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Create your perfect healthy daily routine, one building block at a time.
You are what you do every day. But when was the last time you intentionally created your daily routine? A daily routine is great for building habits, making progress on goals, and minimizing the amount of decisions you have to make every day.
So grab your calendar and let’s start building your healthy daily routine!
Healthy Daily Routine Building Blocks
There are four key building blocks to a healthy daily routine. We’ll walk through each of them in order to begin creating your unique daily routine.
- When thinking about creating a healthy daily routine, I like to work backward. First, I start by identifying anything that is fixed and required in my schedule. For most people, this will look like a fixed workday.
- Even within your workday, identify anything that is fixed and scheduled- for example, regular recurring meetings.
- Make note of commute times. It is possible you can optimize a long work commute by adding in other activities as well.
- The next thing to look at is identifying and blocking out your sleep time.
- It can be tempting to compromise on this, but it is almost always not worth it.
- Think about how much time you need to sleep to feel your best. Usually, this is around 7-9 hours. Then think about when it is easiest for you to fall asleep. Pick an ideal bedtime that lets you get your needed amount of hours and block out that time on your schedule.
Core Personal Activities
- These are the activities that are high value to you that you want to make sure to incorporate into your daily routine. Typically these will have a mix of the following areas:
- Physical Activity – this could be going to the gym on a regular basis, yoga, walking every day, etc.
- Connection Activity – this could be spending time with your family, calling friends, spending time connecting with folks online, etc.
- Personal Growth Activity – this could be learning new skills, reading, writing, etc.
- Side Projects – if relevant, this is activities that support a side project that you are working on outside of your regular jobs. This could be planning a big event, a side business, a house project, etc.
- For each activity, decide if you want to commit to spending time on them on a daily or weekly basis. In either case, also decide about how much time they will take in your schedule. Be realistic with yourself here. You are much more likely to stick with 15 minutes of something every day than three-hour marathon sessions.
- You should now have a list that looks something like the following:
- Core Activities:
- Walking the dog – 20 minutes per day
- Yoga Class – 90 minutes, three times a week
- Cooking a fancy meal – 60 minutes, three times a week
- Meditate- 20 minutes per day
- Go back to your calendar and start to slot in your core personal activities. For most people, it helps when you can get into a regular routine with these. So for example, you might want to try to walk your dog at the same time every day. This eliminates having to stress or think about what you want to do – you just know what you need to do and when.
- If you are having trouble finding time for your activities, this is a great opportunity to think creatively about your schedule. Could you take a yoga class in the middle of your workday a couple of times a week? Could you meditate during your commute (please don’t do this if you are driving!)?
- Core Activities:
- The final building block of a healthy daily routine is Scheduling Breaks. This is something I used to ignore. I would just take breaks when I could, without making any particular effort to proactively schedule them. But that is a quick recipe for burnout. So now I have scheduled break times and have learned how to relax during that time.
- For example, I block of Tuesday nights in my calendar as “Do Nothing” nights. Having that night as a recovery night helps me to re-center and keep up my energy for the rest of the week. Sometimes there are conflicts and I have to reschedule this, but the majority of the time I honor it and it has made a huge difference for me.
- Scheduling Breaks might look like a night off or smaller micro-breaks throughout your day. I also know folks who schedule “Thinking Time” in their weekly schedule. While not technically a total break in work, this is a break from the hustle of the workday that helps to get more perspective.
- If you struggle with seeing the value in breaks, think about physical exercise. Most physical training programs have rest days built into the program. The rest days are just as essential for building muscle and strength as the exercise days. They aren’t optional – they are PART of the exercise program.
- As you add in breaks to your calendar, you may find you need to move other things around. Keep making adjustments until you have an overall outline of a daily routine.
And there you have it – the four building blocks to a healthy daily routine. Perfecting this will be an iterative process. Give something a try, identify problems and make changes, try it again, make changes again, and on and on until you have something that works well for you. A couple of additional things to keep in mind as you build your daily routine:
- Take advantage of your energy levels
- Many people prefer to do tasks that require more creative and deep thinking in the morning, and more administrative tasks later in the day.
- Many people also experience an afternoon slump. This can be a good time to rest with a nap or do some physical activity or connection activity that doesn’t require as much thinking.
- Balance Active Work, Active Recovery and Passive Recovery
- I like to have a mix of each of these things throughout my day. Active Work is my deepest work, Active Recovery is more passive but still mentally engaging (for example reading or taking notes), and Passive Recovery requires the least amount of energy. It’s not realistic to sustain Active Work for hours on end, so mixing in these two forms of recovery is a great way to build a healthy daily routine.
- Mix Structure and Flexibility
- The minute you have a perfect daily routine, the world will conspire against you to force you to change it. It’s just one of those things!
- Stick to your guns and protect your routine, but don’t be militant about it. If you slept terribly the night before, sometimes sleeping in later is more important than getting up early for your daily writing session. If you have an opportunity to get together with a friend, that might be more important than cooking your regular dinner meal. Your daily routine is there to guide and inspire you, but you are not failing if you don’t stick to it 100% every day.
- Also, sometimes, you will be inspired to do something outside of your daily routine. I love inspiration so almost always would encourage you to follow that.
By now you should have the outline for a daily and weekly routine. This routine will include everything you need to do along with plenty of time to work on your goals and rest. If you have created a great healthy daily routine, share your example in the comments below. Who knows – your daily routine may inspire someone else!