Juan R Labrada

Save time and strees by creating routines

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90% of your daily activities are a result of habits. There is a reason for this; your brain couldn’t cope with all the thoughts and decisions needed if we had to do everything from scratch. From the time you get out of bed, to the way you get dressed and what you have for breakfast; all of these are normally a result of habits. A group of habits strung together becomes a routine e.g. I get up in the morning, shower, brush my teeth, get dressed, meditate, get breakfast and enjoy a cup of tea/coffee before I turn on my computer. This routine helps to ease me into the day. I don’t have to use too much mental energy while my brain is waking up and because I don’t have to stop to think so, I save a great deal of time.

One of the biggest wastes of time is sitting there trying to figure what you should be doing and in what order. Plus if you let it, even the simplest task will take hours. So, if you regularly have to repeat the same work, wouldn’t it make more sense to create routines for getting it done. You can even have a checklist for these tasks so that you can ensure that you don’t miss any important steps.

You create a routine or a schedule and you stick to it. No more worrying about what to do. You just get it done and after a while it will be on autopilot.

1. The morning routine

A morning routine helps you to get out of bed and ease your way into the day. Your body and mind can ease themselves into the day because you have removed the stress of having to work out what you should be doing.

You can create any routine which you feel will help you. They may include things such as personal hygiene, breakfast, meditation, reading, exercise or, any other activity which helps you to start the day in the right manner.

2. The pre-bed routine

By having a routine before you go to bed, you help your body and mind to unwind and prepare for sleep. Because it is a routine which you use every day; as soon as you start the routine, you signal to your body and mind that you are preparing for sleep. This way, by the time you climb into bed, you have advanced further in the process of falling asleep.

The pre-bed routine may include things such as reading, personal hygiene, turning off digital devices, meditation, prayer or any other activities which help you wind down and progress towards a restful sleep.

3. Accounting

One of the pitfalls of having to maintain a business, personal or family budget is that you have to keep a regular account of income and expenditure. Unless you are an accountant, you are unlikely to enjoy this process.

However, if you create a routine for maintaining your accounts, this becomes a lot less stressful and a lot quicker to complete.

4. Post

I get a lot of post and I used to have a very bad habit of just throwing it on my desk to deal with later. It could build up for a few days or even a week and I would fall behind with the things I was supposed to be doing. Some of the post would get lost under documents and books and things became a nightmare.

Now, I bring the post to my desk where I have both a bin and a shredder. I open each item and apply the following routine:

  • If it is not important or confidential, it goes in the bin.
  • If it is not important but is confidential, I shred it
  • If it needs to be kept for reference, I file it immediately
  • If it requires action which can be done in a couple of minutes, I deal with it immediately
  • If it requires action which takes longer, I add it to my tasks list and file it in the appropriate place
  • If it is actually for my father (we have the same rare name) I set it aside to deliver to him later

It only takes 10-20 minutes to do this but it results in a tidier desk, better organisation and a lighter workload.

5. My in-tray

When new jobs and tasks arrive during the week, I generally make a note or print it out and place it in my in-tray; which I process once per day. This means I am not getting distracted by every new job which comes in.

When I process my in-tray, I follow a very similar routine to how I deal with my post. One item at a time:

  • I identify what it is
  • I determine if it requires action
  • If it doesn’t require action, I bin it, shred it or file it as appropriate
  • If it requires action which can be done in a couple of minutes, I deal with it immediately
  • If it requires action which takes longer, I determine whether I am the right person to do itef
  • If I am not the right person to do it, I reassign it to the appropriate person
  • If I am the right person to do it, I either place it on my tasks list or, if it is time specific, I add it to my calendar
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