Daily Routine Schedule for Productivity and Happiness
How to manage your daily routine? You need a schedule that improves productivity. Ideally it also makes you as happy as possible.
How to accomplish that? Establish both physically and mentally healthy routines you follow every day.
Healthy daily routines you abide by also allow you to
- reduce stress
- stay on track
- be impactful
in your work and beyond. You can schedule most of your day to match your peak energy times e.g.
Technology Does Not Reduce the Workload
Did you know? Researchers found out that we shouldn’t work more than 4 hours a day! Why? Otherwise our productivity diminishes when we work more.
Sadly in corporate capitalism we are far from achieving this ideal. Despite technological progress many of us work more and longer hours in recent years.
- We’re “always on”
- never truly rest
- focus only for a few seconds
This way our attention is broken up into tiny bits. We can never truly accomplish much let alone deeply relax.
Modern technology by itself does not effectively reduce the overall workload. The opposite is often the case.
Despite automation being introduced gradually in more areas of expertise the amount of work does not truly diminish it seems.
Why is that? The way modern society is organized work is never done. The more we accomplish the more tasks appear out of nowhere.
It’s not only the teenagers who assemble your iPhones in a 80+h work week for the Chinese minimum wage or the CEO who is married to his work and never stops it.
It’s also you who sits in front of the screen all day.
You can’t work all the time for long. Burnout will sooner or later make you miserable or worse desperate. The more you try to work “harder, better, stronger” the faster you will run out of energy.
The day has only 24h and you need 8h of sleep. So how you you organize the remaining hours?
Time is Money. Do You Spend Time to Make Money for Others?
As time is money you will surely also notice that the more you work the less time you have for your family, friends or your other interests.
Personally I chose to be a freelancer to be able to plan my day myself. You have always some room to shuffle your responsibilities though.
It does not matter that much where you work or what your work consists of. It’s how you organize work an rest that matters.
It’s secondary whether you are a
- stay at home parent
- a full-time employee
- an entrepreneur
- a freelancer like me.
You can always improve your daily routine. Scheduling tasks is the prerequisite.
Why? Otherwise you just run errands all day and respond to the most pressing issues in a reactive manner. Who cries the most gets the attention, not the most important task.
It’s time to take responsibility of your life. Don’t let others dictate every minute of your day.
I struggled for many years. Now after more than 15 years of being a freelancer and more than 3 working full time I have found ways to improve productivity and happiness. Here they are!
Why Establishing a Routine for Improved Productivity Helps
Improving productivity with a daily routine both motivates and makes you more efficient. It also prevents you from becoming a robot only performing tasks for the sake of money.
Do you want my work to make you as happy as possible?
Acknowledge that family, friends and other “real” not just money interests are solely able to make you truly happy. Happiness comes from within. You choose it.
Meaningful work is part of a happy life. It can be only meaningful when you assign a meaning to it yourself.
By establishing a daily routine and using a particular schedule you help yourself becoming happy and productive at the same time.
Only when you love your work and your work makes you happy you will be truly productive. Otherwise you have to change your schedule one task at a time.
Example Daily Routine for Staying Productive and Happy
7AM: Wake up early! 7 or 8AM should be fine. Do not sleep until 10AM or later as your day will be messed up already. It was tough for me at first but I learned to get up in the morning.
When you have kids you have to wake up early anyway. Many freelancers work at night though.
Working at night is bad for your metabolism, eyes and even vitamin D intake which may result in depression.
Drink a glass of water, stretch and look outside. Let the sun shine on your face, the wind blow on it or the rain touch it. This may you ensure that you are alive.
7:15AM: Read a book or an inspiring magazine. Do not open screens until later on. Only check the weather. The notifications, likes, messages have to wait.
7:30AM: Prepare and eat a proper breakfast. “Coffee to go” does not truly energize you. The opposite is the case. Do you only have minutes and have to eat on the go? Eat an apple or energy bar instead.
I gave up caffeine after a few years. It made me miserable, experience regular migraines and brain fog.
Nowadays I eat hot porridge with lots of (dried) fruit on top of it (like 6 ingredients in total).
8AM: Meditate or do yoga. Your head is full of redundant, often negative thoughts that are a burden and drink your energy. By meditating you get rid of those.
Simply watch the thoughts appearing in your consciousness and realize they are not yours.
Most thoughts come from outside and are downright useless or harmful! Just drop them!
9AM: Work out. Ideally you train outside. Go for a jog or take your kids on a bike to school before work.
You need contact with yourself and your body.
You also need to relate to other human beings before starting to work, ideally the loved ones. Friends and neighbors are also good options.
Whoever you meet on the street – be friendly – as your mood brightens then. However you treat others, the same way you treat yourself.
10AM: Go to work or prepare work space. Walk or go by public transportation to your office. Look at the surroundings or read something to wake up.
When working from home ensure you have both some space for work where family life and other distractions do no hamper it.
10:30AM: Look up what your online friends are sharing. Start with general news or news not directly connected to your trade. Focus on the positive ones. Skip doom and gloom.
Researchers have found out, that you need to know what’s going on for a stable identity.
You know who you are by relating with others and being part of the bigger picture. Also for creative work you need inspiration. It is literally everywhere.
11AM: Start with the inspiring and easy tasks. For me this could be checking Web analytics, social media management, coming up with blogging ideas or updating existing content.
Do not start with checking and replying your emails or you will just run errands and respond top more message the rest of the day.
In case you really have to check messages first thing in the morning because you are very low in the hierarchy or it’s the main part of your role make sure to answer in batch and schedule actual tasks.
