Productivity

4 Daily Rituals To Power Up Your Productivity

 May 27, 2021

By  Uriah Guilford, MFT

minute read

 

The 4 Daily Rituals:

  1. Morning ritual
  2. Work startup ritual
  3. Work shutdown ritual
  4. Evening ritual

Uriah: Hello, and thanks so much for listening to the podcast. Today, I’m joined once again by my fearless co-host, Tracel. How are you today?

Tracel: I’m doing well. How are you?

Uriah: I’m doing good, thanks. I said ‘fearless’ because you’re almost up for anything that I propose!

Tracel: Yup! I like a challenge.

Uriah: You do! I like that – it’s fantastic. However, I’ve never asked you to go bungee jumping though, so there must be…

Tracel: I’d have to think about that one.

Uriah: Yeah.

Tracel: I don’t know if I would do that.

Uriah: If you had to choose between bungee jumping, skydiving or…what’s another good one, swimming with sharks? What would you choose?

Tracel: Am I protected in a cage of sharks?

Uriah: Yeah.

Tracel: Maybe swimming with sharks, I think might be the least…yeah.

Uriah: Oh, my goodness! OK.

Tracel: What about you?

Uriah: None of the above? I guess.

Tracel: I don’t know that was an option!

Uriah: Yeah. Bungee jumping and skydiving scare me intensely. But then sharks…like, that’s that’s more pure danger. So.

Tracel: Yeah, that’s true.

Uriah: Yeah. But I probably go with bungee jumping honestly because it seems like you don’t hear about people actually dying from that.

Tracel: That’s true. That is true.

Uriah: Hopefully that would be the safest…? I don’t know! But this is actually not our topic!

Tracel: No, it’s not!

Uriah: Today, we’re actually going to talk about the four daily productive rituals. And this is based on a book that Tracel and I and Jamie, our other leadership team member, just read recently, which is one of the most recent books from Michael Hyatt and company. And it’s kind of a nice one because it’s very tactical and practical, but it’s also pretty short, right?

Tracel: Yeah, I loved it because as I was reading it, I saw ways to apply it not only to business, but to my personal life, which is really useful to me.

Uriah: Yeah. So the subtitle of this book is Design The Daily Rituals That Help You Win at Work and Succeed at Life. And the book actually presented an idea that I’ve not thought about – or in a way that I’ve not thought about – in terms of habits and routines being a form of self-automation, which is pretty neat. It ties in nicely to the three keys of productivity that we talk about a lot, one being, of course, automation. But it’s true if you if you think about it, habits and routines are things that are so dialed in to your brain and your body that you do them automatically without having to think about it, which is brilliant.

Tracel: Right. It was so obvious after I read it, I’m like, yes, but I didn’t think of it beforehand myself, but it made so much sense.

Uriah: So I’m curious, I actually don’t 100 percent know the answer to this question, but are you the kind of person that has specific and detailed habits and rituals already?

Tracel: I do. You know, I’m a planner. I like things on a calendar. So I am. But I definitely saw ways to improve after reading this book.

Uriah: Yeah, for sure. I’d say I’m somewhere in between. People might think I’m more of a productivity robot than anything, but I’m really not! Like, I have certain things that I always do that I’m kind of, for lack of a better word, religious about. And then other times I just like to break all those structures. Like, Michael Hyatt seems to be…everything that I’ve read from him, he seems to be one of the most ritual-oriented and habit-oriented people. I bought his planner one time and it was just so much of a system that I was like, I can’t do this!

Tracel: That’s interesting because I thought about that planner, so I’m glad to have your feedback on that!

Uriah: It’s really good! It is really good. And I thought I might try it again. So quick overview: the three components of this book, they talk about habits, they talk about routines, and then they talk about batching. And today we’re really going to focus on the four routines that the book breaks down. And here’s an interesting thing that I never thought about before. But everybody, myself included and of course you, Tracel, we all have routines already that we do.

Tracel: Right.

Uriah: Whether you know it or not, whether you’re intentional about it or not. So stick around and at the end of the episode, I’ll give you a tip on how to assess your current routines. So we’ll get to that. But we already do things automatically every single day, right?

Tracel: Absolutely, yes.

Uriah: Like one of my most unproductive routines that I’ve been able to break the habit of… well, I guess more of a habit than a routine is checking my phone first thing in the morning.

Tracel: Right.

Uriah: And so that’s a hard one. But I was able to change that, specifically checking email.

Tracel: The one I changed and a lot of it came from this book is having a deadline where I stop looking at my phone at night. So it’s not the last thing I do before I get to bed.

Uriah: Right, right. So just to break them down real quick and we’ll go into each of these with a little bit of detail. So the four daily rituals are – I’ll put them in the order that they happen – simple morning ritual, work startup ritual, your work shutdown ritual and then your evening ritual. Those are the four in the order as they come. But before we jump into all those, I’m going to take a quick pause and hand the mic to our podcast producer, Luci, to tell you about the Productive Therapist Insider program.

