Everyone wants to become the best version of themselves. But why do so few actually do it? Well, many people spend a lot of time thinking and talking about their goals. But as you know, thinking and talking aren't going to cut it.
You've got to take definite action to make those goals happen.
Action is everything. And if you want to become the best version of yourself, you and I know there's no going around a good daily routine. After all, success and goal attainment starts with the stuff you do day in and day out.
The science of creating routines and habit formation
Habits play an important role in getting what we want in life. At least if we deliberately align them with our goals.
But before you can form any habits that can improve your life, you must first establish a daily routine and stick to it.
Routines develop habits. And you can't pass them up if you want to accomplish lasting change. Think about it for a second; it's pretty hard to adopt a new habit without first setting up the underlying routines.
You can't always rely solely on luck. You must establish the proper routines and stick to them like glue for as long as you need.
Habits are automatic
A habit can be a deliberate (sometimes difficult) choice. But only for a time. The best part about habits is that we eventually stop thinking about them, even if we keep doing them every day.
The more we perform a habit, the less effort it takes to do.
Research shows that habits are nothing more than automated responses to specific cues. Still, they can make all the difference between success and failure. It's a good thing habits don't take too much mental effort to perform. Routines, on the other hand, do.
Routines are deliberate
Unlike habits, routines aren't automatic. They need you to be intentional and use brain power. You'll need to make conscious decisions when performing routines.
Maybe you've decided to lay off your social media accounts at bedtime. Or perhaps you're trying to cram that extra 30 hours of work during the week. These new behaviors require deliberate effort at first.
Deliberate routines eventually become automatic habits
Here's what makes a daily routine worth it: they become automatic habits over time, helping form who you are as a person.
Without deliberately incorporating routines into your daily life, it's going to be almost impossible to cultivate the proper habits that give you the edge you need.
A daily routine also helps stave off procrastination. Just imagine you powering through your daily tasks without hesitation or procrastination - self discipline flowing through your veins.
It also lets you focus on the most important things in life. Since routines are intentional, they're more likely to be aimed toward a bigger picture.
Starting an effective routine means getting down into details. I'm talking about a daily schedule, weekly schedule, or any kind of to do list that prompts you to get things done.
What's so important about a daily schedule?
According to a study, you're more likely to achieve your goals if you put them down on paper. Writing down your goals helps you focus on what matters the most. It puts you in a better position to get as granular as you can with your daily schedule.
Effective routines start with a daily schedule. As dull as it sounds, the first thing you need to do is write a daily to-do list if you want to create the stability you need throughout the day.
A daily schedule can help you organize your important tasks, letting you get the most out of a single day or week. The experience of ticking off those tasks one by one also keeps you motivated and on track.
How do I create a robust daily schedule?
1. Write everything in the morning
Now for you, it could be during the evening before going to sleep. No matter what time you start your day, be proactive and write every task you need to do.
You don't have to limit yourself to just your essential tasks for the day. You can get as comprehensive as you can, even if you have to include something as menial as cleaning your dirty dishes in the evening.
2. Make your daily goals S.M.A.R.T.
If you want each day to have a clear direction, avoid jotting bland, boring-sounding goals. Since you're already setting routines that you're likely to perform each day, why not begin writing them down in a concrete and specific way?
SMART goals are tied to something specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-limited (S.M.A.R.T.). Turning your to-dos SMART might as well be your ticket to daily success that piles up over time.
Consider this example; instead of writing down "make more phone calls," reword that into something like "Get my paperwork done in the morning so that when I sit down at 1 pm, nothing will distract me from making more phone calls until 3."
The second statement is specific and realistic, even stating how much time it's going to take. With SMART goals, you get a clear idea of what you want to accomplish.
3. Start with important tasks (most of the time)
Once you're done writing your tasks for the day, you can start prioritizing them based on importance or urgency. Highlight your most essential tasks. You can even put a number to them based on importance.
Most likely, these are going to be repeated daily priorities. Now while it's best to tackle an important task first, not all routines are built that way.
Say you want to incorporate an hour-long brisk walk into your morning routine. That might not be the most important task for the day, but you'll want to get that over with first thing in the morning.
4. Break large projects into manageable chunks
Your daily schedule will surely comprise different tasks with varying difficulties. But the last thing you want is to have your to-do list filled with overwhelming projects that you're likely going to carry over into the next day (or week).
You wouldn't have this problem when you write "SMART" to-do's since you're tying them to a realistic outcome. For example, one of your priority tasks for the day might be to "write a long-form blog article to complement the latest product release."
If you have a lot on your daily schedule, odds are, you wouldn't finish that task within a day. But you can always break that task down into smaller, bite-sized chunks.
