What’s the first thing you think of when someone says the word routine? Does your mind go straight to skincare? Productivity? Or are you one of those people whose primary association with the word routine is the idea of going through the same old grind day in and day out?
Whatever you’ve learned to think of when hearing “routine,” the fact is that having a well-developed system can be a powerful tool for improving all aspects of your life.
By developing behavioral patterns through stacked habits, you can effectively invest in your well-being, improve your mood, boost your ability to handle stress, and maximize your productivity. So, if you’re ready to create positive rituals to upgrade your everyday life, here are the top tips for building your best life.
Starting the day right is one of the most effective ways to set yourself up for success. And not just because waking up early or preparing for the day in the “correct” order helps you accomplish more. Instead, having a solid morning routine can elevate the level at which you perform (physically and cognitively) and, more importantly, ensure you feel better throughout the day.
But while there’s a lot of advice telling you how to start your mornings, the best way to develop a morning ritual that works for you is to find a balance between following science-backed advice and your personal preferences.
The first way to elevate your everyday life by adopting a morning routine is to set a wake-up time and stick to it (almost) all the time. According to science-backed data, having a consistent wake-up time helps anchor your circadian rhythm, prevents occurrences such as Sunday night insomnia, and makes you feel more awake in the morning, allowing you to be more productive during the early hours of the day.
Another great thing you can do to elevate your morning routine is to not pick up your phone and check emails or social media while you’re still in bed. An increasing number of data shows that scrolling social media leads to a dopamine-fuelled addiction. So, instead of allowing your phone to take control of your life, strive for a better balance by opting to skip the scrolling upon waking.
The better alternative to going straight for your phone when waking up is to develop the habit of hydrating upon waking. Health experts agree that drinking enough water offers numerous health benefits. And while you may not need to chug down three cups as soon as you’re out of bed, it’s a good idea to consistently drink approximately eight ounces of water per hour for the first ten hours of the day, then gradually reduce the amount you drink to ensure over-hydration doesn’t interfere with your sleep.
Finally, if you’re serious about hacking your morning routine for maximum success throughout the day, consider starting your days with sunlight exposure and gentle movement (ideally combined). Getting sunlight in your eyes is a great way to regulate your energy levels and circadian rhythm. On top of that, research shows that it could be essential for maintaining eye health, which is particularly important for kids and adults who work desk jobs. Moreover, light morning exercise improves mood, energy levels, alertness, and focus. So, if you’re looking for these benefits, try to start the day with a 30-minute walk.
Another excellent way to harness the power of a routine in your everyday life is to pay attention to your workplace productivity systems. After all, accomplishing your daily tasks requires a lot of energy and focus.
So, by embracing a workplace productivity routine, you can discover new ways to help yourself concentrate on your goals. Moreover, nurturing productive workplace habits allows you to avoid distractions, maximize your cognitive capacity, and allow yourself to work smarter instead of harder, thus unlocking more free time for relaxation and preventing burnout.
One great way to create a work routine that will help you stay productive is to embrace the power of planning. By using a variety of scheduling tools — whether the Calendar app on your phone or a more advanced SaaS product — you can plan every week and gain insights into what you need to accomplish and how much time you’ve got to do it.
If you struggle with taking on too much, practice the planning of your ideal week. By blocking out hours in your calendar for specific tasks (both professional and personal), you’ll uncover potential productivity-enhancing opportunities and create a scheduling tool that lets you prioritize.
Moreover, if you’re trying to develop habits that will help you get more done, understand that true long-term productivity requires you to take sufficient breaks. So schedule time off for yourself, whether that’s keeping the weekends reserved for personal time, setting a hard-stop time for your workdays, or ensuring that you take at least a few days off every couple of months.
Health, Self-Care, and Stress-Relief
Another excellent way to improve your everyday life by adopting a routine is to develop habits that enhance your overall well-being. Ideally, you should pay attention to your health, practice self-care, and learn stress-relief techniques to cope with inevitable daily challenges.
Of course, this is easier said than done — especially when dealing with stressful and overwhelming situations. However, by encouraging yourself to turn your well-being routine into something you do automatically, without even having to think about it, you can make it easier to take good care of yourself.
For example, one of the best ways to keep up with your self-care practices is to schedule them ahead of time. Add an annually repeating calendar entry for a doctor’s visit. Block out a couple of hours per week for therapy sessions. Make time in your schedule for your workouts (note that the CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise plus two hours of strength training per week).
Furthermore, you can also use planning and habit-building to supercharge your nutrition. Essentially, by creating a meal plan for the week ahead, you can ensure that you’re getting all the nutrients your body needs to achieve peak performance, but that’s not all. Having already prepared options allows you to avoid making bad nutrition choices, especially at the end of a stressful day when the last thing you want to do is cook.
Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of having a self-care routine you enjoy and that offers stress relief, whether that’s doing your skincare, meditating, journaling, or practicing yoga. After all, learning how to calm your mind and body isn’t just something that feels good. Data shows that knowing how to manage your stress levels significantly decreases your chances of becoming ill and could even be the key to avoiding heart disease, diabetes, and depression.
Lastly, to optimize your habits to help you live your best life, don’t forget about adopting a relaxing evening routine.
Although most people see sleep as something they have to do and are willing to sacrifice a couple of hours of shut-eye to get things done, scientific research is finding that getting a good night’s sleep is the single most impactful thing you can do to improve your health, cognitive capacity, and emotional well-being.
With this in mind, your bedroom must be the ideal sleep-promoting environment. Find the best sleeping arrangements for you and your partner — even if it means going with a split king mattress or sleeping in separate rooms. Turn down the thermostat in the evenings. Pay attention to lighting, ideally obstructing all light sources at night.
Furthermore, think about the habits you want to practice in the evenings.
For starters, stick to your sleep schedule. Secondly, give yourself time to wind down before bed. And avoiding cortisol-boosting activities like watching horror flicks, scrolling social media, or doing strenuous exercise).
Additionally, consider doing things to mindfully relax yourself — whether by doing some stretches, breathwork, or meditating.
As you can see, developing and sticking to a routine can be super helpful in ensuring that you function at your best throughout the day. So don’t be afraid of trying out new habits — especially if they can make you feel better, improve your health, or allow you to get more done without working yourself to the bone.
Remember that changing your daily rituals isn’t always easy — particularly if you have a couple of bad habits you’d like to leave behind. Nonetheless, don’t let that discourage you. Instead, start small, make gradual changes, and see if you can find someone to keep you motivated (and accountable) on your path to a better you.