Do you have a daily routine? Even if you cringe at the idea of a strict schedule and celebrate spontaneity, odds are you're still engaging in some kind of routine. However, a routine can be more than just your typical work duties or at-home responsibilities.
The art of routine involves forming good habits over time that can boost your productivity, support your health, and overall improve your life. Both our minds and our bodies are keyed into our daily lives and can benefit from a successful, healthy routine. Let's learn why.
Sleep schedule. The first step in creating a routine is to set a sleep schedule. This is one thing that is (hopefully) within your control. The amount of sleep we get can affect so many things from our mental and physical health to our emotional well-being. If you want to stay at the top of your game as a lawyer, always make time for sleep. Aim to get between 7 and 9 hours each night. Your body will thank you.
If falling asleep at night is a struggle, consider implementing "wind down time" into your routine. Looking at screens before bedtime can trick our brains with its light, disrupting the melatonin hormones that help us drift off to sleep. Substitute your phone with a good book, a hot bath, or a little bit of bedtime meditation.
Meal plans. Another step that should be within your control is what time you eat. You should be eating three healthy meals a day spaced apart by about four to five hours. Skipping meals (especially breakfast, which is meant to give you energy to tackle the day) can have an adverse effect on your mental health and even your weight. It can lead you to snack more or overeat at dinnertime. You should be sitting down three times a day, enjoying the break, and truly savoring your food. Don't rush it or eat on the go if you can help it. Enjoying your meal will aid in digestion and lift your spirits.
A successful mealtime routine should leave you with a constant flow of energy to tackle the day. To learn more, check out this article about the best times to eat from Northwestern Medicine.
Other healthy habits for stress reduction. Having a regular routine can naturally lower stress and anxiety levels because familiarity brings comfort. On top of that, there are other activities you can introduce to your routine to further improve your health. Set aside time for exercise, socialization, tidying up, self-care, or your favorite hobbies. Of course, there's only so much time in a day--but you can make an effort to weave these activities into the week, or the month, depending on how busy you are.
Consider waking up a little earlier to squeeze in some gym time, a morning walk, or a quick yoga session before work. Or leave a time slot at the end of your day to wind down with relaxing music, quality time spent with loved ones, or your favorite face mask and scented candle combo. Self-care is important! You only get one body so take good care of it.
Boost your productivity. Routines don't only offer health benefits, but they can help you make the most of your time. Most likely, you're well aware of what time of day you do your best work. Early morning, late morning, afternoon--whatever it is, block those hours off and devote them to work. Put your toughest tasks when you know your mind will be sharpest. Save the easier stuff for when the coffee has yet to kick in or when the day has begun to wear on you.
By maximizing your time and performing at your full potential, you may find yourself achieving goals at a swifter rate. You might also find yourself with a little bit of extra time to devote to whatever you'd like!
Create task lists. There's nothing quite like that mini rush of dopamine that hits when you check something off your list! Stay organized by creating lists of tasks either on paper or with the help of an app. Try to complete daily tasks at the same time each day. For example, responding to client emails can be something you cross off your list first thing in the morning. With time, these daily tasks will transform into habits and contribute very little stress to your life.
Reward yourself. Life is an anticipation! Don't let your routine be nothing but hard work and chores. Intersperse rewards and things to look forward to throughout your days. It can be a big family vacation, a game night with friends, a trip to that new restaurant in town, or something as simple as a new episode of a TV show paired with your favorite beverage. Write it on your calendar and give it a big red circle or a gold star. Looking forward to the high points can help you power through the low points of your day. After all, you deserve good things!
Experiment with what works for you. There's nothing that says you need to nail this on your first shot. Molding an effective, personal schedule is something that takes time. Don't try to completely overhaul your entire life because that's a recipe for failure. Routines have many moving parts. If you're looking to incorporate one, then change one thing at a time. If your sleep schedule is in desperate need of improvement, start by adjusting that little by little. Or if you're aiming to make positive dietary changes, start off by adding a fruit or vegetable to each meal.
These are just a few examples. Contemplate what plan might work best for you and remember that different approaches work for different people.
Break the routine! Yes, routines are proven to be good for our mental health...but sometimes, breaking away from that routine can be good for you, too! If you're feeling burnt out or trapped in a cycle, it's time for a change in view. Take a vacation or some time off to rest and recharge. Your impressive routine will be there when you return.
Don't forget to make PBI part of YOUR routine! We're here to make compliance stress-free. Our on-demand CLE can fit into your schedule anytime and anywhere you need it. Subscribe to ProPass for unlimited access to our complete library or check out what's coming up on our schedule of live events!