The Importance Of Daily Rituals and Routines & How I Set Up My Day
Updated on December 4th, 2014
Do you have any rituals or routines that you use to get in the zone?
I’m getting more and more fascinated by the idea of rituals to help improve my focus and performance.
When I think about performance rituals, I think of ones like Rafa Nadal’s pre-serve shirt adjustment, undie pluck, brow wipe, ball bounce combo (first 13 secs of this vid):
or Verne Harnish’s suggested daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual meetings that become rituals over time.
I even remember in high school when one of my teachers asked Mike McKay – 4 x olympic medallist (inc 2 x gold) in rowing if he had any pre-race superstitions. His response (and I paraphrase) was:
I actively choose not to have superstitions because I believe I’m ultimately responsible for my own performance so I don’t want to blame a bad result on losing my lucky watch.
One thing I do though, is I’ve painted 3 words on the bottom of the boat at my feet where I can see them: Who, When, Gold.
I use the words as prompts.
Who – If not me, who? A reminder to choose myself.
When – If not now, when? The time is now so go for it.
Gold – That’s my goal.
What a way to get into your race mindset! I was inspired at the time and have often revisited this advice for inspiration.
Tonnes of people I admire talk about the importance of rituals – Josh Waitzkin (The Art of Learning), Jim Loehr (The Only Way To Win), Tim Ferriss (The 4 Hour Work Week), Leo Babauta (The Power of Less)… to name a few.
So I’ve been experimenting with my morning ritual for quite a while, and it’s evolved over time. I’m sure it will change again but at the moment it’s working well to help me prioritise, get focussed and stay focussed for the day.
Here’s mine – tweak it to suit you if you’re interested in giving it a go.
Wake up 5am (I’m definitely at my best in the morning)
Meditate (I use Sam Harris’s 26 minute guided meditation)
Read and learn Normally for about an hour and typically non-fiction/professional development books so I take lots of notes too. This morning it was Leo Babauta’s The Power of Less. I save my fiction for night time to unwind before sleeping. (Unless of course it’s brilliant science fiction like Alistair Reynolds or Frank Herbert and then I struggle to put it down!)
I take a breather when my baby girl wakes up for breakfast/shower/help out time.
Then, when I’m ready to get to work, I set up my day in a fresh page in my notebook using the following format:
Day and date (for easy reference later)
3 things I’m grateful for: (a bit hippie? Sure :-) but practising gratitude helps me keep perspective on everything that’s going on – I typically use 2 family things I’m grateful for and 1 other. I try not to repeat myself and sometimes write down more than 3.)
Today: (I list out ONLY the 2 or 3 most important things I need to get done today – eg podcast prep and writing this blog post)
Reflection: (I write notes at the end of each day to cement the lessons I’ve learned – what went well, what didn’t, ideas – to close off the work day.)
And that’s it.
Do you have rituals or routines that you use to set up your day or stayed focused throughout?