Routine and habits are essential for highly productive and efficient people. But as an Enneagram 7, my default is anti-routine.
I love flexibility and I often work in circles. It’s what makes me a great creative! But it also leaves me run down. As in, last week I worked all-nighters to finish up designs for new planners.
We all need a daily routine. Don’t you just hate when the answer is simple?
Creating a daily routine does not mean a rigid schedule (my nightmare!). Creating a plan for your day actually gives you freedom and flexibility. A solid daily routine means you have the brain space to work on projects, finish up your to-dos, and spend quality time with your loved ones.
So how do you create the best daily routine? There are 10 steps to create a great daily routine. If you need a space to track your new routine or jot down notes and lists, our Day on One Page Planner is a perfect solution. I find the built-in system keeps my routine on track while giving me space to coordinate my schedule and my to-do list.
Here are the 10 steps to create the best daily routine!
1. Start the night before.
Review your schedule and to-do lists. What appointments do you have? Any due dates? Mentally walk through the day and envision success. Is there anything you need to do tonight to set yourself up for success tomorrow? Layout clothes, pack a lunch or snack, gather up important papers for that meeting you have? This helps you wake up one step ahead.
2. Find a morning practice that centers you and helps you set an intention for the day.
In the morning, take a minute to do something for yourself. Find a morning practice that helps you set an intention for the day or simply reset your mindset. Meditate. Read. Go for a walk. Journal. Sit and enjoy your coffee. Think (or write down) three things you’re grateful for. Yes, you’re busy but taking a few minutes to yourself (in whatever way you can) is worth it.
3. Review your list and prioritize what matters most.
What are the 3-5 things that HAVE to get done today? Yes, there’s lots you could do. And there is a lot you probably want to do. But what absolutely has to get done? Staying focused on those core tasks means the day can’t get away from you. Trying to do it all in one day leads to burnout, FAST. Prioritize what matters most each day and get to work.
4. Work your lists.
Your to-do lists are made, your priorities are set, now it’s time to work. Batch tasks to be most productive and avoid getting rundown. I like to batch my day into sections: responding to emails, meetings, design or other creative work, and writing. This allows me to stay focused on one type of task before switching gears. A ton of time and energy is lost by jumping around from task to task. Respond to all your emails at once, then move on to the next thing. You’ll create a workflow that feels good and helps you get more done!
5. Track your water intake.
I hate to be a broken record but hydration makes such a difference in how you feel. Not to mention drinking plenty of water is good for your health. It might sound elementary, but tracking your water intake helps keep you accountable. Yes, I am suggesting you take pen to paper and track how much water you are drinking throughout the day. Bonus! You’ll get a dopamine hit every time you check off a few more ounces.
6. Brain dump throughout the day.
Get everything out of your head and onto paper. Take notes during meetings, add reminders to your list. The best way to create and maintain mental clarity is to free up brain space by getting things out of your head and onto paper throughout the day. I always keep my planner with me so I can take notes in one central spot.
7. Build movement into your day.
This is going to look different for everyone. Maybe for you, that means taking a morning or mid-day walk every day. Or it could mean setting an alarm that reminds you to get up every hour and walk around for a minute. Bonus points if you can get outside to do this! Moving your body is not only good for your physical self it helps clear brain fog and it gets your creativity flowing.
8. End your workday by making your list for tomorrow.
This is one of my best tricks for sanity and productivity. The best time to make your daily to-do list is the day before. After you’ve wrapped up work for the day, move any outstanding tasks to the next day. Note the meetings or appointments you have scheduled for the next day and outline any associated to-dos. Track due dates and projects for the week and write down anything urgent for that day. Think of this as a gift you are giving your future self. When you start your workday tomorrow, you will be SO GRATEFUL you have a guidepost for the day.
9. Do a 15-minute tidy to wrap up your day.
Clean off your desk. Put away things out of place in your house. Ending the day (or even just the workday) with a clean slate is good for mental clarity too. Run the dishwasher and/or a load of laundry, clean off the counters. I like to do a quick tidy of my office before the kids get home and we start family time. This allows me to transition from work Whitney to mom Whitney.
10. Develop an evening practice that helps you decompress and gives you a moment of relaxation. Skincare. Shower. Brush your teeth. Read or meditate before bed. Pray. Do some stretches. If your morning routine is intended to set you up for success for the day, your evening routine helps you wrap things up. It’s a signal to your mind and body that the day is done and now it’s time to rest.
Creating a daily routine is absolutely essential. If you want to be productive but not burnt-out, be able to focus but not feel like you’re burning the candle from both ends, be efficient but not work every second of the day, you need a daily routine. Use the steps above to create the best daily routine! You will thank yourself.
Need help creating your best daily routine? Grab our FREE daily printable here! The guided prompts help you identify priorities, track your hydration, and add to-dos and tasks throughout the day. It’s a great place to start creating your best daily routine!