(Ad break)

Uriah: Thanks, Luci! Now we’re going to talk about the four daily rituals. OK, so the first one is the morning ritual and everybody has one of these. Like we said before, it might be productive and helpful; it might not be. But there’s a couple of things that I always do in the morning: one is make tea, and that’s actually my main morning ritual, aside from the usual stuff that you do in the morning. But the first the first 60 to 90 minutes of your day are actually very important and they set you up either for being on track or being off track, right?

Tracel: Yep, I would agree with that 100 percent.

Uriah: Yeah. One of my favorite podcasts is Tim Ferriss, The Tim Ferriss Show, and his whole kind of thing is breaking down the habits and routines of high performers. And so he always asks people, what do you do in the first 60 to 90 minutes of the day? And interestingly, some people are very specific about the routines, whether it’s meditation or all kinds of different specific things. And then other people who are actually very productive and successful are much less routinized. Is that a word, ‘routinized?’

Tracel: I think it is.

Uriah: Yeah. Yeah. But in any case, I think if you can apply some intention to your morning routine, whether it’s super structured and rigid or not, that’s going to help set you up for a really, really good day, right?

Tracel: Yes, definitely. One thing that I do is I drink water. I try to drink water first thing in the morning. If I start that, then I will be better at drinking water throughout the day, if I start with water. Before my tea! Then I have my tea.

Uriah: Yeah. Yeah, that’s good. Actually – maybe I’ll do a podcast episode on this at some point – but for 2019 for the majority of the year, I did the Miracle Morning. Have you heard of that?

Tracel: I have and I read the book. Yes.

Uriah: Did you? OK, nice. And I did that; I stuck to it for at least six months. I can remember exactly how long it was, but that was really, really helpful. And I liked all the components of that.

Tracel: Yes, really nice.

Uriah: But now the funny thing is I’ve moved to a much simpler morning routine where I’m not doing a whole lot of things, but it seems to be working just fine for me, too.

Tracel: Yeah. I think you have to find a balance, right? Because otherwise for me that I feel like I’ve got the schedule that I have to follow and it kind of should be enjoyable and get you going instead of already being like work.

Uriah: Definitely, yeah. When it gets to be a question of why am I doing this? Is this helpful?

Tracel: Yep, right.

Uriah: Then I know I’m ready to move on. So. Yeah, but the next one is the work start-up routine, which is followed by the work shutdown routine. I would venture a guess that most of the people listening to the podcast right now, myself included, have not been very thoughtful about how we start work and how we end work.

Tracel: Right.

Uriah: And based on your talks with all the therapists that we help through Productive Therapist, would you say that’s probably true?

Tracel: I would agree, that’s absolutely true. And I didn’t realize I wasn’t being very productive either with these things until I read this book.

Uriah: It shines a light on on some of those things. Not always the best thing, but.

Tracel: Right.

Uriah: So in the book, they define the work startup routine as basically what happens from the moment you arrive at work. So obviously a lot of us are still working remotely. So when you arrive to your workspace and whatever you do in the first 30 minutes or so. And the book recommends a work startup routine and a work shutdown routine, it takes about 20 to 30 minutes, so it doesn’t have to take a lot of time, but it’s just designing what you do first and what you do last to kind of bookend your workday. And I would say that…I’ll give an example from this morning. And I’m not always perfect with this, by the way, by no means am I always super hyper productive. But this morning, I had a really productive morning because last night I set things up for this. But when I got to my computer this morning, I had minimized every single window on my computer and the only thing in front of me was an open document with a few lines in it, which was actually, funny enough, the outline to this podcast. So the most important thing for me to do this morning was to finish this outline so you and I could record this podcast.

Tracel: Right.

Uriah: When I got to my desk, I had my tea in my hand and the only thing that I was prompted to do was the most important thing. So I did that for…I think it was 30 to 40 minutes, and then I did a few other things and then continued my morning. But oh, that was so great! Versus, you know, getting caught up with mostly email.

Tracel: Right.

Uriah: Or other things.

Tracel: Yep.

Uriah: Yeah. What have you changed about your work startup routine?

Tracel: Well, you’re right: we do have habits or rituals that are taking place anyway, and you probably have a work startup, but it might not be serving you well. And so I actually start mine the day before where I review my calendar to see what I have going on the next day. So I’m mentally prepared for it. So that’s what helps get me going for that work startup.

Uriah: Nice transition to the work shutdown routine! Yes. Which, the work shutdown as well as the evening routine prepare you for a good morning the next morning, as well as a good start to your workday the next day, and I would say this is one of the smallest but most helpful things that I took away from this book and implemented. And I always love that, that the easy change makes the biggest difference, right?

Tracel: Right.

Uriah: Yeah. So part of my work slowdown routine now is to – I don’t know why I never thought about it – but is to actually close my email tab so quickly; wherever I’m reading email, I just close it down so that it’s, it’s not even open so that I actually I just have a little bit more friction to go check my email and write positively. So that signifies like, hey, you know, emails are going to come in after 5:00 or 6:00 PM, whatever, that that time is.

