The busy fall season has officially begun. Summer always seems to slip by as fast as sand slips through my sandals. And while I love the relaxed tone of summer, I can’t help but welcome fall.
Its routine is both predictable and comforting.
Here are my top three reasons why routines help us be more productive:
1) A routine protects time for our top priorities
Most people are pretty clear about their top priorities. (e.g., I am committed to fitness.)
The difficult part is in making time for these top priorities. (But I haven’t seen my running shoes in months.)
A routine helps to protect time for our top priorities. We block off time for our team, clients and miscellaneous tasks. A routine also keeps us proactive and grounded. The opposite approach often leads to the feeling that there is never enough time.
Establishing a routine is often easier than we think. I was recently chatting with a senior executive who protects two hours every day over lunch to get through his emails (and eat). His equally busy colleagues were amazed at his ability to make this happen. But once they realized that it was possible, they soon started doing the same thing.
2) A routine keeps us focused
We face countless distractions on the job. Days can fly by, and despite our “busyness” we can feel as though we didn’t get any real work done.
A routine helps us stay focused, despite all of the other things vying for our attention. It’s like booking a meeting with ourselves – and allowing ourselves the same uninterrupted time that we grant to others.
A great routine also protects time for all of the people, emails and phone calls that need our attention. In reality, these other things can act as a welcomed break.
3) A routine simplifies our lives
Let’s face it: work can be hard enough already. Anything that simplifies our work day is welcomed.
A routine mitigates procrastination by eliminating decision points in our day (i.e., “what should I work on next?”). A routine acts as a guide by assigning different parts of our day to different types of work.
A routine also helps to manage expectations. We are more aware of when we have time to work on things, and therefore are more realistic about our commitments and deadlines.
Finally, a routine helps to break our day into smaller chunks. This reinforces how precious time is. When we focus on shorter time periods, we are more likely to make the time count.
There is no doubt about it – a routine also needs to be flexible. If your boss books a meeting at 1pm, it probably would not be wise to turn it down because that is your “email catch-up” time.
But despite the occasional adjustments, establishing a routine can be one of the most powerful things that we can do to be productive.
Thanks for your time,