If you run a business or are an entrepreneurship enthusiast, you might be familiar with the concept of a “CEO routine”. It is usually something like waking up at 5 a.m., reading the news and emails, running for one hour, working until 7 p.m., and family time for a couple of hours.
Such routines might seem perfect in theory, but although we may admire Jeff Bezos’s or Bill Gates’s routines efficacy, both lead different lives, and the rules of their schedule probably won’t fit ours.
Coincidence or not, many company owners indeed choose to start their days early, as shown by CSQ in their related article. But exceptions do exist: Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti wakes up at 8:30 a.m. Does it make him a less successful entrepreneur? Definitely not.
So, while following a pre-made routine is better than following none, building a custom and effective routine that you can actually stick to can be way more beneficial to your professional and personal lives.
Over the next few lines, let’s find out why it is important to maintain a personal routine and how to design an effective one.
Why you should have a personal routine
As soon as we wake up, we must start making decisions. What will I have for breakfast? Will I work out in the morning or
in the evening? Should I start working right away? The smallest decisions can pile up into an avalanche of stress that can be avoided by designing and following a routine that will help us make some choices ahead of time.
Routines are nothing more than a recurrent schedule of habits, events, and tasks that we must follow consistently.
While some people may think that leading an extremely dynamic and arbitrary daily plan can be more exciting, there is some therapeutic power in predictability. Reliving behavioral patterns every day can reduce stress and trigger calming effects on both adults and children.
The benefits of sticking to a routine
When maintaining a routine, it’s easier to keep up with good habits and cast out the bad ones, helping us tackle those duties that would otherwise be forgotten or procrastinated.
It is not uncommon to observe short-term health and productivity improvements such as better sleep and optimized work sessions after we start following a routine. But the long-term results that come from turning daily tasks into habits are the most beneficial.
I personally really enjoy following a morning routine. Knowing exactly how the first hours of my day will play out eases me into the day, as I don’t have to think too much to get it started.
Keeping up with my morning habits, such as taking a nourishing breakfast and hitting the gym, are my first achievements of the day and gets me moving to do everything else.
How to build an effective routine that works for you?
Following a routine can be challenging at first.
If you have once failed those one-size-fits-all routines explained on heavily illustrated Pinterest infographics, know that the problem isn’t you but the routine itself. It can be overwhelming to change your habits from day to night, especially if you start too many new things at a time and try to be too strict with them at once.
But the desire to change our entire life in a second doesn’t come out of nowhere. With the popularity of self-growth books, many pre-made routine models are widespread as the keys to success.
In reality, most of those books, such as Atomic Habits by James Clear and The Morning Miracle by Hal Elrod, show facts and experiments tested by the authors to help the reader design their own routine rather than dictate a universal truth about habits and routines.
Learning the proven facts, data, and techniques to help you build an effective routine is always welcome, but you don’t need to take every word to heart.
In fact, an effective routine is one tailored to our everyday life and needs. It considers our particular work responsibilities, our leisure preferences, our health, and our individual personality. But how does someone build such a routine from scratch?
Next, I’ll walk you through all the necessary steps.
Have a clear and practical purpose
You probably have once read the famous quote from John F. Kenndy, “Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction”. This concept also applies to maintaining a routine.
Every habit and task we implement in our daily or weekly routines must have a clear purpose and an expected outcome. Here are some examples:
- You can run every day to improve your running performance or improve your health.
- You can conduct team meetings every day to learn what the team is working on and give them guidance.
- You can take care of the garden twice a week to keep it looking nice or grow some plants.
- You can go to networking events once a month to prospect potential investors or clients.
Keeping up with a routine becomes much easier when you set a practical and achievable goal, as you’ll be able to visualize the short-term and long-term benefits.
Keep it simple and flexible
Entrepreneurs and all high-achieving people have the tendency to go all-in when it comes to getting as many things as possible done in one day. But less is always more when it comes to creating a routine from zero.
When implementing only a few habits at a time and letting go of a hectic schedule, you’ll have higher chances of success in maintaining the routine.
On top of that, you don’t need to plan every minute of your day. It is essential to allow the routine to have some flexibility, especially in the beginning when you might not be sure of how much time you’ll actually need to complete each task.
Keep in mind that unexpected events are bound to happen, and, with a flexible routine, it will be undemanding to adjust your plans without major frustration.
