Building Routines into Your Day
So far we’ve covered how to create an intention behind your new routine or habit, how to actually develop that routine or habit, and what to do if your new routine or habit is not working for you. Now, we’re going to take a look at the concepts of habit stacking and time blocking to guide a discussion of how you can build routines into your day.
Taking pauses or breaks during the day is important for your overall well being as well as your productivity. We tend to get into a mindset of powering through or pushing ourselves until we complete something. At least, I know that I do this. But, when is the last time that you took a rest or a real break? I started working small breaks and pauses into my day to reset myself, and it turns out that my day goes much better when I do this instead of just powering through my tasks.
Taking a break can help you maintain a state of flow while you are working. There’s only so long we can focus or concentrate for, but taking a break allows us to reset that time and get back into flow afterwards. Breaks also allow us to take a short rest and review our priorities. It is easy to get sucked into a task, but taking a break can allow you to reset and determine if you’re actually working on the right thing or towards the right goal. Taking a break is like pushing reset on your brain, it allows you to work smarter and in a more focused manner afterwards.
There’s a clear benefit to taking breaks during the day, so how do you do it? You can set a timer for a certain period of time and focus completely on a specific task during that time. When the timer goes off, you take a break. Then you repeat the sequence of working for a period of time and taking a short break. There are many methods for this, including the popular Pomodoro Technique.
What do you do during the break? It’s best to take short breaks regularly throughout the day in addition to taking a long break for lunch. During the short breaks, you can take a lap around your home or workplace, go outside for some fresh air, do a short meditation, focus on your breath (take three to five deep breaths, concentrating on your inhale and exhale), drink a glass of water, read a couple of pages in a book, cuddle your pet, practice qigong or tai chi, etc. The goal of the break is to step away from your work and do something that gives you a little recharge or boost of positive energy so that you can come back refreshed.
Once you get into the habit of taking breaks, you can use them as part of your routine and try habit stacking. Habit stacking is using one habit (such as taking a break) to create another habit (such as meditating). Let’s say I want to start a meditation habit, and I already have a strong, regular habit of taking a morning break after an hour of focused work. I could use my habitual break to practice my meditation through habit stacking—I already have the one habit, so I’m going to use it to practice my new desired habit. Outside of taking breaks, habit stacking can be a powerful tool when trying to develop a new behavior. So, as you’re creating your new habit, consider the habits you already have and see if you can add the new behavior on top of a current one.
Creating space in your day to reset through taking breaks will make you more productive, happier, and focused during the day. Try setting a timer for fifty minutes of focused work and then taking a break, or check out the Pomodoro Technique. See if you can work small positive habits into your day to help boost your mood and productivity. In the next lesson, we’ll expand on the idea of creating routines in your day by exploring morning and evening routines.
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