Routines are valuable productivity tools. They save mental energy by eliminating the need to prioritize and make decisions.
When most people build a routine, they try to get themselves to do the same things every day, over and over again. To me, this is like trying to teach a Chihuahua to meditate.
Instead, build a weekly routine. It’s predictable enough to maximize your output, but flexible enough to accommodate your ebbs and flows of energy throughout the week.
Most of us have different kinds of energy on a Monday than we do on a Friday. I’m one of those (sadly) annoying people who loves Mondays. I can hardly wait to start working, and Monday morning is when I have the most energy available for my best creative work.
But by Friday, I’ve burned myself out a bit. I still love to work, but the same energy isn’t there. I’m not fresh from the weekend — I’m instead looking forward to it.
This is why I never have meetings on Mondays (or Tuesdays, for that matter). This is why my podcast comes out on Thursdays (instead of the more “ideal” Tuesdays). This is why, if I get an email from my accountant on a Tuesday, I’ll Boomerang it so it comes back to my inbox on Friday.
I save Mondays and Tuesdays (especially the mornings) for my most important creative work. My more routine output, like podcast releases, are for midweek, and the administrative details — like reading emails from my accountant — are for Fridays.
This way, I work like a perpetual productivity machine. I’ve organized my time to work with my rhythms, and maximize my creative output, without neglecting the other details that need to get done.
A well-designed weekly routine kills procrastination. There is no 24-hour day — there is only now. If I don’t use Monday morning for my best creative work, I will have missed my chance for the week. So, I have to do it now.
Time blocks like this are organized so that they feed into one another. I’m perfectly capable of responding to my accountant’s emails on a Friday afternoon, but I have little hope of digging in for deep thinking. As I’m letting my brain rest on Friday afternoon — and throughout the weekend — I’m building potential energy to do great work Monday morning.
The idea of organizing your week so that you’re always doing the right thing during the right time of the right day, week after week, is a tall order. Instead, pick a 2-hour time block when you are the most fresh to do your best work, and guard that time like an 8-year-old with Halloween candy.
From there, you’ll start to see the value of doing the right work at the right time. You’ll see the ebbs and flows of your week, and settle into the routine that works for you.