Best productive daily routines for office workers
You can become more productive by establishing a daily routine at work that suits your style best.
There are volumes upon volumes written on how the most successful people follow a strict daily routine.
Humans are creatures of habit. As such, our successes and failures in all walks of life can be attributed to our habits. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the right combination of habits can have a significant impact on our path to success.
Here Office Topics will take a look at some good practices that will help you come up with a daily routine at work for greater productivity that best fits your lifestyle.
Table of Contents
Habit vs routine - what's the difference?
A habit is a behavior that you have picked up. It can be triggered by both internal and external factors. It’s something that we do regularly on a daily basis or multiple times a day.
In relation to working and studying, there are productive habits and counterproductive habits. For instance, guess what type of habit is waking up and spending 2 hours on social media.
A routine is a string of habits that you consciously follow through in order to optimize a part of your day.
Essentially, we put certain actions and habits in a predictable easy-to-follow order in order to make the best use of our time. This allows us to be more efficient and makes us more productive.
The power of daily routines
Wait, isn't a routine going to make your life boring and predictable and kill all your creativity?
Well, the thing is, we are surrounded by hyperstimulation and constant distractions. Just take a look at what social media is doing to us.
We could use a bit of boredom and predictability so we can finally have the chance to focus and do our best work.
We could use a bit of boredom and predictability so we can finally have the chance to focus and do our best work.
A good routine can help you in various ways.
- Focus on what is important
- Shields you from distractions
- More energy for important tasks
- It makes you more creative
- Progress with your work
The best daily routine for office workers
Now, here is what I believe is the best daily routine for office workers that I follow when I want to have a productive day.
Of course, this is just an example, and you can configure it to your personal needs.
1. Manage sleep and waking up
Successful people are early birds, and there is a reason for this. You can use the hours while everyone else is asleep to get ahead of the day and have a productive early morning.
But it is not just about setting up an early alarm. There are some things that you need to keep in mind.
As part of a healthy morning routine, getting up early should not come at the cost of your sleep. So going to bed early should also turn into part of your routine.
Also, you should do your best to go to bed at the same time every night. This way, your body will naturally fall into the routine you are trying to establish.
This way, you will be able to wake up on your own without an alarm. But in case the alarm does wake you up and you still feel like you could drift off, do not be tempted to hit the snooze button. Another forceful awakening will only make you feel more tired.
2. Minimize friction
Imagine waking up an hour before you have to go to work. It turns out you have an important meeting today and you are not sure what you are going to wear.
On top of that, you are out of coffee. And your phone is blowing up with notifications. Did something happen?
This would be hell for a control freak like me. I would probably just go in the corner of my bathroom and cry.
The point is, by controlling what we can and by actively removing friction from our lives, we can optimize our time. Know what you will wear for the day. For the entire week even.
Have the things that you need to be effective at the ready. Take control and manage yourself in order to focus on the things that matter the most.
3. Start your day as a maker
As soon as you get up, do something. Make something. Among the productive things to do in the morning are to make your bed and prepare yourself a healthy breakfast with a cup of coffee or tea.
The point is to start your day in an active way as a maker rather than a consumer.
For instance, just mindlessly scrolling through your social media feed is "consuming" behavior but planning your day would be a "maker" move. Habits don't need to be grand in order to make an impact. Sometimes the smallest of things can make a difference.
4. Prioritize your most important tasks
Sometimes it is hard to wake up and be productive. So just stop and think about what you need to accomplish today. It might be one major thing or a few minor things.
The point is to have a clear goal for the day and handle it before anything else. This way, no matter what happens, no matter how other things come your way, you will know that the day has not been wasted and you have worked toward your most important goals.
5. Report to yourself
You are your own boss. But you can get lost in your routine, and some days you will feel like you have not progressed much.
So keep track of the work you are doing. Create spreadsheets and documents with descriptions of what you've done, and leave comments, notes, and links to relevant materials.
This way you will be able to track your progress and reflect on your work which will boost your creativity and encourage you to keep working.
6. Use meditation and visualization to prepare for the day
Before you head out to the office, allow yourself to calm down and think about the day ahead of you. Think of every interaction that you will go through, and consider your words and actions.
By seeing these things in your mind, you will become more mentally robust. Your mind will go through the unimportant details and allow your attention to focus and observe once you go through the actual experiences.
This form of meditation will allow you to focus on your goals without giving in to external factors and stress. You might feel weird at first but remind yourself that this applies to every new habit that you are trying to incorporate into your routine.
How to create a productive work routine in the office
The daily routine of an office employee is supposed to be conducive to great work. Here I will outline some of the best practices that I have adopted over my career.
If your commute to work is relatively long, then you can use the time to do something productive like checking your work emails or listening to a podcast.
Remember that these are just suggestions for a daily office routine, and you can adapt them to your personal situation. After all, there is no such thing as a unified best-working daily routine for office workers.
1. Ignore the notifications
Most daily routine examples start with an email check. Well, this is exactly what you should not be doing. Some office workers start their day by checking their email and DMs because it is part of their job.
But you are not like most people, you have a goal. You are a soldier on a mission. So don't give in to the temptation. Ignore the notifications, and don't let others dictate what your day will look like.
Use the later hours of the day to handle the communication and make good use of the hours you feel energetic and productive.
2. Tackle something difficult
Be brave, and do the things you are not good at. Face what intimidates you. Figure out what is the most difficult thing that you have to do and face it head-on.
This will only strengthen you mentally over time. And once fear and anxiety are out of the way, your true potential will flourish.
