The hardest thing in maintaining a productive lifestyle is to be consistent. And every time you finish a productivity-promoting book or a professional online course, you're full of energy and motivation. But time flows, your enthusiasm gradually wanes, and you start to look for another book to boost your effectiveness. So what can you do to stop losing your time and begin changing your productivity for the better?
Some things are out of your control, like your boss' mood or morning traffic. Still, you can change everything that relates to your habits and actions in that way so you'll be able to perform in work and personal life better. And the number one task is to create daily rituals that will ease building new habits and help you stay disciplined.
How can rituals change your routine and productivity?
Study says 40% of your daily routines consist of habits — repeated actions that you perform every day. Some of the activities, like brushing your teeth or taking a shower, you perform unconsciously. You ignore the process itself and turn on an "air mode." Your body does everything for you while your mind is somewhere else, thinking about further plans or reflecting on past events.
And ritual is an opposite notion since you do them mindfully and are highly engaged in the process. By adding specific things (like turning on your favorite music or lighting a scented candle) to the daily routines, you transform them into relaxation rituals. And paying attention to details in the process helps you calm your mind and become present in the moment, which is so essential in a busy life.
Rituals help you structure your routines, regain the feeling of control, and ease the stress that comes from unexpected changes. In an unstable world that surprises you every day, rituals are an island of stability — they allow you to take a breath and feel the moment.
And it's easier to create rituals than build habits! European Journal of Social Psychology research states you need 66 days on average to develop a new habit. In turn, rituals are more pleasing and relaxing, that's why you will literally want to follow them.
The main difference between them is that you develop new habits to achieve something. For example, you try running in the morning to lose some weight and become more focused during the day. In turn, the main ritual's aim is not the result but the process itself. Therefore, when you perform your daily rituals, the only important thing is how you feel in the moment. Of course, rituals also have long-term effects, but their primary purpose is to make you feel good during routine actions.
What's more, science and psychologists are consistent when praising rituals. For example, numerous studies have proven that small rituals can boost your confidence, increase concentration, and help you perform better in cognitive tasks.
The survey, conveyed by the University of Toronto, showed people experience less sensitivity and anxiety after a failure if they performed a ritual before completing the task. Another research claims that rituals help your body reduce cortisol level and blood pressure, increasing your immune system function. So if you've never believed in the power of rituals — welcome abroad, it's time to change your mind.
Rituals of successful people
All successful people, be it Bill Gates or Oprah, have their small rituals to stay on top of their performance and to blow off steam occasionally. Let's look at these rituals closer, so you can adopt one of them or get an idea for your unique ritual.
Do you feel that you lack time for things that matter to you, like a hobby or reading? Ernest Hemingway, the world-famous writer, has found a solution to this problem. He woke up early in the morning before others to write a few hours in complete silence.
You could use this ritual too — morning hours are not just quiet and peaceful; it's also the time when your mind is sharpest. That's why you'll be able to learn more from reading the book or listening to a podcast early in the morning.
Are you sick and tired of daily routines like cleaning your house or cooking? Why don't you turn them into a ritual as Bill Gates does? Household chores help him relieve some everyday stress and get back on track. For example, he enjoys washing dishes after dinner. And when performed mindfully, this monotonous task can boost your creativity by 25% and significantly lower your anxiety.
Do you often postpone your workouts for later because of daytime fatigue or laziness? Then you may lose a vital part of your daily productivity! As for Richard Branson, one of the wealthiest UK business magnates, he doesn't start a day without early training.
Richard claims morning tennis or a running session is one of the reasons for his success. They help him tune in to the business and sleep well during the night. And surveys approve his rituals are helpful — morning workout not only lets you sleep longer but also reduces blood pressure and boosts metabolism.
When you're at breaking point with all work routines and troubles on your shoulders, it's easy to lose yourself and sink in anxiety or become depressed. However, rituals are doing an outstanding job in reducing your daily stress.
Oprah Winfrey, one of the most influential media persons in the US, knows it like no one else. So she sticks to one of the most relaxing rituals and takes a bath at the end of each day. Meanwhile, essential oils, bath foam, and an inspiring book help her turn this routine into a ritual. And as for scientists, taking a bath decreases your cortisol level and heart rate, having the same effect on your body as meditation.
The best daily rituals to become more focused and productive when you're busy
No ritual will match every person's needs. However, it's easier to find yours when you know a couple of decent practices useful for other people. You may even stick to one of them without knowing it. Still, reading about rituals will help you add more mindfulness to the whole process. So let's find out which rituals you can perform daily to become more focused and productive!
Try "Must, Should, Want" when planning your day
We all are annoyed with straightforward advice to "plan everything." That's why most of us throw away new planners and forget about planning apps. It's hard to follow abstract and imprecise tips. In turn, when you have a particular strategy and a detailed instruction, you may enjoy planning as never before.
And Jay Shirley's planning ritual is impressive if you've lost your motivation and productivity. Called "Must, Should, Want," it mixes essential tasks with enjoyable ones, so you'll find it easier to cope with stress and perform better. And it's also pretty easy to follow — when writing down your daily tasks in the morning, set about with three entries.
First will be the urgent task that you have to complete with an immediate impact on your life (like completing your daily work). A second entry will be a task with long-term effects that you should perform till the end of the month or week (for example, spend one hour learning a new language).
And the third task is what you really want to do — daily remedies that help you relax and elevate your mood after a hard day (it can be an evening cycling or a short walk in the park). Follow this ritual during planning, and you'll see how productive you can be when focused not only at work but on small pleasures too.