Do not just start with the very first email that shows up on top as if it were the most important one. Sort messages first and decide what is to be dome and when.
Ideally you check your messages once a day. Sort them accordingly to priority and which ones need a reply fast. Schedule the others as separate tasks.
11:30AM: Do something creative during your peak time. This could be blogging. On days where I do not write a blog entry, I lose motivation.
I guess that stats are boring for many of you or not easy to look at so you have to think about something that fits for yourself.
Reply only to those that need an immediate response and make it short, do not spend more than 30 minuets to do that. The rest of them must wait until they fit your schedule.
1PM: Eat a proper lunch. Ideally you go eat out in the sense of take a walk preferably. It’s very important that you take a walk as sitting at a desk all day is not very healthy as you can probably guess.
Preparing a lunch or cooking can be also very meditative and allowing your to get your head clear.
In case you don’t move a little at least once a day your body will retaliate. Read a newspaper before or after eating. Do not read industry news as your mind needs a break as well.
2PM: Now after you finished lunch start with the most difficult tasks. Those that need your attention most.
Try to perform those tasks for at least 2h in a row, better 3 or 4 with just standing up from time to time to move a little.
Some people might argue that it’s best done before lunch. Yes it does, depending on what type you are. You have to decide yourself.
5PM: Wind down. Do research on the Web for half an hour. Better engage in some social media activities, especially if you have no one else to talk with at your office.
Make sure not to talk about work for a few minutes at least.
Your brain needs a break! Stretch again, eat a snack! Start a conversation!
5:30PM: Run errands. Now, in the evening you can reply to your remaining emails, make the paper work and all the other boring and annoying stuff.
Some prefer to do it upfront in order not to have the burden in the back of their head. Once you’re annoyed creative work (like writing, designing or programming) will be harder though.
Creativity flourishes thanks to joy and gratitude and stops due to fear and anger.
6PM: Do something easy and rewarding. Share something funny or do something else that gives you a good feeling about the day.
What happens last is often the thing we will remember of the day, not what actually made up most of the time!
At least be friendly to someone: coworkers, family or random people on the street (a smile is often enough).
6:30PM: Take a walk! Move! Walk, cycle or at least walk to public transport.
Commuting by car is the worst, you can’t even meditate while at it.
Do it at the traffic lights then or when you are waiting in a traffic jam.
Things to Do Throughout the Day Whenever Possible
Eat and drink regularly. Researchers have found out that the body absorbs nutrients best when you have something like 6 to 8 meals a day.
Of course that’s too much to cope with so just eat and drink “all the time”, each time you sense appetite or thirst. I eat nuts and raisins, fruit, crackers with hummus between the actual meals.
Get up, stand up. Do not sit all the time. Move a little from time to time.
Stretch. Do some Yoga when possible (make time and room for it).
Switch off all the distractions like instant messengers to be able to focus on your actual, important and creative tasks. Answer your messages in batch once a day unless you work in customer service.
Does it Really Work for You?
Now you might ask: does it work for you? For me it works to some extent. It’s not perfect, but I’m not bankrupt or insane yet. Thus apparently it’s OK.
You can’t trick capitalism completely this way though. Of course you will be tired afterwards too. Sometimes you will try to improve your productivity by skipping
and similar “redundant” tasks. It doesn’t work. Literally. You’ll burn out after a while. You can’t live without having a body or companions.
“Get up, stand up. Do not sit all the time. Move a little from time to time.”
I remember when I got my first job as a programmer after I graduated, I made sure I did star jumps every 1 and half hours or so by my desk. People thought I was nutty lol. Obviously I don’t do it anymore though.
When I get fully immersed in a task I tend to forget to take any breaks away from the computer. I find this program is great for reminding me: http://www.workrave.org/welcome/
Thanks for sharing your routine with us.
david, the Chinese do it all day it occurs to me, some Tai Chi here, some Chi Gong there…
Thanks Sarah, it seems to be very useful piece of software as at the screen you tend to forget time altogether.
I agree with you about having a routine. When I follow mine, I can focus better and get more done without burning out. Remembering to eat is important as I find that I don’t get hungry when I’m intensely involved in work.
I wrote an article a week ago about tips for preventing blogger’s brainfreeze. I mentioned exercise and taking time away from the computer…that really upset a couple of readers.
I find it time saving to multitask, e.g. listen to audio books or returning phone calls while driving. Saves a lot of time, and this way I can compress more stuff into my schedule!
I think the Japanese employees do tai chi or something similar every morning before they start work! It’s actually really good for ones health.
Thanks for the great tips! I have always wondered where that urge to not work and surf the net first thing in the morning comes from. #4 answered that question.
Definitely getting up in the morning and engaging the body in a full wake up is important. Jogging, and walking the dog are good ways of waking up too!
kelly: Thanks for the tips. Please no deep links and for SEO only “names”. I edited it.
glad I went back thru the archives. I have found that exercise in the morning (along with getting up early) is really a great way to get the mind moving. I can think of work as I bike/run/hike and hit the computer with several tasks all planned out.
I’m so glad that your blog is not only about SEO, but also the Social Current Situation.
Expect your greater post.
I graduated from university 3 months ago and I have been looking for a job since then. I came to the conclusion that daily routine is very important issue while unemployed. But it also turned out to be challenging task, that’s why I started searching how people cope with it and I found this article – thanks for the useful information! :)
It is really important to continue developing yourself and be active in every sense even when not working or formally studying and having a daily routine definitely helps.