Design Productive Routines

With children heading back to school, families everywhere are swapping carefree summer routines for more rigorous schedules. Take a cue from them and apply these strategies to changing workplace routines:

  • Give yourself time to adapt to routines. Letting children stay up late right up until the first day of school is risky. Savvy parents start adjusting bed times and alarms at least a week in advance. Take a similar approach when you are adopting new routines. If you want to reduce how often you check e-mail each day, gradually increase the time between opening your messages. That will give you—and your correspondents—time to adjust from the “always available” mindset
  • Stick to it. Consistency makes routines easier to maintain. Kids who know that they will be expected to sit down to do homework every afternoon quickly settle into a routine instead of arguing with their parents. Schedule appointments with yourself to build consistency in your schedule. Example: If you are striving to interact more with your team members, place a daily appointment on your calendar to talk with one of them, and honor that commitment.
  • Back up the schedule. Create calmer routines by scheduling tasks well ahead of the deadline. Families that select school outfits for the week on Sunday afternoon avoid battles each morning. If you must send a report every Thursday, schedule time to create it on Tuesday. You’ll build in time to polish and double-check the report, and last-minute interruptions on Thursday won’t jeopardize your deadline.
  • Adjust until it works. Beware of slipping into a bad habit instead of a productive routine. If waking a child every morning at 6:15 results in a dash for the school bus, that’s an ineffective routine. Examine your habits and routines to identify which ones are working well and which ones you should tweak.

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