, how about get some real world ways to chop up your day?
I know for me, I struggled with this for years. Whenever the topic came up too I would act like a know it all, that was really just to cover the fact I had NO idea what the heck I was doing, why things would stick and others wouldn’t.
A few years later, dozens of books on habit, routine, subconscious triggers, and hundreds of hours of research later here we are…
I think it would be best to touch on habits as they drive everything else I want to talk about, and really up until the last say 20 years there was still huge gaps in our understanding of what really “made things stick”.
So now with neuroscience, fMRI machines and other tech that has all changed and I think at some point we will fully understand this area of humanity.
If you go after new goals and they don’t last then understand that there is a deeper rooted habit that is trumping your attempts at changing this area of your life.
Where all habit change starts is with awareness, so first you have to know what you’re doing when you’re doing it. So writing out the habit itself, figuring out what actually triggers it and what reward and payoff you get from the habit itself is where you want to start.
Most people try to remove habits when instead it’s much easier to just substitute in a new one and over time that will rewire to the new habit.
Exp: If I have a sugar craving and then every time that hits me, my habit is to eat sugar, sub in something else instead of the sugar, like green juice, wheat grass shot, magnesium etc and then if you still have the craving you can eat the sugar.
There is a very low chance you would still want the sugar, it’s not based on a real biological need, its a stimulus response based on something internally so again attempting to remove this completely will probably be less successful than just remapping it.
Outside of that, scientist found that Belief acts as a glue that helps hold together the new habit as its forming which makes sense, you have to believe that change is possible and that you can go from A to B.
Afterall “New Years resolution” people don’t keep going after the initial water weight drops off because of a lack of belief.
Daily Routine Tools
Now let’s talk about the tools of the trade that you will need to make this perfect daily routine.
- An alarm clock (comes standard on any smartphone)
- Google Calendar or any online calendar system
All 3 of the above mentioned are in fact free and super handy when it comes to charting out our daily routine.
Before I get into that, we have to do a bit of investigational work here to figure out which buckets you’re currently spending all your time.
For 1 week, just journal the things you do day-by-day so you can see how you’re spending your day and where your time is actually going. Assuming you’re an entrepreneur of some sort so here are the things you most likely do on a daily or weekly basis….
Things like- virtual meetings, physical meetups, sales calls, team calls, running ads, writing copy, emails, launching sales funnels, and maybe more like design or video work, hosting events, webinars and on and on.
Now that you have a better idea of where your time is going, it’s time to chunk down to the next layer which is to group all those activities into just a few categories.
- For anything Marketing or Advertising related you could group into “Money Activities”
- For anything admin related like taxes, accounting, meeting with those departments etc can be “Admin Activities”
- For anything department related like team meetings, planning and strategizing (outside of other categories) could be “Team Activities”
- For anything that is a maybe like catch up with a friend, running out to pick something up etc can just be “Open Activities”
- For anything that is personal like date night, self help time, seminars etc something like “Personal Activities”
Don’t go nuts with categories for now, keep it around 4 or 5 for now just to keep things simple. This is just supposed to save you time when charting this out on a calendar and allow for stage 1 tracking of your days so you can look back and see where things are working and maybe not working during reflection periods.
The above chunking method I originally got from Matt Gallant.
Mapping Your Day
It all starts with deciding when you want to wake up and if you need to set an alarm to ensure you get up at that time. Here is something cool I have found out, if you declare the statement “I am going to get up tomorrow at 5am” you usually do. Now keep in mind that I am talking about the body waking up at that time, if you choose to roll over or not physically get up then who knows when you will actually get out of bed.
If you don’t trust yourself with this just yet, use an alarm clock on your phone and put it on the night stand.
Next let’s actually look at the day and so I will give you an example of what mine looks like.
This is my calendar at the time of originally writing this which is always changing as I continue to adjust it for my ideal result. When I roll out a new habit I always front end load my calendar with it to help get it to stick sooner.
Let’s look at what habits I was really looking to apply in the calendar example above…
- I was switching my workout time from 5am to 11am and doing a cardio session in the morning because running always wakes up my inner genius
- I was also doubling up by listening to an audiobook during the run which I love doing because it drops me into such deep FLOW
- I was also tossing in a early morning read of just a few pages to get my brain firing and inspire a FB post
- Last thing I was habitualizing was my daily reference to goals both long term and for the week. I want to note that each day I use a short list on a sticky note for to-do lists. That way I can cross off as I go and toss away at the end of the day. There is NO carry over on a sticky note so promotes the whole “get shit done” mechanism. More on this in a minute…
I want to note that, once per week I set aside time for accounting, a few times per quarter I set aside time for taxes and all the time that actually requires is in fact weighed into my calendar, they just aren’t showing up on the calendar above.
While reviewing the above calendar breakdown I am sure you noticed that the day is mostly broken down into things that lead to making more money and second is personal development through fitness and study/reflection time.
I feel that having daily time for study really opens up creativity and helps one re-remember a lot of core things they probably already knew but forgot along the way. This also leads to “ah-ha” moments and helps shine light on sticking points in your business and life.
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Hot Tip: I want to give you a quick tip here and that is to set aside a small block of time each week or two weeks to review how the last sprint went, asses your production and make changes. These times need to be slotted out in daily calendar which is why I mention that here.
To-Do Lists & Sprints
Sprints are really a term that comes from the development world as it’s a way to track a task from start to finish. I have taken that from running a software company over the last 4 or so years and applied it to my goals with huge success.
You can use a free tool like Trello for this to track not only the activity of a whole company or brand but also for your week to week tasks and bigger things you’re wanting to push across the finish line.
To-do lists I keep really simple and only give myself 3 things to do each day, one being a bigger task followed by two smaller tasks. If I get through it all, I can simply add more to the list which I do one at a time from there ensure that I don’t once again swamp myself out with tasks.
Tasks weigh heavy on us so when you create super long to-do lists I really don’t see it as productive as just a few things. The decision making and computing abilities of our conscious mind aren’t built for the super long lists and since that can quickly put fear, stress and trigger fight or flight- I really don’t bother.
Lets look at how you can use Trello for the big picture and for 1-2 week sprints…
*This shows the standard flow I use which is (To do, In progress, Done)
The above shot shows how you could structure a 1 week sprint with all tasks dumped in there, then daily you can work off a sticky note for just a few core tasks, which as I mentioned I use 3. Remember the sticky note is used because we don’t want that thing to be around for weeks, more like a day so it really encourages one to cross off the items and get it done.
Next let’s look at another way of structuring your week with buckets broken down into media type which would work for your social media.
Next here is a look of how you could structure an overview board for all your programs, services or even businesses.
Lastly let’s look at how you could structure a board for one business, topic or area of interest.
I think that should give you a great idea of how to work with Trello and create boards that fit your business and style.
The last thing I want to show you here is how you could use a whiteboard or even a cardboard sheet to create a visual scrum board using sticky notes and post up in your office to see things at a glance.
There is quite a bit of psychological benefits to using tools like this and to confirm those that are asking Yes this is redundant, it is meant to show you positive movement right in front of you. This creates another dopamine hit and also helps the habit stick, so there is a method to this madness yes.
I personally feel that the topic of daily routines etc is getting quite washed out these last few years and I am always one to keep things simple and efficient, this is part of the overall system that I have created for myself and use with my students.
You don’t need to roll all this out today, one piece at a time integrated over the next 30 or so days would work best so you don’t overwhelm and fall right back out of the habits.