So instead of writing "finish a long blog article," you can write multiple but manageable tasks that won't drain your mental energy. Your to-do list that day may include "identify keyword intent," "create a blog outline," and "write the first few thousand words."
5. Keep your big picture target in mind
Your short-term goals, or as we keep calling them, your "daily schedule," are only a means to an end. Your small wins will eventually compound into massive growth, leading to long-term goal attainment.
Long-term goals can't be accomplished within a day, week, or month. Still, they strengthen your purpose enough for you to stick to your daily routine.
Your daily and weekly tasks can directly reflect the overarching goals you're trying to achieve. Ensure that, apart from focusing on your daily schedule, you're keeping your big picture target in front of mind.
Aside from writing a daily schedule, it would help if you spend time writing a weekly schedule or even a monthly one.
At GoalsWon, we let our clients write down their daily, weekly, and monthly objectives. This way, we can offer the proper accountability our clients will need to ensure success.
Ready to transform your life?
We'll keep you on track to your goals through tailored tactics and daily feedback.
What are some great routine examples for your daily schedule?
Excellent habits eventually catapult you to your "point B." But they all start with well-planned and calculated routines. Now, different people have different goals. But have you ever noticed that those killing it with results share a few familiar routines and habits?
Here are some good examples of routines that are going to help you stay on track, maintain your energy levels, and keep you motivated as you go all out with your day.
Make sure your daily routine starts in the morning
Everyone has different waking hours. But regardless of the time you get up, you'd want to make sure that that's when you begin your daily rituals. Think of it this way; you're setting yourself up for success right from the very start of your day.
92% of high-performance people perform early routines one way or another. Whether you prefer to go directly for your morning run or would first sit down and contemplate with a cup of coffee, make sure to jumpstart your brain with a routine in the morning.
Create time for exercise
Speaking of morning routines, this one's time-tested. Exercise promotes a ton of health benefits. We're talking about not just physical ones but mental and emotional ones as well.
If you're planning to increase your performance levels in any aspect of your life, always make time for exercise, even if you have to sneak it into your daily schedule.
Exercise boosts your energy levels, helping you fight fatigue. Even just 10 minutes of exercise a day can make a lot of difference. If you're serious about productivity, get yourself a daily dose of exercise.
Researchers from the Universities of East London and Westminster found that students who drank from a water bottle during exams scored between 5-10% higher than those who didn't. It turns out that the humble H2O is enough to turn your score from a C to an A.
There are numerous science-backed benefits of drinking water regularly (and not just when you feel like it), from boosting physical performance to increasing one's mental energies. It can even help you lose weight, according to this study.
If you're looking for a magic potion to enhance your physical and mental performance, look no further than your handy water bottle.
Here's one of the best productivity tips you can find. Ready for it? Sleep better. You'll need it if you want to function well throughout the day. When you get enough sleep, your mind is always sharper, and you get to enjoy higher energy levels.
Spending time figuring out how to get the right amount of sleep is essential if you want to remain productive. You want to make sure you're always getting your 7 - 8 hours in. Anything less can make it difficult for you to stay focused enough to complete your most important tasks.
Start crafting a healthy sleep routine that lets you wind down in a consistent way at a consistent time. Steer clear of screens before going to bed, and make sure you associate your bedroom with that all-important sleep.
Practice daily accountability
Accountability is probably as close as you have to a magic pill that ensures you remain on track. It can even help you exceed your daily or weekly routine stats. How? Well, we all know motivation doesn't last. That's just how the human brain works.
But really, it doesn't need to. Yes, motivation fuels you to get moving, but it's not the only thing that's going to get you to where you want to be.
When motivation's gone, you can rely on the habits you've developed from your daily routine. But if you're finding it hard to stick to a routine at first, accountability has your back. It's really just a fancy word for the decision you've made to live to a higher standard.
Six tips on how to stick to a new routine
Remember what I said about everyone wanting to become their ideal self? And how not everyone is able to do it? Well, there's one likely culprit.
I said it once; I'll say it twice: motivation doesn't last. And when it's gone, it becomes harder to stick to any worthwhile activity that needs focus and effort.
Thankfully, you don't have to stumble without motivation. Here are seven great strategies you can rely on to make sure you never miss any routine on your daily schedule. And you can absolutely pull these off no matter where you are in life right now.
1. Commit to just a few a minutes
You hear us say this all the time here at GoalsWon: habit formation isn't an overnight thing. It takes time to form a habit. Sometimes, lots of it. At first, you might exert more effort to make a routine work. Everyone has to start somewhere, and you can sure as heck start small.
So how small exactly? Ridiculously small. I'm talking about committing just a few minutes of your time to a particular task.
The difference it makes
Now, structuring your daily schedule into multiple micro time blocks may not sound impressive. And it's hard to brag about it to someone who clocks in 70-hour weeks.
