Creating a daily routine can help you focus on what's important in business and in life.

Adopting a Daily Routine Might Just Change Your Work Life

Productivity Time Management

Ever thought of taking up yoga or making your own coffee in the morning? Creating a daily routine can make for a more productive day. Here’s how to do it.

Sticking to a daily routine can make for a more productive day. Almost every day will present unforeseen circumstances and issues that threaten to overtake your schedule, and keep you from accomplishing the important tasks that need to be done. That’s why the most productive people are committed to their personal daily routines, which keep them focused on the business at hand before they’re inadvertently pulled away by inevitable distractions.

To Adopt or Not Adopt a Daily Routine?

Imagine you have a mental list of important things to do this morning. As soon as you wake up, you reach for your phone and check your email. There you may find one or more messages about a problem at work — a vendor who hasn’t been paid, a delivery that hasn’t been made on time or an employee with a complaint. Before your day even begins, you’re likely to start putting out this fire, which could potentially take an hour or longer. You’ve already lost an important chunk of the day, causing you to run late, possibly neglect important tasks and feel like you’re trying to catch up all day long.

On the other hand, if you have established a morning routine and are committed to keeping it before you handle anything else, you’re likely to be more productive. Researchers at the University of Nottingham found that our levels of energy and self-control — which allow us to stay focused on the task at hand — are finite resources that are gradually depleted throughout the day. For that reason, most people do a better job of accomplishing important tasks earlier in the day. Sticking to a routine can provide you the focus and presence of mind to do that on a daily basis.

Creating a Routine That Works for You

Every person has to develop the routine that will work for his or her own life, priorities and responsibilities. The most important thing is to put first things first and arrange the routine so that the activities that help you build focus are included on a daily basis. For instance, your own health and wellness should come first, because you can’t help others or be productive at work when you’re sluggish, malnourished or low on energy. Your professional priorities — the items that are crucial to your position or your success — should come before less pertinent matters. To establish your own daily routine, consider including these items:

1. Exercise

Research shows that physical activity translates into higher mental productivity, including sharper memory and prolonged mental stamina. If you start your day with regular exercise — even a brisk walk, if you don’t have time to go to the gym — you’ll be able to work at higher capacity throughout the day.

2. Nutrition

Eat a nutritious breakfast (and lunch) to get your brain going and keep it working well all day long. By eating healthful food early in the day, you are more likely to be able to manage blood sugar levels, which helps increase brain productivity and impact self-control.

3. Personal Focus

Setting aside time for mindfulness and doing the things you love with the important people in your life can help you centralize and bring focus to the activities of your day. Determine what priorities can help you accomplish that vital focus, and schedule time for it into your routine.

4. Daily Priorities

A routine may be similar each morning, but every day brings new tasks. Start each morning by writing down the top three to five items you need to accomplish that day (or write them down the night before). Prioritizing will help you minimize distractions and contribute to a successful day.

5. Time Limits

Try to avoid scheduling meetings or appointments in the morning, as they can throw off your routine. If possible, set certain hours during your day that are open for scheduling meetings, and stick to them. But don’t just set limits for others on using your time; set limits for yourself. For example, when creating your daily to-do list, give yourself time limits for completing each task — and throughout the day, check your progress on completing tasks in the amount of time allotted. Time management is essential in all areas of business.

6. Outsourcing

Finally, as a business owner, it’s important to remember that you should prioritize the responsibilities involved in improving your bottom line and serving your customers. By focusing your time and energy on running your business — and outsourcing other tasks when appropriate — you can increase your daily productivity. As such, you should make an effort to research experienced partners and vendors that can help your operations run smoothly.

With an established routine, most people find that their days are more structured and focused, and are less likely to be derailed by minor emergencies. Try to establish your routine and stick to it, avoiding time-wasters that can detract from your productivity.

Nancy Mann Jackson
Nancy Mann Jackson

Nancy Mann Jackson writes regularly about finance, the workplace and career issues. Her work has appeared on CNBC.com, CNNMoney.com, Entrepreneur, Glassdoor.com, DailyWorth.com and Fortune.