Hello, and welcome back. We left off our discussion on daily routines in my previous article entitled: 3 Benefits Of Having A Daily Routine. Now I want to find out what is the best daily routine in order to be as productive, healthy and happy as possible.
I began this search by researching the lives and daily routines of successful entrepreneurs who are kicking life into high gear? Why reinvent the wheel when you can mimic those who created a routine for themselves that worked?
So, I started by reading up on Winston Churchill, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom who led Britain to victory in the Second World War.
His daily routine started by spending the morning in bed.
I began to read a bit more carefully and discovered that he wasn’t sleeping the morning away. Rather, he spent his morning working from his bed.
This brings a whole new meaning to “working from home,” if you ask me.
After working a couple of hours in bed, Churchill took a walk in the garden and followed that by an indulgent 3-course lunch, spanning at least 2 hours.
Ok, maybe Churchill’s daily routine isn’t quite feasible for a typical 9-5’er like myself, but it’s one I’ll keep in mind. As the kids say, I’m picking up what he’s putting down.
Switching gears, I read about Leo Babauta (author of the blog zenhabits.net). Leo is world renowned for his work on how to increase zen (being calm and enlighted) in your life (and who doesn’t need more zen?). His daily routine starts by waking up 4:30am.
And… I’m out. No need to read any further as I am NOT a morning person.
Tim Ferriss is the author of the self-help book: The 4-Hour Workweek, Expanded and Updated: Expanded and Updated, With Over 100 New Pages of Cutting-Edge Content. His daily routine is actually to not have one. He switches things up daily and schedules barely anything in advance.
Interesting, but my boss might not be too thrilled.
After reading countless more daily routines (start the day with an ice-cold shower, spend at least 3 hours a day meditating), I came to the realization that although these routines work for some people, they might not be the best daily routine for myself or others. The best daily routine needs to take into account our jobs, our personal preferences, work schedule, and individual habits.
This realization catapulted me into my quest to discover how to discover one’s best daily routine.
Essentially, I started to research how to figure out your best daily routine.
Chronology – Are you a Dolphin, Lion, Bear, or Wolf?
I found research on chronology or biological rhythm. Biological rhythm is our internal clock which regulates things like hunger, sleepiness, and our body temperature. For example, one part of human beings’ biological clock is our circadian rhythm, which lasts 24 hours. It helps us fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning.
Dr. Michael Breus, a psychologist and sleep specialist, uses 4 different animal labels (which he calls “chronotypes”) to represent 4 different ideal routine types. The 4 animals he presents are: dolphin, lion, bear, and wolf. Each animal has an ideal time to wake up time, eat, exercise and go to sleep. Here is an infographic which details more information about each animal type.
Want to know which animal you are? Here’s a link to take a quiz to find out: https://thepowerofwhenquiz.com/
Turns out, I (along with about half the general population) am a bear.
Looking at what Dr. Breus suggests for bears, I’m actually following quite a bit of the ideal routine already. For example, I try to tackle difficult work tasks in the morning because I know my brain goes to semi-mush in the afternoon. Also, I typically do my workouts around 6 pm once I’m home from work.
However, there are some notable exceptions where I am clearly not following Dr. Breus’ advice.
Exhibit A: Dr. Breus suggests that bears not drink coffee until 10 am! I currently drink coffee within 15-20 minutes of waking up in the morning. It’s hard for me to imagine not having coffee until 1 hour into the workday.
Exhibit B: Bears need a full 8 hours of sleep. I cannot agree enough with Dr. Breus on this! But I also can’t remember the last time I got 8.
However, maybe if I got 8 hours, I wouldn’t need coffee right when I wake up. Interesting…
All in all, I think Dr. Breus’ chronology framework is really insightful and gave me a boost of confidence that I’m on the right track. It also provides me with meaningful suggestions for improvement.
In the comments: What is your animal type? What is one thing Dr. Breus’ suggests for your animal type that you aren’t already doing?
After reflecting on Dr. Breus’ suggestions, I then headed over to The Spruce, which also has an article on how to create your best daily routine. What they advise is as follows: write out everything you need to get done for the day and then organize the list by time of day, keeping in mind your energy levels at these various points. Complete your list but allow for flexibility for exceptions. After 30 days, reassess and see what’s been working and what needs to be adjusted.
Here are some more tips from other articles I’ve read:
- start the day with a positive mantra,
- do not check email first thing in the morning,
- take regular breaks,
- make sure to deep breathe, and
Takeaways For My Best Daily Routine
From all of this research, there are a few take-home messages that stick in my mind.
1. Tip: Be more aware of my energy levels and match tasks to these energy levels.
Action: Stop trying to do important tasks at night. Instead, I should do difficult tasks when I’m mentally fresh.
2. Tip: Get more sleep! 7 hours isn’t cutting it and I know it.
Action: That episode of Dancing With The Stars will still be recorded on the PVR tomorrow night. I do not need to finish the episode tonight.
3. Tip: Take more time for breaks. Sometimes pushing through brain fog to is actually less productive than stepping away from the computer.
Action: Get up from my desk. My mental and physical health will appreciate it.
4. Tip: LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!
Action: Remember spending last weekend in bed with a migraine? Listen to the signs my body is giving me before wasting half my weekend in bed.
With this in mind, I’m going to try to implement my research into action!
In the comments: Did anything from my research surprise you? What part of your daily routine would you like to improve on?