t’s important for leaders to review and update their routines in order to continuously optimize their performance. However, switching up a routine can be challenging. After all, we are creatures of habit. That’s because we’re not consciously performing 40% of the actions we perform each day, according to a Duke University paper. But that isn’t to say it’s impossible.
Habits can be changed, and they should be. Developing a high-performance routine offers your business high returns. Great leaders typically have key habits that they practice on a daily basis. Different routines work for different leaders, but one thing’s for certain — successful leaders have developed a routine that enhances work productivity. They optimize the efficiency of their employees by optimizing their work routine.
Why routines for leaders are important
Contrary to the popular belief that routines make people boring and predictable, routines in fact make life easier for leaders. When leaders design and adhere to a routine, it makes them more efficient because it reduces the need to plan. It allows a leader to ‘do’ instead of plan, and that efficiency carries over to their team.
Routine is all about consistency. It shows your team that you’re focused and you have a clear direction for where the organization is headed and a clear method for making decisions. Leaders with a consistent routine also tend to maintain predictable moods that encourage people to interact with them because they know what to expect.
Steve Jobs, for example, would start work at 6:30 AM, arrive at the office at 9:00 AM, have meetings at 9:30 AM, visit the design lab at 1:30 PM, and do emails, meetings, and phone calls at 3:00 PM. This way, he didn’t have to think about planning each day, and his colleagues and subordinates always knew where to find him. Having a structure like this enables your business to have a process to prevent confusion and miscommunication.
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Evaluate your current routine
If you’re going to change or fix your routine, you must first evaluate your routine and ask yourself whether you even have one. Think about what your typical day looks like and then write down how much time each of your different projects or work activities take.
Start with your morning routine. Do you wake up at the same time every day? Are you rushing to get everything done before heading to work? If so, you may need to wake up earlier or change one of your morning habits so that you arrive at the office ready to take on the day. When you get to work, think about your morning agenda — greeting co-workers, reading industry news, going over the day’s plans and priorities.
In a given week, see how much time you spend putting out fires and solving others’ problems. If that takes a huge chunk out of your day, you might want to consider establishing guidelines that include best practices with colleagues, stakeholders, and clients. Inspire your team and trust them to complete their work. This will empower your team and improve your work productivity.
Plan to plan
Routines aren’t set in stone. Every week looks different than the last for most leaders. Are you in the habit of sitting down and planning your time? Your time is vital to your organization’s success, so you should establish how you’re going to use it. By making it a habit to plan your week, you’ll be better able to track how you’re doing.
Take small steps
You don’t have to change your entire routine in one day. It’s easier to change one habit at a time. First, evaluate areas where you can make small changes such as delegating tasks, scheduling meetings more effectively, etc.
Identify the habit that is preventing you and your team from reaching maximum work productivity. Then replace this habit with a new one. For example, if you’re attending too many status meetings, replace them with a weekly status meeting that involves everyone. Just remember that routines take time to set in, so make sure you consciously keep at it — don’t let old habits creep back into your new routine.
One trick to establishing new habits is to reward yourself. For example, schedule time to do something fun after a task you’re not looking forward to, such as 15 minutes for social media or a task you enjoy doing.
Opt to use tech tools
With so much technology out there to help you stick to your new routine, why not use it? Sure, you can just set your phone to go straight to voice mail or turn off your email alerts to concentrate, but there are so many other tools you can opt to use.
To help you with your work routine and increase company-wide work productivity, there are scheduling tools, task management tools, and work efficiency tools. You can get in the habit of more easily evaluating employee performance by using tools that measure employee performance against your company’s goals and their contributions toward OKRs.
By utilizing software to gain deeper insights into team dynamics across your organization, you can discover which areas of your routine you need to change. You can then set time out of your day to track how the company is doing.
Set Yourself Apart with an Optimized Routine
There is a reason so many successful people have written books about the power of routine. Whether it’s entrepreneurs, professional athletes, or Steve Jobs, a routine has always been at the center of their success. No one figured out their ideal routine in a day. You have to change one habit at a time until you find the sweet spot. But as a leader, a good routine will set you apart and empower your employees to create quality work.
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