Some people thrive on routines. Others run as fast as they can when they hear the word. But having a routine doesn’t mean you have to give up spontaneity or creativity. Whether it’s a morning routine, a working routine, a relaxation routine, or any other type of daily routine, they’re important.
Throughout this post I’m going to share a number of reasons why having daily routines can help you increase productivity, stay focused, up your energy levels, help you build good habits, and so much more.
Thinking that you don’t have time to add a routine to your day? Never fear: these routines can be accomplished in as little as 30 minutes!
And if you’re wondering how to implement a routine if you hate planning ahead and enjoy mixing things up, I’ll share some tips and an example for how to fall in love with your daily routines – and do them consistently – even if you don’t feel like it.
A Note About Your Daily Routine
Before we dive into all things routines and productivity, let’s be clear on a few facts about routines.
- A routine is a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program. A routine is performed as part of a regular procedure rather than for a special reason. (Oxford Languages)
- Routines are critical, not only because they put you in a healthy rhythm to achieve, they also help take the emotions out of stressful or important activities. They allow you to focus on the process, not the results – and sometimes, this is the key to winning.
Given these facts, it makes sense that routines are the best way to guarantee we accomplish what’s most important to us – not just some days, but every day. You don’t have to use high-energy assets, like your willpower or decision-making skills to make a routine happen. Once you’ve created your routine, the point is that eventually, it happens without you even having to think about it.
What is the Best Daily Routine?
Now that we have a solid foundation for what a routine is and how impactful creating daily ones can be, let’s look at some examples.
While it might be easy to assume that there’s one daily routine that’s the best, this is far from true. Every individual approaches their day differently, gets things done differently, and has different commitments throughout the day.
Finding the best daily routine should be a practice in finding the best one for YOU.
So where do you start?
If you don’t currently have any type of daily routine, it’s time to start creating one!
The best way to start is to start small and work your way up. For example, starting with a simple morning routine can help you gain momentum and guarantee that you start the day right.
As Aristotle once said,
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
So to help you get your brainstorming juices flowing for figuring out what the best daily routine is for YOU, I reached out to a several successful business owners and asked them about their favorite daily routine.
Here’s what they had to say…
Heidi DeCoux, Founder of Illuminated Life School
Heidi shared her morning routine with me, and here’s how it goes…
1. Wake up and Journal
Heidi describes the first 20 minutes of her day as her time to wake up and journal.
She keeps a journal and pen on her nightstand for easy access, and she dives right in with writing out the following:
- 5 Things she’s grateful for: this helps her set the tone for the day and puts her in a state of gratitude
- 10 Goals she’s working on right now (mix of business, health, personal, relationships, etc).
Heidi points out that she rewrites her 10 goals every single morning – even if some (or all) are the same from the day before.
She has read a lot of research that supports how rewriting your goals every day increases the likelihood of you accomplishing those goals.
Here’s a piece from Forbes that goes into the neuroscience of writing down your goals if you actually want to achieve them.
Heidi takes it a step further and chooses to write her goals down as if they’ve already been accomplished. This exercise in visioning helps train your brain to consider the situation in which the goal is already achieved.
Next up, Heidi’s focus is drinking a big glass of lemon water for hydration (she’ll make it a warm lemon water if it’s cold out).
She also adds a sprinkle of cayenne pepper to boost her metabolism and a couple drops of apple cider vinegar for alkaline.
Once hydrated, Heidi jumps into her workout, which she says varies based on the time she has available and how she’s feeling. Once thing she makes absolutely sure of: her workout has to be a minimum of 10 minutes long to get her body moving.
4. Bulletproof coffee
Heidi’s not alone in having a bulletproof coffee regimen, but she does tend to mix up the actual type of coffee she uses. She refers to it as her “butter coffee” (if you know the brand Bulletproof, then you’re very familiar).
Whether she’s using actual Bulletproof coffee grinds, or mushroom coffee from Four Sigmatic, she mixes in grass-fed ghee and adds sprinkles of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove to help get her metabolism and brain going.
Does it seem like Heidi is waiting an awful long time to get her caffeine fix in?
Interestingly enough, there is a lot of research out there that supports waiting to drink you morning cup of joe. Waiting at least an hour or even 90 minutes to have your coffee from the time you wake will actually give you a higher boost of energy and alertness than if you drink it right away.
5. Shower & get ready for the day
After her coffee it’s into the shower to get ready for the rest of her day.
Heidi makes it a habit to do 30 seconds – 1 min of cold water at the very end of her show, which helps with alertness, immunity, and provides a number of other health benefits. Check out this list of Cold Shower Benefits for Your Health to learn about each of them!