Let it evolve with you
It’s impossible to maintain the exact same routine for years.
As your life and priorities change, the routine should evolve with it and become a tool to achieve your new goals and boost your personal growth.
For instance, when you start a new professional project, you might have to make time for the related tasks and maybe even let go of some older activities. Or if you move to a new city, you might have to consider the time spent in traffic or the lack of it to redesign your routine.
It’s all about trial and error
It is unlikely that you’ll build the perfect routine on the first try. It’s not uncommon for us to think we can tackle more in a day than we actually can or that we can do things faster than in reality.
The fun thing about personal routines is that it’s personal! You can try different routine setups repeatedly until you find a pattern that works for you in the meantime.
You’ll soon find out that we are prone to mistakes when creating a reasonable routine. Maybe a particular habit just didn’t cut out for you, or you missed a task several days during a week.
It’s crucial not to go too hard on yourself if the routine isn’t working out as you imagined or if you are not as disciplined with it initially.
An interesting way to put your routine designs to the test is by tracking each habit at first. You can create a simple chart with the habits and the days of the week you’d like to complete them or use apps like Loop or Streaks to mark each time you get it done.
By doing so, you gain extra motivation by seeing the chart fully complete, and you also have access to empirical data that will help you tailor the routine for the future.
Find tools to help you “show up”
One of the benefits of living in the era of technology is using it to help us do the simplest things.
When it comes to following a routine and developing the necessary discipline to stick to it, we can always use some tools to help us remember it and tackle the planned tasks.
Here are some of my favorites:
- Akiflow, to organize your schedule and tasks. My team and I develop this app aiming to help you centralize all your calendar events and assignments in one place. From that, you can plan your days and weeks by blocking some time for each specific task.
- Alarmy, to get you out of bed. Conventional alarm clocks can be easily shut off and snoozed. Alarmy helps you get things done by requiring that you complete an active mission to deactivate the alarm, such as a quick math problem or a puzzle.
- Clockify, for time tracking. When tracking the time spent on each task, you’ll find out whether you need more or less time than you thought while planning your routine. Clockify works as a time tracker, but it goes the extra mile by compiling the analytics of the tracked time.
- Habitica, to gamify your routine. This productivity app helps you implement new habits by turning them into a neverending game. You’ll gain rewards for every habit followed, but can also be punished if you forgot to stick to it.
- stickK, to help achieve your goals at any cost. stickK offers users Commitment Contracts to ensure they work towards their goals. Each contract has custom parameters, such as sending money to someone if you don’t reach the goal.
- Forest, to keep your phone down. This app grows a tree in a virtual forest every time the user starts a new focus session. If you leave the app to use your phone, your tree will die. This gamified approach might help you maintain focus during tasks.
Stick to your routine with Akiflow
Knowing how productivity functionalities can benefit our daily life by helping us stick to a routine and complete our tasks, my team and I compiled most of them on Akiflow.
Having all your productivity tools in one hub makes it a lot easier to plan a routine, find the best time to keep up with each habit, and never miss another task again.
Akiflow helps you boost your individual productivity by pulling tasks from any other platform you might use, such as calendars, emails, project management tools, and many more.
You can access all your personal and professional tasks and assignments in one view and block time on your calendar to tackle each one of them.
Is there a task that you must do every day? You can set a recurrent task or event and even create checklists inside their card.
With a clean and thoughtful interface, you can quickly create new tasks and categorize them using the command bar feature activated by keyboard shortcuts. You do need to spend some time planning your schedule, but it doesn’t have to take too long.
Akiflow can become your go-to app when sticking to a routine and enhancing your personal productivity. You just have to start!
Try it out for free for two weeks and observe how it can be a game-changer in maintaining a balanced schedule.
While building a custom routine and sticking to it can be challenging, the potential outcomes are worth the ride.
By repeating a set of good habits every day, you can lead a healthier life, learn a new skill, tighten your relationship with friends and family, and achieve those professional goals that can otherwise seem so distant.
For instance, if you want to read more books, reading five pages every day will lead you to 1.825 pages a year, which is about seven or eight books. From zero to eight books, it’s a great accomplishment.
Many different methods can guide you when creating your own routine, and there are several habits that you can choose to start with. But I would say that the main secret is that you don’t have to do this alone: you can make use of great tools to assist on this journey, such as Akiflow.