Tracel: Right.

Uriah: But I’m not going to check them till the next morning. So that’s really helpful. And the book says that using that last 30 minutes of your workday and wrapping things up and maybe reviewing the next day, like you said, allows you to leave with a sense of accomplishment and kind of have an end to that time of your day. Because the problem with…well, certainly in the last year and a half, but even before that is that busy therapist’s entrepreneurial therapists, ambitious therapists, right?

Tracel: Right.

Uriah: Their work bleeds into so many different areas of their life.

Tracel: Right.

Uriah: Because they’re seeing clients and then they’re trying to work on their business and other things. And the idea is never stop for a lot of us, right?

Tracel: Sure. Sure.

Uriah: And so we have to create these boundaries for ourselves so that so that we can actually be more focused and get more done too.

Tracel: What I liked about that is that that keeps me from scheduling anything right at the end of the day that I would feel rushed, like I’ve got to finish this. But if I know if I can leave myself that 30 minute buffer zone then I finish all the things I need to before that, and then I can kind of tie up loose ends but not get involved in a big project. That’s what I’m trying to say. Because sometimes I’d be in the middle of it and then it’d be very easy to keep going because you’re in the middle of a big project, so giving myself that buffer has really helped.

Uriah: Definitely. I don’t know about you, but for me, trying to tackle any kind of big project or anything that uses a lot of brainpower at three, four or five o’clock, is not a good idea!

Tracel: It’s not happening!

Uriah: Not usually, no. I’m pretty much done by then, at least with my current workflow and situation.

Tracel: Right.

Uriah: So last up is the evening routine; and if I’m being honest, it’s probably the one that I need to work on the most because like, it’s easy to slip into bad habits when you’ve…

Tracel: Yup, me too.

Uriah: …been through a lot during the day. But the book talks about how this is preparing your mind and body for restful sleep, which anybody who’s listening to this most likely who is a therapist understands the importance and the power of sleep for mental health and for productivity. But nevertheless, we all…most of us ignore that!

Tracel: Right.

Uriah: At some point, I’m going to actually move my phone and my devices away from my bed and then maybe out of the room. But I just I don’t know. It’s so hard to do!

Tracel: What if there’s an emergency? Right. That’s what you’re thinking.

Uriah: Yeah, right. But it’s much better to do the things that calm you at night. And we don’t need to get into all the things around sleep hygiene. Probably a lot of therapists understand what those components are, but really, really important to be mindful, if you will, about the evening routine so you can sleep well, so you can recharge. And actually another book…what book was that? A book called Effortless that I just read was quite good. And he says – the author is Greg McEwan – and he says, ‘Only do as much work today as you can recover from.’

Tracel: Oh, wow.

Uriah: Which I’m not exactly sure how to measure that, but you kind of know when you’ve overdone it, right? So it’s important to rest and recover so that we can come back with a good amount of energy and being ready to see clients and work on our private practices and those kind of things.

Tracel: And I think, you know, you mentioned entrepreneurial people, a therapist or anybody in general, that will be one of the problems for me: if I start too late in the evening thinking about something creative, that will disrupt my sleep, because then that’s all I can…’What if I did this? What about that?’

Uriah: Right.

Tracel: And then my mind just will not shut off. And the next thing I know, it’s 2:00 in the morning!

Uriah: Totally. And the best thing I’ve ever done for that is to put a notepad and a pen next to my bed.

Tracel: Yes.

Uriah: I want to document those things and do that digitally. But if I take away, if I stop looking at my phone, basically, I can write ideas down on the paper and then they won’t – hopefully, hopefully! – stay in my brain and I can revisit them.

Tracel: Yeah, that’s a great idea.

Uriah: So just to recap, those are the four daily rituals that are important. You’re already doing them, but you could be doing them better!

Tracel: Yeah.

Uriah: The morning ritual, the work startup, work shutdown, and evening. And the most important thing is just to set up those daily routines that help you accomplish your important tasks and projects. That’s what we’re all about: making sure you make progress on your big goals and dreams so that you love your life while you’re changing the world. So the next step, a real quick kind of thing to leave you with is – and I did this; it was super helpful – is to actually document, sit down and write down your current rituals. Just run it through your head, maybe what you did this morning, what you did today, what you naturally do on autopilot without even thinking about it, step-by-step, every single thing: brush your hair, whatever you do.

Tracel: Right, right.

Uriah: And then take a look at that. And then you can assess like which one of those things are serving you and are giving you sort of good results. And then which ones are clearly like, Oh yeah, maybe I shouldn’t watch Netflix until 11:30!

Tracel: Right!

Uriah: Or whatever that might be.

Tracel: Right.

Uriah: Yeah. So there you go. Thanks for listening to the podcast and I hope you have a good day! Bye, Tracel!

Tracel: See you later!

Uriah Guilford, MFT


Uriah is a group practice owner and the creator of Productive Therapist. He is a technology nerd, a minimalist travel packer, a rock drummer and business development enthusiast.

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