Turn your household routine into rituals
According to the research, we spend more than 90 minutes on chores daily, which is 10 hours every week. So what's the point of spending these hours being irritated and gloomy if you can turn them into your power time?
Choose the housework you dislike the most and add things that make you happier in the process. For example, you can't stand cooking after repeating this routine every day for years. Start with turning on your favorite playlist aloud to elevate your mood. Then you can focus on your moves instead of thinking your anxious thoughts.
Observe how you slice and chop, touch veggies or cereals to feel their structure. You can also use tableware in your favorite colors when cooking to enjoy it more. In such a way, the whole cooking time will turn into a mindfulness meditation that helps you relax and be present in the moment. You can try this technique with any chore — remember, how Bill Gates cleans the dishes to calm down?
Perform "reading ritual"
With the endless stream of information surrounding us, only a few people devote time to reading books. Instead, they prefer to zone out after coming from work and spend the rest of their day scrolling social media or watching Netflix series. However, these "rituals" are like fast food to your brain — it gives you instant satisfaction but no long-term knowledge. Meanwhile, reading books is what will make you more intelligent and calmer.
Warren Buffett says he spends more than 80% of his work time reading. But why would one of the wealthiest people in the world pay so much attention to books? The first reason is that reading makes us smarter.
By reading about other people's experiences, you're trying on their roles, pump up your decision-making skills, and learn more about the world. Simultaneously, reading is a decent practice to de-stress — just six minutes a day can help you reduce anxiety by more than 30%.
You can also turn your reading time into a pleasant ritual. Make a cup of coffee or your favorite tea, choose a cozy silent place (like your garden or a soft window sill), and dive into the book. You can set specific time limits for reading, like 100 pages a day or 30 minutes daily. The main idea is to prefer "reading ritual" instead of giving your brain quick but senseless relaxation by watching TV shows.
Stick to a workout ritual
Exercising routine may be as tiring as chores when you're irritated and push yourself to do it. In such cases, a positive attitude can significantly change the result of training. Moreover, workouts have many benefits for your brain and productivity.
Researchers claim that a workout session sharpens your focus up to three hours afterward. In addition, physical activity stimulates your brain and improves blood flow, which boosts your learning skills and decision-making skills.
Another study, conveyed by the American College of Sports Medicine, has found that people who perform endurance exercises (like running) before tests show better cognitive results. But how can you start enjoying your workout session instead of being sick and tired of them? First, try to turn your workout into a "power ritual" that helps you focus and restore more energy!
Choose the song that brings you energy and turn it on each time you begin exercises — it will set the tone for the whole session. Then think about the reason you workout regularly. Your goal may be to build muscles or to have a healthier body, so imagine how strong or healthy you will be after a few months of training. It will grant you extra motivation and help you work out mindfully. You can also set a particular after-workout ritual like drinking a few cups of lemon water or staying still for a few minutes while listening to calming music.
Practice meditation rituals
Meditation itself is a kind of ritual that helps you look inside your mind, calm it down, and be present in a moment. What's more, meditations strengthen those parts of your brain responsible for concentration, self-control, and planning skills. Plus, by practicing meditation, you cut off distractions and anxiety that stand in the way of your productivity.
If you have a few extra minutes in the morning or after work, try a meditation ritual that will be more effective than a regular meditation session. For example, make a cup of matcha or green tea, carefully watch the process, and focus on their pleasant smell. Then choose a silent and cozy place in your house or garden.
Begin with slow deep breathing, and then you can scan your body or turn on a guided imagery meditation in your meditation app. Focus on how your body gradually relaxes, and your heartbeat becomes slower. Then negative emotions will fade away, and you'll feel gratitude for life and the world around you.
It's so easy to lose yourself in the whirlpool of hasty life. But, when you feel like numerous deadlines, personal issues, and anxiety are about to overpower you, there's still a way to get yourself together. Small daily rituals will help you regain control of your routine and feel the zest for life.
Be it a workout or reading ritual, find which one is the best in maintaining your focus and productivity, then stick to it. After repeating it for some time, you'll be surprised how many changes rituals can bring to your mind and body health. And don't forget to stay tuned for more insights on health and productivity!
- Science Says Meditation Will Make You More Productive (2019)
- Workout Routine Or Ritual? (2017)
- 6 Daily Rituals To Keep Your Focus And Boost Your Productivity (2019)
- Reading Can Help Reduce Stress (2009)
- The Buffett Formula: Going To Bed Smarter Than When You Woke Up (2013)
- Here’s How Much Time Homeowners Spend On Housework Compared To Renters (2018)
- Three Tasks You Should Do Every Day To Stay Happy And Productive (2014)
- Inside The Sanctuary Where Oprah Centers Herself: The Bath Tub (2021)
- Meditation, Mantras And Mud Masks: The Surprising Daily Routines Of Highly Successful People (2021)
- Why You Should Exercise In The Morning (2020)
- Richard Branson: Daily Routine (2020)
- Washing Dishes Is A Really Great Stress Reliever, Science Says (2015)
- Bill Gates: Daily Routine (2020)
- Day Or Night: When Is The Best Time To Study? (2017)
- I Studied The Sleep Habits Of Some Of The World’s Greatest Writers, And I Found These 7 Trends (2015)
- Why Rituals Are Good For Your Health (2018)
- Why Rituals Work (2013)
- How Are Habits Formed: Modelling Habit Formation In The Real World (2009)
- How We Form Habits, Change Existing Ones (2014)