Once she’s dressed, Heidi is officially ready to tackle whatever the day brings her way!
Heidi DeCoux is on a mission to revolutionize schools with her life’s work: Illuminated Life School. The first school opens in Humacao, Puerto Rico in August of 2022. To learn more, visit IlluminatedLifeSchool.org!
Anne Stevenson, The Model Health Show
Anne runs a business with her husband, Shawn Stevenson, and much like me she does a lot of work behind the scenes. I was super excited to hear from her perspective which routines and habits help her work most efficiently throughout the day – especially knowing she also has a young son at home.
Anne’s big focus is the first hour of her day – before her son wakes up. This is her time to get grounded and set the right intention for what her day will look like.
Here’s what that hour looks like:
- Drink hot lemon water
- Read whatever book she’s currently on
- Read an affirmation to help ground herself spiritually
- Meditate with her husband – she noted that when they start the day together and on the same note it really helps amplify the day and what they’re looking to accomplish
- Goes through her to-do list for the day, focusing on the top 3 items she has to get done. These are the most challenging tasks on her list (she knows her focus and discipline are highest first thing in the morning)
If she doesn’t get to do a workout in the morning before her son wakes up, she makes it a point to get it in by midday.
She added that sometimes doing a workout around midday helps her gain more energy to power through the rest of the afternoon. Even if she just goes for a fast-paced walk, she always makes sure to get outside and move every day.
Anne also said that a huge part of keeping her productivity at a high level throughout the day is taking refresh breaks to help her reset between activities. She’s does a set break every hour.
And here’s why daily routines are so powerful:
Anne said that if she doesn’t get to do every one of these things within the first hour of her day, then she notices a significant difference in her productivity and focus levels throughout the day.
Whether it’s not being as focused or not feeling intentional about what she’s working on, getting her morning routine in is critical to the success of her day.
Anne Stevenson is passionate about creating a culture of health in your family. Be sure to tune in to The Model Health Show for tips on how to become the best version of yourself.
Lana Shlafer, Law of Attraction Coach & Mindset Expert
Lana is a great example for all you individuals out there who don’t like the idea of a routine.
Lana is not a routine person, but she loves productivity, and she recognizes the benefits of having a framework to help her get started strong each day.
As you’ll see in Lana’s morning routine below, she creates “elements” instead of a set of steps.
She shared with me that having elements allows her to determine what she needs most on any given morning to make sure her day is a great one.
First, Lana lays in bed and stretches out, and as she’s stretching she verbalizes what she’s grateful for. She’ll also take a couple of minutes to choose an affirmation for the day and say it out loud to herself.
Next, she’s hydrating with a big glass of lemon water with sea salt. Sometimes she’ll add a coffee or tea.
After that Lana takes time to check-in with herself.
She asks herself a very simple question:
“What do I need today?”
It might be that she needs inspiration, clarity, relaxation, family time, …
Once she has determined what it she needs, she looks at her morning practice as a buffet, and she simply pulls what she need most.
Her morning practice always consists of 3 elements:
- Centering / grounding – do some breath work, meditation, be in nature or listening to some ocean sounds. The goal is to drop into the body and into the now.
- Gratitude – focus on the things that she appreciates most, the things that she prayed for years ago that are now here. “To get what we want, we’ve got to want what we’ve got”, says Lana. So she practices celebrating what is already here that makes her life meaningful.
- Visioning / asking – what isn’t here yet that I want to experience? Lana is big on identifying what she most wants to create each day and then making sure her actions reflect this core priority. As an example, she’ll choose a word like “expansive” to represent how she wants to show up that day.
With her intention set for the day, Lana is ready to get moving! Sometimes she’ll have a dance party, do some sprints, jump up and down – any type of movement she’s feeling like to get her energy flowing.
Finally, Lana is ready to set her agenda for the day. She has set the tone for what matters most to her, and now it’s time to do it!
Lana ended by reminding me that anything more structured than having this framework and her fluid elements makes her feel limited in her creativity and productivity. But as you can see, she still has a practice that servers her well in making sure her day is set up for success.
“What I need to be most productive is for ME to feel like I’m in the zone, and this morning practice sets that up for me.”
Lana Shlafer’s goal is to help you get more our of your life! She’s the best-selling author of Manifest That Miracle, and you can grab a free copy of her book and learn more about her programs at LanaShlafer.com.
John Lee Dumas, Founder & Host of Entrepreneurs On Fire
John is one of the most productive, disciplined, focused individuals I know, so when it comes to a solid routine for making sure you’re getting the right things done efficiently, he’s your guy!
So I sat down with John and asked him to share his routine for productivity, discipline, and focus when it comes to business projects.
