“I’ve been thinking about taking up a meditation practice.”
“I really need to drink more water…”
“I feel so good when I exercise, I want to go to the gym more often, but can’t find the time!”
If you’re like most people you probably have considered starting a new daily routine to optimize one or more aspects of your life. In a world where time has become more and more valuable, distractions are at an all time high, and to-do lists are as long as ever – people are looking for ways to better themselves. One of the most common ways that folks use to make a change is by adopting a new routine.
Routines are actions or a combination of actions that yield a specific outcome or result.
They are the surest way to make an impactful change in our lives. By the end of this article you will be familiar with the 3 key steps to consider if you want to start an effective daily routine!
“Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition.” -W.H. Auden
Step 1: Keep the end result in mind.
As humans we have hundreds of little routines we practice each day. Most of these we don’t care to or need to focus on, they simply happen. Adopting a new routine is usually in pursuit of something new that we wish to attain. The benefit of successfully completing the routines could improve us physically, mentally, or emotionally.
Make sure to keep the end result in mind as you select your routine.This life changing benefit will keep you motivated and excited to stick with your routine!
Some common results people shoot for with their routine include:
- Decreased stress
- Increased energy
- Better sleep
- Improved mental clarity
- More time
- Better performance at school/work/sport
Routines to achieve these outcomes might look like:
- Take 10 deep breaths before beginning a new project at work.
- Exercise at least three times each week.
- Turn my phone to airplane mode 1 hour before bed.
- Make a list dividing each job into its constituent parts.
- Plan out my daily schedule every morning while I drink my coffee.
- Visualize what a successful outcome would look like for my upcoming event.
rou·tine . ro͞oˈtēn / noun
- a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program.
Routines are most effective when practiced daily. Sometimes we need to focus extra hard on following through with a new routine until it becomes a habit. This is an important factor to consider in both the selection and implementation of your new routine.
Dr. BJ Fogg, a behavioral scientist from Stanford, has a basic behavioral model he uses to describe the steps to change. He claims that in order for a behavior change to happen you need to have the right mix of motivation, ability, and a trigger.
If we are highly motivated to complete a task then the odds are that when a trigger occurs we will produce a successful outcome. Likewise we tend to be successful at tasks that are easy to complete even if we are not so motivated to get them done.
Makes sense right?
The challenge many of us face is that we fail to set up routines that take into account the motivation required to complete a task requiring a higher level of ability. We shoot for the stars and quickly burn out after our initial gusto wears off.
Does this mean that we shouldn’t aim to make big dramatic change with our new routine?
Kind of…not exactly…but yes.
At least Dr. Fogg would advise against it. Instead he suggest focusing on the smallest possible change available to you in your new routine. Consistency wins the long term change game so you should pick a routine that you know you you can complete every single try. This will generate momentum and a new skill that you can apply later to more challenging target areas.
Action Step: Get out a pen and paper and spend 5 minutes brainstorming some ideas of areas you would like to implement a routine. Think about the end result you would like to achieve and make note of the top 2 or 3 new routines that would be a first step on the path. Then let’s move on to step 2!
Step 2: Determine the lay of the land
This is a chance to take inventory of your assets and keep an eye out for potential pitfalls. Implementing a new behavior is challenging because it requires knocking our brain off of autopilot. Rather than coast through our day following the usual agenda we are throwing a strategic interruption to our thought pattern that lets us try something new. This step can be split into two categories:
Supporting Factors, things that can help you implement your routine. Some examples could be:
- A supportive partner or best friend
- A commute to work that offers some alone time
- Sticky note reminders you place all over your house
- A trainer, coach, or mentor who wants you to succeed
Distracting Factors, barriers, or common faults that would get in the way of you completing your daily routine. This might look like:
- Social settings where you may feel awkward practicing your new routine.
- People who interrupt you and take up your time (EVEN IF YOU YOU LOVE THEM)
- Physical struggles with things like exercise or waking up early.
- Bad influences on your diet, behaviors, or actions.
Action Step: List the top 3 assets you have that could help you start your routine and then the top 3 distractions that may keep you from succeeding. For the distractions, find a solution for how you could overcome it (eg. Coordinate workout schedules with a friend, sIgn up for a class the night before, or prep healthy lunches for the week on Sunday afternoon)
Step 3: Track Your Progress
Benjamin Franklin, perhaps the founding father of using routines for personal development knew the importance of tracking and measuring his daily practices. Each morning Franklin asked himself, “What good shall I do today? And in the evening, “What good did I do today?” Taking the time twice each day to check in on his progress created more opportunities for growth and self-improvement.
Not only that but Ben cycled through a list of 13 virtues he chose to improve his morality. He would focus on one for a week at a time and document any infractions to the redeeming quality. He noticed significant improvement in his adherence cycling through each virtue four times a year.
As you prepare to start your new routine you want to keep track of your progress. Having clear defined parameters will make you more likely to succeed and recreate the process again for future habits.
