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Making time: the importance of routine

Rosalind Scutt
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
image: getty

Most people agree that routine is important for children because it instils in them a sense of stability in a world where they have little control. What many people overlook is that routine is also critical in helping adults perform at their optimum while freeing up maximum time for leisure and relaxation.

Psychologists and highly successful people agree that by mastering time management you'll be more even tempered, effective and better able to realise your full potential. That may not be important for everyone (some may have no greater ambition than to sit beneath a palm tree) but others will find it liberates them from a life only half realised.

That's not to say you should live like a robot and shelve any concept of spontaneity — spontaneity is just as important but having a tried and tested routine for example can help you to better navigate stressful periods while remaining calm and effective.

Try setting up some key habits around time management and routine; in easier periods you can stray towards spontaneity and in stressful times you can return to use it as a back stop.

Include the following in your daily routine and be the master of your own time:

1. Plan your day: Don't start your day until you complete a plan that takes into account all you want to achieve on that day. It can be a simple list or a detailed breakdown of results you want to achieve.

2. Use small bits of time effectively: Realise the potential in small bits of time. While on a bus or in a queue, reply to emails or texts, book movie tickets or pay bills.

3. Schedule time to exercise and eat well: Take time for good meals and exercise daily. Healthy eating and exercise can dramatically improve your concentration, mood, and increase your energy level.

4. Creative visualisation: Adhering to a strict time management plan can be dull. Change that by practicing creative visualisation. Take five minutes before every task or meeting to contemplate your desired result.

5. Communicate when you are not available: Use a "do not disturb" sign when you are absolutely not available. Don't feel bad. You can always make it up afterwards.

6. Control personal communications: Be cautious of unrelated social interactions when at work. Don't instantly give people your attention just because they call, text or contact you on a social network. Instead, schedule a time to answer emails and return phone calls.

7. Eliminate distractions: Block out distractions that interfere with your goals for the day. If you need to have a certain conversation or complete an unrelated chore, schedule it to do at a later time.

8. Learn to say "no": Don't take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you're doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

9. Aim to be early: When you aim to be on time, you'll either be on time or late. Most of the times you'll be late. However, if you aim to be early, you'll most likely be on time. For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

10. Keep a list by your bed: At night when you are relaxed you may find your thoughts are clearer. Keep a list of all problems or issues that need your attention for you to contemplate in the morning with a fresh mind.

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