But these may very well be the foundational routines that will support the unbreakable habits you'll build over time. Don't scoff at "just five minutes." Commit to it. Before long, that five minutes is going to turn into a five-hour-long focused and productive work.
2. Anchor routines into existing habits
We've heard it a lot: consistency is key. Routines are supposed to be just that, consistent. You'll have to do them every single day before the subconscious mind takes over, and they become easier to perform. You can ensure consistency by anchoring routines to existing habits.
The difference it makes
For example, you might have already established a routine that gets you to exercise every morning. Now, you want to set aside time for meditation afterward. You might need to set the alarm on your phone for the first few days to ensure you don't forget to do this task.
Now, the more you do this activity, the less you'll have to rely on your smartphone alarm. Eventually, you'll "anchor" the new routine into your existing habit (exercise in the morning). Meditation now becomes just another part of your daily schedule.
Here's the kicker; you can take this up a notch with chaining. Chained routines look something like this:
Run at 5:30 am -> meditate for 5 minutes -> make and eat breakfast -> review the daily schedule you wrote the night before.
3. Use implementation intentions
Anchoring routines and chaining them together can be a surefire way to turn routines into habits. But automated behaviors as they are, many things can still override routines and habits, even just for the moment.
Think of the last time you made a bad decision. Maybe you were so frustrated and decided to call it quits early instead of staying for an hour more to meet a deadline. Or perhaps that time when you've decided to skip your workout routine and came back to it a few weeks and a couple of beers later.
The difference it makes
There might be a good chance that you're not as logical with your decision-making as you like during those times. Human emotions can fluctuate dramatically, and sometimes, they can catch us off guard and ruin our decisions.
We need to prepare for these scenarios using a tactic called "implementation intentions." It's when we plan out pre-determined responses for scenarios that can hurt our momentum.
Here's an example; The next time you're frustrated at work, instead of giving in to your frustrations and abandoning your work, you'll take a short break instead, grabbing a coffee and getting back to your tasks once your mind settles down.
4. Learn to visualize
You'll hear a lot of successful folks attribute their accomplishments to visualization. It's when you create a vivid picture in your mind of the things you want to happen. The idea is that the more "real" and "visible" your mental image is, the more motivated you'll be to go after it.
The difference it makes
Visualization works better in some contexts than others, but the concept remains the same. The more we visualize a positive outcome, the more we see ourselves achieve that outcome.
This comes in handy when incorporating a routine into your daily schedule, even if that routine is daunting. Visualization is free fuel if you ask me. Think about it; you're more likely to go after a goal if you believe or even expect to achieve it.
High-performance athletes use this tactic all the time. They mentally rehearse scoring a lot of points and doing all these impressive feats, which ultimately, according to this study, enhances their performance during the game.
5. Keep track of your progress
"You can't manage what you can't measure," so the saying goes. But how important is it really when it comes to sticking to your routines? The American Heart Association tracked 1,042 adults over a year and found that people who weighed themselves only once a week or less didn't lose weight.
On the other hand, the people who weighed themselves six or seven times a week actually managed to trim their weight down.
The difference it makes
If you've ever finished a course, any course, chances are, it was broken down into chapters or mini-courses that get ticked off one by one as you complete them. Remember how you felt after completing a long, grueling chapter?
You check the outline and see that you're down to only a couple more lessons. Exhilarating, isn't it? I bet you're itching to get through the rest of the material.
Measuring how far we've come and seeing a good sign of progress provides a massive dopamine hit, which only prompts us to take more action.
6. Stay on track with accountability coaching
So you've finally started integrating the routines you want into your schedule. You began small, steadily increasing your level of intensity and focus over time. Now you're filled with excitement and enthusiasm, especially after seeing some measurable results.
Here's the problem; life doesn't run in a straight line. You'll undoubtedly encounter a lot of roadblocks. Remember what I said about how motivation comes and goes. Facing a challenge with no inspiration in sight is the natural killer of habits and routines.
The difference it makes
So who's going to hold you accountable for your commitments when you lack the fuel you think you need? Who'll count on you to stay on track when the going gets tough? That's where accountability comes in.
Yes, It's easy to find accountability partners these days, but there's no guarantee you can rely on them long-term.
It's a good thing you can always turn to accountability coaching. According to research, coaching outperforms peer-to-peer accountability or any other type of intervention when it comes to goal attainment.
GoalsWon bridges the gap between you and an accountability professional, so you always get the right nudge to keep on course.
We provide tools that help you create a powerful daily schedule while giving you access to a real-life expert human, ready to provide you with the feedback, support, and accountability you need.
Start using accountability to accomplish your daily schedule and get optimal productivity every day.