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The secret to getting more done at work—and home—according to Google’s productivity expert

The secret to getting more done at work—and home—according to Google's productivity expert

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from leading productivity workshops, coaching executives, and being a parent, it’s that people love routines. Whether it’s an annual holiday tradition, a monthly movie night, a weekly favorite meal, or simply a bedtime ritual, routines create rhythm in our lives, and this rhythm is something we can capitalize upon.

A 2006 Duke University study found that approximately 45 percent of our daily behaviors are habits. While there’s a huge trend these days on forming or stopping habits (things you do without thought), I like to focus on creating routines (natural next-step actions) instead. Habits require motivation, whereas routines flow naturally with intention.

Starting your week by saying I have to cook dinner every single night feels overwhelming and like you’re not sure where to start. However, by thinking in themes—Meatless Monday, Pasta Tuesday, Soup Wednesday, New Recipe Thursday, and Takeout Friday— suddenly the meals task feels less daunting. I’ve narrowed the scope of the activity, and now I have some structure to help me figure out what to do. I don’t have to stick to this structure all the time—maybe one Wednesday I don’t feel like cooking and order takeout instead. Or maybe I have a particularly busy week and don’t have the energy to try a new recipe on Thursday. Implementing this schedule to any degree will help make my weeks of cooking dinner smoother.

You want to think of how these types of routines can benefit your work and personal life. Theming your days. Creating a weekly flow and daily flow to your schedule. And when you have something that you want to fit into your schedule—like learning piano—don’t count on yourself to pick a good time and find a way to do it. Create a routine that helps you make room for it easily.

Make it stick

I call these types of routines when:then. To create any new behavior we have to create a trigger for actually doing it, or it always stays as something we’ve been “meaning to do.”

I’ve played piano for twenty years, but I had a goal of wanting to learn new songs. Because I had taken lessons for over a decade, I didn’t really need new instruction—I just needed the time, and the push, to do it. For many people that someday timeline never happens and turns into I’d really like to or I’ve been meaning to. Many times big lofty goals, creative projects, and self-care slip into those meaning to do categories. Those…

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