3. Make time for deep work
Okay, it is time to get boring. But this is the only way we can get things done. In order to write, design, code, and strategize, we need to focus and grind it out. It is not spectacular and exciting, and spontaneous.
But it is the only thing that will get the job done. This is the best way to be productive and make the workday go by faster.
So, make sure you have at least a couple of hours to do uninterrupted work so you can have steady progress every day.
4. Never multitask
It has been proven time and time again that multitasking is never a good idea. What you essentially need to keep in mind is that single-taskers accomplish way more than those who are trying to carry two watermelons under one armpit.
Some studies suggest that multitasking can reduce your productivity by up to 40%. But in case you do have to multitask due to the nature of work, then do your best to pair similar tasks so your brain won’t waste too much energy as you're shifting your focus from one thing to another.
5. Make time for a break
Just as there are sleep cycles, researchers have found out that there are "attention cycles" as well. Every 90 minutes or so, our brain needs a little break and a chance to refocus.
So when you feel like your attention is slipping away, just get up and allow yourself to take at least a 5-minute break. This way, you will reorganize your thoughts, gather some stamina, and you can go back for another round of deep work.
6. Be mindful of your bad habits
Nobody is perfect. We all have bad habits and practice behaviors that sabotage our success. So make an active effort to identify what are the habits that don’t bring you closer to your goals and do your best to limit them.
Are you addicted to social media? Are you a gamer? Do you find yourself binge-watching entire channels on Youtube?
Do your best to limit these activities while you are in work mode and leave them for later when you can finally relax.
7. Designated time for Email and DMs
You can’t unplug entirely. After all, you work with other human beings, and communication is important. So have a period of the day that is designated for handling all work-related communication.
It would be best to have this period after your “deep work” time. This way, no matter what comes up, all the distractions will come after you have tackled the most important tasks for the day, and your day won’t be dictated by others.
8. Keep reminders on your desk
A reminder on your desk can be a small note with rules that you need to follow when it comes to your work. Or it can be a token that reminds you of something. Personally, I like to keep Rubic’s cube on my desk. It reminds me that things need to be balanced and well-arranged. But that’s just me.
9. Keep your desk/workstation clean and organized
A messy workspace is counterproductive. It is also a reflection of our inner world. A messy workstation equals a messy mind. So take the time to organize and clean your surroundings. This will give you a sense of control, and it will allow you to concentrate better.
10. Track your work progress
Tracking progress, especially when it comes to work projects, is crucial. Tracking allows us to stay focused, to deliver a certain volume of work on a daily basis, and it helps us to predict when we will achieve the results that we are after. So develop or use an existing system to track your work progress.
11. Talk to your colleagues in person
Deep work and focus are important. But being a lone wolf is not a good personality trait when you function within a team. So make time for your colleagues.
Talk face-to-face about your work. Or join those Zoom meetings if you are working remotely. Social interactions and brainstorming make us more creative. This way, you ensure that all people involved stay on track.
12. Celebrate success
Milestones are important. These are the moments that show us that the work we do is meaningful and we are going places. So take the time to celebrate success with the people you work with.
Celebrate even the smallest win. This will strengthen co-worker relationships and boost morale.
13. Disengage from your work
Sure, it would be great if we had the mental and physical capacity to spend entire days and weeks, and months focused on our projects. But we are only human so we have to find ways to break away from it all and just disconnect.
So when you are done for the day, just shut everything off and focus on yourself. Give in to your hobby or just enjoy some “me” time. Besides, this will help you get rid of the stress you have accumulated during the day.
If you are feeling burnout from all the work you have been doing, then consider taking a few days off so you can take a proper break from the office. Also, your brain will have the chance to rearrange its thoughts. Look at disconnecting from work as another aspect that actually boosts your productivity and creativity.
Summary of my work routine established throughout the years
I start my day early, waking up without an alarm, as I've trained my body to follow a consistent sleep routine.
Upon getting up, I minimize friction by having my clothes ready and my breakfast planned from the evening before.
I begin my day as a maker, preparing a healthy breakfast and avoiding mindless scrolling on social media. Instead, I prioritize my most important tasks and set clear goals for the day.
At work, I ignore notifications initially, focusing on tackling something difficult first. I make time for deep work, single-tasking to enhance productivity.
Breaks are scheduled every 90 minutes to refocus, and I'm mindful of my bad habits, limiting distractions like social media.
I designate time for emails and DMs after my deep work session, keeping reminders on my clean and organized desk.
I track my work progress and make time to talk to colleagues in person. Celebrating success, even the smallest wins, is part of my routine, strengthening co-worker relationships.
Finally, I disengage from work, shutting everything off to focus on myself, enjoying hobbies, or simply having some "me" time. This balance helps me maintain productivity and creativity.
Frequently asked questions about having a productive routine at work
What strategies can be employed to ensure that waking up early does not come at the cost of adequate sleep?
To ensure that waking up early doesn't come at the cost of good sleep, you should aim to go to bed at the same time every night, allowing your body to fall into a natural sleep routine. Avoiding the snooze button and creating a calming pre-sleep environment can also contribute to better sleep quality.
Are there any recommended tools or apps to help track and manage daily tasks as part of a productive routine?
To track and manage daily tasks as part of a productive routine, you can use productivity apps like Todoist, Evernote, or Trello, which allow you to create, organize, and prioritize tasks, set reminders, and even collaborate with team members.
How can I identify and overcome my bad habits that may be hindering my productivity at work?
To identify and overcome bad habits hindering productivity at work, you can start by recognizing patterns and triggers that lead to those habits, then consciously replace them with positive behaviors. Seeking support from colleagues or using habit-tracking tools can also aid in making sustainable changes.