Why are rituals so important? Rituals are habits you commit to doing that will create structure and routine into your day and your week. When you create rituals for yourself, you will ensure better focus, which will lead to achieving your goals more regularly.
But where do you start? Here are some ideas of rituals you might want to put into place to help you be more productive and effective in your role:
Plan ahead: At some point between Friday afternoon and Monday morning, set aside some time to plan out the upcoming week. Step one is to identify what your “big rocks” are. What are the key items you need to accomplish first to ensure you have a successful week? When are you targeting to have them completed? If it’s an individual project, schedule blocks of time on your calendar to ensure uninterrupted time. If the project requires collaboration, get any necessary meetings scheduled as soon as possible. Now that you have your big rocks planned out, look again at your calendar and to-do list and make any necessary additions or take off any unnecessary items. Now is a very good time to evaluate whether certain items can be delegated.
Plan your day: Review your calendar and to-do list first each morning. What will you do today that helps achieve your weekly “big rocks?” What important meetings do you have on your calendar today or tomorrow? Do you need to prepare anything for those? Prioritize and rank items on your to-do list, so you can cross items off most effectively.
Know your meetings: In advance of each meeting on your calendar, have a sense of what the meeting is about, what you hope to accomplish, and how you will affect that. This is easier if you’re managing your own calendar and adding items yourself, but if you have an assistant or chief of staff who helps manage your calendar, taking a good look at it regularly will help you stay on track. Do you need to send or request any information and/or documents beforehand? Do you need to make any notes for yourself?
Create a ritual where you give yourself five minutes of quiet before each meeting or call, to review materials and calm your mind, outline what you will accomplish and visualize your perfect pitch.
Right after your meeting or call, take a few minutes to jot down next steps and prioritize anything you need to take care of right away.
Tame the email beast: Managing email can take over your entire day, leaving you pulled in a thousand different directions and unable to focus on your critical action items, so you have to put limits on how often you’re checking your inbox. Turn off notifications for new emails, close your inbox, and make a conscious decision about when you’ll engage with the incoming barrage. Depending on the required level of reaction time needed in your role, you might be able to limit checking your inbox to two or three times a day, but you may need to check hourly, if necessary.
Schedule breaks: Often forgotten about, but an important element to keeping your day productive is to take some regular breaks. It’s up to you to figure out how often you need a mental break, and what the best method is for you to revive your energy. Do you need to go for a short walk around the office every hour, or do you need to get out for a jog around lunchtime? Do you like to work through longer time blocks and then take a few minutes to decompress by checking social media or chatting with colleagues? What’s your plan for lunch? Have a thoughtful plan for including breaks into your workday.
Energize: Remember to include exercise, meditation, time outdoors, time with friends and colleagues just to socialize, and time with family into your routines so that they don’t get lost in the endless piles of work.
Quitting time: Before you head out for the day, take a look over your to-do list and calendar one last time. Did you accomplish what you hoped to? If not, what items are critical for tomorrow? What do you have planned or need to accomplish in the next couple of days?
Once you have established some rituals that work for you, your work days will begin to run more effectively. When you are juggling multiple priorities, having some solid routines in place can be crucial to making sure everything gets done as it should.