“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” – John C. Maxwell
We all have habits, for better or for worse. I’ve noticed that some of my routines not only make my day smoother and more productive, but also save me time and money. Other routines or habits do just the opposite. Building up and improving the productive routines and rooting out the wasteful routines will improve the flow of life and cash.
Powerful routines are routines that help you maximize productivity. They save you time and money. Grouping tasks together to streamline your day is a way to create powerful routines.
Here are a few examples of some things that work well for me:
- Multi-tasking in the kitchen
When I grind wheat to make bread, I make homemade pancake mix at the same time. I can easily put together the ingredients for the pancake mix while the grinder runs, so by the time I have my wheat ground, I also have a whole new batch of pancake mix ready.
During the natural lulls or waiting time while I’m fixing a meal, I stay in the kitchen and do other food prep (like making bread or yogurt), unloading the dishwasher or other cleaning. It’s usually a short enough time between tasks for the meal that I can’t productively start something new, like work on the computer or do laundry. If I get other kitchen tasks done while I’m making dinner I don’t have to make time to do them later.
- Pay all bills on the same day.
Using YNAB gives us the confidence that the money for all of our bills is available whenever a bill comes. I love not having to worry if there is enough in the checking account to cover the credit card bill that’s due. At the end of the month when we have our budget planning meeting, we also pay the statements on all our credit cards, long before they’re due, and any other bills we have for the month.
This saves us time and worry. We never have to think about whether a bill has been paid or if we’ll have cash on hand when it comes due. We pay them all at once out of last month’s income at the beginning of the new month. It also saves us money. Since switching to YNAB, we have never had to pay a late fee or penalty. Sadly, we had several instances of late fees or penalties in our pre-YNAB system just because sometimes we forgot what day it was.
Hopefully you don’t have any routines that are actually physically dangerous. I’m going to say that dangerous routines are routines that waste time and money, the opposite of powerful routines.
We all have some routines or habits that aren’t productive. They are ingrained into the normal flow of our day, so they usually occur without even thinking about them.
Here are some other examples:
- Browsing Ebay, Amazon, or other shopping sites when you aren’t looking to buy something specific
- Checking Facebook every time you sit down
- Constantly checking your blog stats
- Turning on the TV and watching whatever is on
While none of these is necessarily bad, they take away time that you could be spending with people or being productive. Sure, we all need some down time and that’s fine. I think a routine becomes “dangerous” when it goes past down time and encroaches on the time and energy that you need to reach your goals.
Making Our Routines Powerful
While we can learn from the routines of others, routines are very personal. Mimicking the routines of a successful person won’t necessarily make us successful too. We can learn from their routine and then implement a form of their routine adapted to ourselves.
I often come across ideas that could potentially save me time and money, but never get around to implementing them. Change is hard, even when it may be something we really want to do. One effective way to try out and adopt new money-saving or life-improving changes is to weave them into routines we already have.
Here are some ideas to improve your routines:
- Start with the most unpleasant task first. Get it out of the way. You’ll feel accomplished and everything else on your list will look easier.
- Think of ways you could make the routines you already have more efficient. That might mean doing things in a different order or removing distractions.
- Consider lumping tasks together to increase productivity.
- Turn off social media notifications if you find yourself getting sucked in and distracted from more productive routines.
- Be intentional about creating powerful routines to take the place of dangerous routines.
- Make rules for yourself (i.e. No checking Facebook until ___ is done.)
The way I feel after a routine is usually a pretty good indicator of whether it’s a powerful routine or a dangerous routine. When I’m in a routine that wastes time and money, I often feel bad and unproductive. Sometimes I just wonder where the time went and how it got away from me. After a powerful routine, I feel accomplished and productive. I know that I did something productive and useful. I am encouraged to do more.
It’s time to set a goal! A specific, measurable goal will help each of us improve and stay accountable. I’ll share my goal. It involves changing a dangerous routine into a powerful routine:
One of my dangerous routine involves sitting down in front of the computer. Our computer is out in our main living area, so it’s easy for me to just sit down without thinking (especially when it’s time to nurse the baby) and start “working” on the computer. The thing is I often don’t have an objective. I’ll check my email and other updates, maybe do some blog stuff on social media. Other times I’ll sit down to do something (like look up a recipe for dinner), but then I get distracted with a bunch of other things. Before I know it, I’ve spent an hour “working” but have nothing to show for it. I’m going to strive to be intentional about sitting down at the computer. I will have an objective and a time limit before I sit down.
Now it’s your turn. Think of at least one thing you are going to do to improve your routines… and do it!
How about you?
- What powerful routines do you have? How do they save you time and money?
- What do you to keep yourself from slipping into dangerous routines?
- Want to share your goal?