When buying a house the three most important factors are location, location, and location. And when it comes to music, the most important thing is rhythm, rhythm, and rhythm. Without that foundational timing and groove, music suffers.
My four years of piano lessons highlighted for me that musical talent was not my strength. For me, a piano recital invoked great anxiety! What if I hit a bad note? This fear was so real that I conveniently missed my last recital because I never told my parents the date. This is not something I recommend, by the way. The end of my piano lessons didn’t come long after that.
In hindsight, I am thankful for the musical knowledge I gained, even if my strengths are in other areas. If only I knew then what I know now: a bum note lasts for a split second, but poor timing ruins the entire performance. Rather than focusing on wrong notes, my attention would have been better served if I had focused on the rhythm! That’s makes all the difference in music, just like it makes a difference in life!
Establishing an effective rhythm is the key to being productive. By rhythm I mean a routine; a groove, that fits you and allows you to focus on the most important aspects of your life. It is a flow that reflects your values and enables you to accomplish your goals.
With a rhythm to life then you can be creative and use your energy in more productive ways.
Your rhythm might not be mine, and my rhythm might not be yours. It’s important to find a rhythm that’s right for YOU. I’ve previously shared the routine I like to follow to start my day that includes exercising before I begin working. My husband, on the other hand, likes to go through his morning routine and get to work a few hours before I do because his best working hours are bright and early. In order to fend off a lag in energy in the afternoon, he prefers to work out around noon. Working from home, we have the luxury of a flexible schedule, but when my husband travels for work, he switches up his routine and exercises after work before dinner.
The nice thing about rhythms is that they can change. You can slow them down or speed them up; or switch them up altogether depending on whether you are at home or on the road…or whatever circumstances might change for you.
By contrast, some people prefer to work on a more scheduled basis. They do this activity promptly at 9:00am, something else at 10:00am, and so on. While I am bound by the clients I have scheduled in a day, I prefer to follow a rhythm that allows me to be more flexible for all my other activities. The schedule method is not wrong, but if that way of approaching your day feels too boxed in and like your day is unraveling when you can’t keep the designated times, you might prefer following a rhythm.
There are many different rhythms you could adopt including these:
While the way you spend the bulk of your day might not be work in the traditional sense, you may find that many of the same principles apply. Let’s flesh out in more detail the routines that make up the work day:
1. Your Start Your Work Day Routine
What would send you the message that it is time to buckle down and get serious about work? Is it…
- Instrumental music and a piping hot cup of coffee
- Creating silence (turning off music, phones – even sound on your computer)
- Sipping tea and clearing your desk
- Lighting a candle or diffusing essential oils
- Deleting all “junk” emails
- Reading an article that is inspiring, growth related, or pertinent to your area of work
The options are endless. It just needs to be something that will launch your day in the best direction.
2. Your Planning Routine
When your plate is overflowing it’s tempting to skip this step and dive straight into work. I promise you, that even though it is counterintuitive, taking the time to make a list of all that needs to be done, prioritizing your list, and being strategic about the flow of your day based on whatever’s already on your calendar makes a difference. Get into the groove of reflecting, planning, and prioritizing.
Your planning routine is not just a daily event, but also a weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly routine. If that’s not something you’ve been doing up to this point, you may want to put those planning moments on your calendar.
It’s critical to plan on a daily basis, but you must decide what works best for YOU. You can plan…
- before you go to bed each night – a brain dump that might help you sleep better
- in the morning as a part of your time with God
- as a way of launching the start of work
- at the end of the day – the last thing you do before you are done working for the day
The point is to find a rhythm to planning that serves you best!
3. Your Communication Routine
There are more ways than ever to communicate and yet over and over again I hear how communication is at the root of numerous issues! No matter what you do for work, or how you spend the bulk of your time, communicating well and in a timely fashion will allow you to stand out in remarkable ways! Having a communication routine will not only help you do that but will also make it easier for others to know when to anticipate your response.
Is responding to all important emails, phone calls, etc., something you do immediately after planning your day? Or do you handle communication each day right after lunch? That doesn’t mean that you never return emails at any other time, but whenever possible to trying to contain communication to a specific time frame.
4. Your Follow-Up Routine
No matter what you do, there’s follow-up that needs to happen. It might be following up on a project, prospective clients, an opportunity, or even someone you have arranged to work around your house. When you get hundreds of emails and have dozens of calls to return, following up is one way to ensure you stay top of mind for people. Have a system to help you keep track of when and what you last communicated to avoid anything important slipping through the cracks.
5. Your Wrap-Up The Work Day Routine
Again, there is no right way to do this as long as it works for YOU! Do you end your day by…
- Clearing your desk and so that you are ready for the next day
- Planning the next day
- Responding to any urgent emails or phone calls that you’ve received
- Celebrating what you’ve accomplished during the day
- Making a quick list of things you don’t want to forget to make planning the next morning easier
What’s the routine that would bring your day to a close and set you up best for the next day?
Having a successful groove to your day is all about establishing routines that work for YOU. The possibilities are endless and finding the right routines for you may involve some trial and error.
I’ve shared five routines that will make a difference in your work day. I suggest you pick one routine to start with – the one that will have the biggest impact on your effectiveness. Once that routine is mastered, move on to another routine, until you’ve successfully incorporated all five. And remember, no routine is set in stone. As your life and work evolve and change, so will your routines.
What needs to change most when it comes to your routines and the rhythm of your day?
© Can Stock Photo / wenchiawang