Setting rituals – Time Management Tips
“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.”
For most people, the word “ritual” typically conjures up an image of a boring, repetitive life, with every moment controlled and managed, and no room for spontaneity. Rituals and routines, however, can actually help increase the spontaneity and fun in your life. Because routine tasks are already planned for, you have more energy to spend on the tasks that will bring you closer to your goals and bring more joy to your life.
What is a ritual?
The dictionary defines a ritual as, “any practice or pattern of behaviour regularly performed in a set manner.”
In fact, you can build any type of ritual in three easy steps.
- Identify the task. Let’s say you want to build an exercise ritual.
- Identify the time and/or trigger. For example, perhaps you normally exercise right after work.
- Identify the sub-tasks. For you, perhaps your ritual involves going to the gym, getting changed, stretching, doing 45 minutes on the treadmill, performing three reps of weights, and doing a lap around the pool to finish things off. Then, you shower and go home.
Remember, a ritual shouldn’t be set in stone. Once you establish a ritual, it can be modified at any point in time, depending on what works for you. With our exercise example, you could easily decide to exercise before work or even at lunch and still use the basic task and sub-tasks.
Ritualising sleep, meals, and exercise
These three items are essential to ritualise. Here are some ideas.
- Sleep: Establish a ritual for half an hour before you sleep. This might include filling out your Productivity Journal for the next day, enjoying a cup of tea, taking a warm bath, and/or performing some stretches. All of these activities will help you wind down and sleep better. It is best to try to go to bed at around the same time every night, too.
- Meals: Take a half hour each weekend to plan meals for the next week, including lunches and suppers. Then, make a grocery list and get everything you will need. Appliances like slow cookers and delayed-start ovens can also help you make sure supper is ready when you are.
- Exercise: Try to exercise for one hour three times a week, or half an hour each day. One easy way is to go for a brisk walk at lunch, or do yoga in the morning before work.
Here are some rituals that many people find helpful in maximising their time:
- Instead of checking e-mail, news, and websites throughout the day, set aside one or several periods (for example, morning, noon, and at the end of the day). Then, batch and sequence your activities (for example, e-mail, news, and Facebook). You can batch many types of tasks in this way for maximum efficiency.
- Set up a system for maintaining your Productivity Journal. This can be as simple as ten minutes in the morning to update the day’s list, ten minutes at noon to update what you have done already, and ten minutes at day’s end to evaluate today and create a starting list for tomorrow.
- In the morning, perform your tasks in an organised, routine manner. You can also lay out your clothes and prepare your lunch the night before for maximum efficiency.
Using rituals to maximise time
Once you have been using a ritual for a while, you may find that you have bits of extra time here and there. For example, you may find that by establishing an exercise ritual, you finish five or ten minutes earlier because you know exactly what you’re going to do at the gym. At the end of the day, you may find that you have a half hour or more of unexpected time.
This is where the “trigger” part of rituals can come into play. Instead of setting a specific time of day, you choose a situation or an event that will cause a ritual to come into play.
- During a break at work or at home, read for ten minutes.
- Take one minute to do some deep breathing and stretches.
- Take five minutes to clean off your desk or some other small area.
- Take ten minutes to update your Productivity Journal.
- Set aside one lunch hour a week to do personal errands. Or, make a list at the beginning of each week, and do one a day.
Linda found that whenever she had a few spare minutes at work, she would go to check her email, look at Facebook, and check out new sites. However, while she had planned to only look at these websites for a few minutes, sometimes she would lose track of time. She needed a way to maximise her time without losing track of time on websites.
Linda decided to set up several time periods throughout the day when she would check work sites, like her work email and work calendar, and personal sites, like Facebook and news sites. She checked them first thing in the morning, at noon, and at the end of the day. Once Linda got into the ritual of checking these sites only three times a day, she found that she used her time more wisely and accomplished much more throughout her day.
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