Action Step: Make a plan to track your progress. What is the the key aspect of the routine are you measuring. What time of day will you log your results? Are you writing it in a notebook or on your phone or laptop? What will you write on days when you forget to adhere to your routine?
“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.”– Archilochos
So now that you have the 3 key steps to starting an effective daily routine how are you going to implement them?
We’d love to hear about it!
CROSSFIT VU – STRONGER TOGETHER
4 Hacks to a better night’s sleep
Hey there motivated individual! I have a new challenge for you. Guess what? It’s harder than any whole-food-eating, gallon-of-water-drinking, couch-to-5k challenge you’ve ever tried.
Not only that, but if you complete it successfully I promise you’ll never want to stop.
That’s why I’m challenging you to 1 month of restful nights sleep!
So why is that so hard? Because for some reason our culture idolizes the overworked, overtired, puffy eyed stories of grinding day in and day out with insufficient sleep. We seem to overvalue sacrifice and undervalue our bodies. Not only that, but I think we all forget what it feels like to operate as our 100% rested and ready to go selves. I promise that if you invest in your rest you’ll never want to go without it again.
Let’s dig in to some techniques to help us prepare for an awesome night’s sleep!
- Optimize Your Environment
Do more of this:
- Make it dark
Our bodies sleep cycle is regulated by a hormone called Melatonin, produced in the Pineal gland. Melatonin is released as the day grows dark and tells our bodies to begin shutting down. Any exposure of our bodies to light will reduce the release of Melatonin and could potentially disrupt the sleep cycle. Try blackout curtains, removing any sources of light in the bedroom, or even a sleep mask to really turn out the lights!
- Turn down the thermostat
As drowsy as it makes us to sit by the fire, it actually isn’t ideal to be in a hot environment for a good night’s rest. According to Dr. Peter Attia, “the lowering of our body temperature at night is a cue for our brains that it’s time to go to sleep and increases the proportion of time we’re in delta-wave (translation: deep) sleep.” So what’s the ideal temperature? Most studies show that 68 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal for sleep.
Don’t do that!:
- Checking email before bed
Technology and sleep appear to be mortal enemies. A very “neither can live while the other survives,” Harry Potter/Lord Voldemort type of scenario. Staring at a screen make our bodies think we still need to be alert, active, and ready for action. AKA not drowsy, calm, or relaxed. Best practice: No screens in the bedroom. Turn off phones, computers, and television 30-60 minutes before bedtime to let your body know it’s time to shut down.
- Smart Consumption
Do more of this:
- Eat protein before bed.
To ensure a restful night of sleep it is important to be aware of how we’re fueling our bodies throughout the day.Some studies have shown that eating a high protein snack before bed
resulted in significantly fewer wake episodes compared to carbohydrate based snacks or a placebo. Try a protein shake, a late night omelette, or some greek yogurt and peanut butter to fuel your slumber.
Don’t do that!:
- Drink coffee after 12pm.
Caffeine can have seriously disrupting effects on your sleep.Try to avoid alcohol, tea, and any beverages that alter your state, dehydrate, or have you running to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
- Develop a Routine:
Do more of this:
- Set a bedtime alarm.
We are creatures of habit and our routines have a profound effect on how our bodies behave. By scheduling out a bedtime routine each night our bodies will be primed for a great night of sleep. Try setting a bedtime alarm 8 or 9 hours before you wish to wake up. This is the cue to start your bedtime routine. Put your cellphone away, take care of your bathroom business, and settle down in bed with a fictional book or a journal to reflect on your day.
Pro tip: If you have pet get them in a routine that helps you stay on track!
Don’t do that!:
- Wait until you’re tired.
Consistency is king when it comes to a good night’s sleep. If you want to wake up rested you have to exercise the discipline to shut down at a reasonable hour each night. Whether it’s turning off the TV or signing out of work emails, it has to be an active choice. If you continue to stimulate your mind, it won’t be able to recognize that it has to shut down for the night.
- Use your physiology to unwind
Do more of this:
- Stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system
Our bodies respond to the environment and are always in one of two modes.
- Sympathetic aka “Fight or Flight”
- Parasympathetic aka “Rest and Digest”
We can hack our parasympathetic nervous system to initiate the healing benefits of our rest and digest state. Try taking a hot bath before bed, gently massaging or foam rolling your muscles, or practicing long slow deep breathing.
Don’t do that!:
- Strenuous Exercise
Exercise is incredible and will often help promote a deeper sleep. However don’t try to squeeze your workout in too close to bedtime. Training will ramp up your bodies Fight or Flight response and it may take some time to wind down after the fact. Try to wrap up your workout 2 hours before bed and you’ll be sleeping like a baby in no time.
SCHEDULE YOUR FREE CONSULT WITH US HEEERRREEEE and let us help you with all kinds of healthy hacks!