Here’s what he shared:
- I look at my to-do list,
- I identify the #1 biggest project I want to get done for the day,
- I set a 42 minute timer, press start, and then watch the first few seconds start ticking away so my brain knows it’s GO TIME!
- I use those 42 minutes to FULLY FOCUS on that #1 biggest project I want to get done for the day,
- When my 42 minutes are up, I set timer for 18 minutes and that’s my refresh – I step away and give my brain a break
- After my 18 minutes of refresh time, if I haven’t finished my #1 biggest project I want to get done for the day, then I set another 42 minute timer and I’ll continue doing this until that project is complete
All of this happens BEFORE moving on to any other tasks. This guarantees that my #1 biggest project of the day always get accomplished first, when my productivity, discipline, and focus are at their highest.
If this sounds like a routine you can get down with, then this exact format is inside The Mastery Journal.
The Mastery Journal is all about helping you make a habit of productivity, discipline, and focus, and each day The Mastery Journal will hold you accountable to following these steps.
Grab your copy today at TheMasteryJournal.com!
Krista Burns, Founder of the American Posture Institute
Krista is a posture expert and has done many studies around posture and how it affects our day-to-day – especially those of us who sit in front of a computer for long periods of time.
I’m excited to share what she sent me because she not only includes the most important aspects of her morning, but also provides a set of steps you can follow for posture and productivity throughout the day!
All of my most productive days begin with exercise! While running in nature I tap into my creative brain to explore business ideas and solve problems with a clear mind. While running in nature I focus on my long-term goals and my intention for the day.
After running I hit the gym. Lifting weights brings up my energy and I feel the exercise endorphins. After a great session in the gym I feel like I’ve already had a strong win for the day. I like to start my workday feeling strong and with a winning mindset, so I always workout in the morning.
When I get to my desk I stand the majority of the day and stay active with active sitting (sitting on an exercise ball). The recommended stand-to-sit ratio is 3:1. To maintain proper posture and high focus I perform a “Posture Break” every hour of my workday.
How to perform a Posture Break:
- Sit or stand up straight
- Extend your arms out to the sides with your arms straight and palms facing forward
- Press your chest forward
- Drop your head back
- Hold the position for 30 seconds
When you do this you’ll notice that you feel stretched out, you are sitting up straighter, and you can focus better going into the next hour of your workday. When you sit up tall you are more alert.
Set a posture reminder to remember to take a Posture Break for 30-seconds every hour of your workday.
This simple trick can help you increase your productivity right away.
Krista Burns is also a TedX Speaker & Author of The Posture Principles. The American Posture Institute helps healthcare providers become the Go-To Posture Expert in their community.
How Can I Write My Daily Routine?
Now that you have several specific examples of successful business owners’ best daily routines, let’s look at this from a more systematic approach.
How do you document your routines so you can revisit them every day?
The examples shared above are all ways you can write your daily routines from a format perspective.
It can be a simple list of bullet points, a checklist, or in a paragraph format.
In terms of where or how this is done might vary – again, the best way is the way that’s best for YOU.
For example, you might have a journal you like to write stuff down in, and so you use a page in your journal to document the steps you’ll take.
Other platforms or ways you might record your daily routines include:
- Digitally, in your task or project management software (I use Asana and Workflowy)
- On paper, so you can pin it up and easily revisit what you’re looking to accomplish
- Via a print out – so maybe you record it online, but then print out a copy to have at your fingertips
- On a calendar – actually schedule the time!
My Evening Routine Written Out in Workflowy
Whatever method you use to record your routines, making a schedule of the things you want to accomplish – plus how long each will take you – will be incredibly helpful in actually implementing it.
As you test different things out and discover what works best for you, remember there is no one size fits all.
What Should Be Included in a Daily Routine?
Hopefully by now you feel the examples shared here have given you a good idea of what should be included, generally speaking.
However, not all routines have to be work-related or based on what you do first in the morning. There are plenty other examples of routines that can help you be most productive in both business and in life.
Here are several descriptions of how you might go about creating your own routines to help serve you throughout your day.
Start Your Day Off Right (A Morning Routine)
Whatever you decide to include in your morning routine, actually write it down.
Including things in your morning routine that are essential to you feeling great, and to making sure your day starts off right, is a great place to start.
For example, why not start super simple and small by adding “make your bed” to the list?
It’s the first thing I do every morning, and it helps build strong momentum for the rest of my day because without having to exert much energy, I’ve already accomplished something immediately after waking up.
Another thing that helps build momentum early in the day?
Getting in a workout.
I do a workout every morning – this is a huge priority for me. it’s essential to me feeling great, and I know that if my day starts out with a workout, then I’ll have increased energy and focus to help me get more done throughout the day.
