Saturday, January 14, 2012

How to Get Freedom in Your Daily Life

I invented a time machine. But rather than moving you back and forth in time, my machine creates more time during the day. It's really quite remarkable.

I call my time machine the "Routinizer." I use the Routinizer every day and it increases the time available during the day by at least one hour, sometimes more. And that's my time to do whatever I want with. So a product description of the Routinizer would be: free time creator. Now, I'm going to tell you the secret of creating your own "Routinizer." This is a huge value, and I'm giving it away for free here, folks.

The first step is to think of how you spend your time. Stretch your mind back over the past week and think about what time you woke up (and got up, if they are different) what you spent your time doing after getting up, and when you got to work (or class, if you're a student) and what you did when you got home at night. Did you do the same things every morning, including getting up at the same time? How about in the evening? Were you rushed to get to work, tired in the evening? Was your work day chaotic? Were you struggling to keep up with demands on your time? Maybe you missed lunch?

If you already have a solid morning and evening routine, you likely have a lot of order in your life. But if you are living chaotically, establishing a morning and evening routine (and following it!) may just be the best thing you can do to help yourself. Enter the Routinizer.

Once you decide a more orderly life would be of benefit, you can go ahead and begin to establish your routines. The morning routine should include all the things you do to get ready for the day. For everyone this should include breakfast (most important meal of the day!) and hygiene (shower please - your office mates and class mates will thank you!). You may also want to exercise in the morning. In fact, I suggest this highly if you are the type of person that hates to exercise. Getting it done first thing clears away the obligation, and you are more likely to do it before the distractions of the day take it away from you. But, maybe you like exercising to unwind at the end of the day. That's cool - just make it part of your evening routine.

There are two other elements of the morning routine that really improve your effectiveness during the day. First, review your day and figure out what you will be doing. Generate expectations of the day and make contingency plans if things go awry. Second, do whatever work you absolutely need to do before engaging with anyone else during the day. You might have to do this immediately after getting up if, for example, you have a wife and children.

The work you need to do might be tasks for your day job, or it might be different. You may have the goal of learning a foreign language. Well, make 20 - 30 minutes of study part of the morning routine so that it gets done. People may use this time for bible study, learning economics (yay!), or developing a skill. Whatever it is, make sure you do the work as part of your morning routine, otherwise it may not get done.

All of the above prepares you for the day. Now we need to think about the evening, where you wind down, relax, prepare for sleep, and review the day. Also, the evening routine helps to set up the morning routine of the next day so it is preparing for the day as well. The key with the evening routine is to not engage your mind over much. A stimulated mind will be a detriment to a solid night's sleep. Also, if you exercise in the evening, do it earlier rather than later. Working out wakes you up.

The evening routine should include a review of the day, including evaluating what worked and what didn't, and what needs to be changed. Think about the tasks of the next day and line up your 'to do' list. Also, review your long-term goals and determine what progress was made. Maybe you need to change or update some goals? Now's the time to think about that stuff. Finally, relax your mind before bed. Avoid television, because the screen lights will activate your mind in ways that make it difficult to sleep. Same story with computers. Some light reading is always good - but nothing that will get your blood boiling (no newspapers!). Go to bed with plenty of time to sleep.

For more on routines and their benefits, see here. What I've personally found when I follow routines is that my days are much smoother, and I am much more productive. And, most importantly, I have peace of mind.

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