Reclaim Your Routines By Making Them Easier To Do
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
(Although frequently credited to Aristotle)
Read any number of books on how to be successful, and at some point, the author will mention the impact some habit or routine had on their upward professional or personal trajectory. Lots of books have even been written on the topic of routines, and my personal favorite is The Slight Edge.
Over the years I've found that a key to making a routine stick is that it has to be easy. I know my intrinsic desire to improve should be compelling me to push through all the barriers (and it does help), but what keeps me going is if I can engage in it without having to work so hard to make it happen.
If you're struggling with getting a routine to remain a consistent part of your day or your week, try these three ideas to reduce the physical or mental barrier to engaging in them:
Have the routine in the same place in your calendar each day or each week.
When you make the routine a moving target, your mind finds lots of other things for you to do. When it holds the same place on your schedule, you build other activities around it. A really small routine that happens at the same time each day for me is doing fifteen push ups while my coffee is brewing.
Improve the availability of resources to engage in the routine.
A common work/life routine I hear people say is that they want to improve their diet, and the place they want to start is with the evening meal. However, trying to plan a healthier meal when you are driving home from work (and mentally exhausted), rarely ends well. It's just too easy to grab something on the way home. A better approach is to carve out some time during the weekend (when you have more time and energy) to plan your meals for the week.
Make it easy for your mind to engage in the routine.
When coaching managers, I often hear that they want to have better conversations with their team members but aren't sure how to engage them. I encourage them to come up with two or three questions they can ask them on a consistent basis (like "Tell me a win you had today.") Armed with these questions they can easily jump into and out of conversations throughout the day. An added bonus is that the person they are talking to starts getting conditioned to answer these questions even before they are asked, making it easier for them to share their answers!
In his book, The Slight Edge, Olsen writes, "You don't need more 'How tos.' You need something to make the 'How tos' work for you." To me, making a routine easier to do is the key.
What routine do you need to make easier for you so it gets done more often?