Another great thing to practice every day is some type of breathing or meditation. You might set aside 20 minutes each morning to just be. Whether you use this time to prepare for the day, get centered, or to make sure you have that time to just be, actually schedule it.
A Work Routine
Whether you go into an office and report to a boss, or you work from home, having a routine you follow when it comes to getting work done can help you avoid stress, overwhelm, and prevent burnout.
An example might be the set of steps you follow first thing in the morning so your day flows smoothly and you’re never having to guess as to what you should work on next (which can be a huge waste of time!)
I call this my morning sweep.
In this episode I break down my full morning sweep.
But beyond the overarching parts of your workday, there might also be areas of your work that having a set of steps to follow would be helpful for.
Take social media, or your email inbox as examples. If you knew that every time you go onto Facebook, or every time you open your inbox that you have an airtight strategy for how to make the most of your time and get the best results, wouldn’t you want to use it?
A quick example I’ll share for Facebook is something I practice every day. It’s simple and incredibly effective.
- I have my Facebook Profile plus the 5 Facebook Groups I’m an active member or moderator of saved in my bookmarks bar.
- I go directly to these pages, check for new posts I haven’t responded to yet, and provide value for 5 straight minutes (sometimes 10 depending on the group)
- Every time I comment on a post, I “like” the post. This helps me identify which posts I’ve already commented on, and which ones I haven’t
- Because I’ve set a timer for each of the areas I visit on Facebook, I know exactly when it’s time to move on
This simple set of steps – or micro-routine – helps me avoid wasting time and ensures maximum productivity on a platform that is really important to my business. By staying out of the newsfeed with my direct bookmarks to the pages that are most important, I’m able to get in, provide massive value, and then get out.
A Relaxation Routine (Transitions in Your Day)
Who doesn’t need a little help transition from their workday into a relaxing evening with their family and loved ones?
This is a common struggle, especially for those individuals who deal with a high-stress job or run their own business. It can be hard to simply “turn it off” sometimes, and so having a relaxation routine that helps you transition from your workday into your home life is important.
I call this my “shut it down” flow, and with a simple set of steps I can close out my workday strong and start enjoying home time.
In this episode I break down my entire “shut it down” workflow, which also includes preparing for the next day.
This could even extend all the way to when you go to bed, making it a great way to close your day strong. Sleep is SO IMPORTANT!
A Meal Prep Routine
Wouldn’t it be nice to have something in place that helps ensure you’re getting great energy and nutrients from the food you eat – without spending hours in the kitchen?!
A meal prep routine can help you do just that, and my favorite kind is the weekly meal prep batch.
So what does that look like?
Each week I plan a trip to the grocery store. It’s the one trip I make, and I always have a list with me so I make sure I get everything I need. Return trips to the store can be such a time waster!
Once my grocery store trip is complete, I set aside 2-3 hours for my meal prep batch. During this time I chop up all the fresh food I bought, and I make sure any items that need to be separated and frozen for later use are taken care of.
Then, I cook everything and divide it into Tupperware containers for quick and easy meals throughout the week.
This not only makes meal time super convenient, but it also ensures you’re getting great energy and nutrients from the food you’re consuming (no more last-minute binge meals that leave you feeling over-stuffed and ready for a nap!)
A Family Time Routine
Have a goal of spending more quality time with your family?
It’s a sad but true reality: sometimes entire days go by without a solid block of time spent with the people we love the most.
It’s time to change that!
Remember, anything that’s critically important to you can be accomplished with routines.
A good way to start this for family time is to pick a time during the day when you know all members of your family are available.
Next, think about an activity you can schedule, like a sunset walk, or a board game.
Then, communicate! Be sure everyone in your family knows the day, time, and place to meet. This is just one example of how simple – and rewarding – your routines can be.
Checking in on Your Daily Routines
Routines aren’t meant to restrict you, they’re meant to set you free and guarantee the most important stuff in your daily life gets accomplished without you having to expend extra bandwidth or willpower to make it so.
While routines are oftentimes misperceived as the cause for limiting creativity or preventing you from being spontaneous, they’re actually the opposite.
Routines simply help you accomplish things throughout your day without even really having to think about it. Your actions in a specific area become such second-nature that you don’t even have to think about them, like waking up and immediately making your bed, or brushing your teeth.
Routines are especially important when motivation or willpower might be low. Instead of having to decide whether you’re going to workout or not, you just put on your gym shorts and workout because it’s a part of your routine.
Or instead of deciding whether to accomplish your #1 biggest work project for the day right now versus maybe getting to it later, you dive straight in because that’s what you’ve established.
It’s time to take control of your energy and productivity levels, and today is a perfect day to start!