Productivity Prompter: Develop a Routine

Another Monday has arrived, and as people drag themselves into work they begin to analyze their goals for the week. Interestingly enough, as many claim Monday to be the most difficult day of the week, recent studies have shown that it is also the most productive day of the week (while Friday is the least productive, as a person would expect). While being the most productive day, most only accomplish about 20% of what they would like to (versus 16% on Friday). Certainly, uncontrollable interruptions and added tasks contribute to such a low number, but it also indicates there is much room to grow in this area.
There are varying strategies, methods, and applications that can be utilized to make us more productive. The key is not to adopt those of another person but to ‘cater’ a plan according to your own personal needs and goals. As part of a deliberate strategy to productivity, an often overlooked element is the development of a routine.
Get up and get to work should be enough according to many people, however, the establishment of a routine can be beneficial. Establishing a routine can help you before, during, and after a busy day of high functionality and needed productivity. Rightly used before the start of your busy day, a routine can be utilized to set a person up for success by ensuring that you have the necessary times in place beforehand, minimizing interruption and interaction to your work. During the day, the routine designates appropriate ‘work’ and ‘rest’ times so that your flow of work continues, while the end of the day ensures that you follow through with your tasks, either by moving them to the next day, assigning them to someone else, or delivering them to their final destination. Developing a routine offers benefits for those ‘stuck’ moments when a person is unmotivated or uncertain because it can identify the next task or reenergize a person when they see that something was already accomplished by the routine.
Obviously due to varying responsibilities (duties and tasks), varying situations (secular job, ministry, stay-at-home parent), and varying schedules one cannot simply duplicate the routine of another. Certainly, ideas from others can be utilized, but ultimately a routine must be tailored specifically to you. However, there are some basic questions and ideas that can guide you in creating your routine, including the following:
  • What do you hope to accomplish? Identification of your overall goal should guy your overall setup.
  • Are there repeated tasks that you do every day (or at least frequently)? Ensuring you are adequately set up and that those are part of your ‘to-do’ without having to ‘think’ about it can save valuable time.
  • What tools do you need to be successful? Whether it be the right pen or a good cup of coffee, what is it that you need to get you set up for the day? Make those essentials part of your daily routine.
  • Where are you going to work? Some people have this place established, while others are more flexible. Establishing a routine workspace that is set up to your needs can be critical in a successful day.
  • How are you going to work? Whether it be in silence or with some music, or perhaps you utilize pen and paper or a computer. Maybe you need an hour of thinking time at the beginning of a day in order to accomplish your tasks. Then make it part of your routine.
  • How long should you work?  It is understood that routine breaks are beneficial to productivity. The poPomodoroechnique has become popular in recent years to the point that there are websites, apps, and times developed just for that purpose. The idea is that a person sets a timer for 25 minutes, works hard during that time, and then at the end of that 25 minutes, takes a 5 minute break. Perhaps this doesn’t work for you, but the point is, schedule some regular intervals in there for breaks.
Routines do not need to complicated, but they need to be catered to your needs so that you function at your highest.
The results of a routine can be substantial. It allows us to ensure that we are setup with the tools a person needs in order to be the most successful. However, as Christians, productivity is not merely about completing what we want for our own personal ambition. Instead, productivity is about doing the most good for the most glory to God. This means productivity sometimes does not mean being efficient but being effective with our use of time. It also signifies doing our best work in the least amount of time possible. As a result, we can become effective stewards of our resources (our time and testimony) for the sake of impacting the kingdom for God. This is our motivation for being productive and developing a routine.