With so much to do on any given day, knowing how to prioritize your time can feel overwhelming. We all have a limited number of hours available. We have to use that time to maximize our productivity, but we also have to make sure that we take the opportunity to facilitate our health and wellbeing. Establishing healthy habits part of your daily schedule ensures your health doesn’t get pushed aside.
Below we created a list of 7 crucial components to schedule into your day to keep your health, mental clarity, and productivity all in perfect balance.
1. Nighttime Routine
When it comes to our physical and psychological health, a good night’s sleep is vital. Yet, many Americans do not receive the rest they need to function correctly. The CDC reports that a third of US adults get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep per night. Since insufficient rest is linked to serious chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and obesity, this is a cause for concern.
The CDC has gone so far as to declare sleep deprivation as a “public health problem.” So what does all of this mean for your daily routine? Experts suggest that establishing a nighttime routine can significantly improve the quality of your sleep and help you fall asleep faster.
Our list below includes essential components for your nighttime routine.
- Set your bedtime.
To ensure you get a full night’s sleep, establish a set bedtime. When you go to bed at the same time every night, your body will naturally begin to relax and prepare for sleep on its own. To help make this part of your daily routine, consider setting the alarm for one hour before you plan to go to bed. When this alarm goes off, you’ll know you have plenty of time to complete your nighttime routine and get to sleep on.
- Perform relaxing activities.
Before bed, relaxing and soothing activities can help you fall asleep faster. Consider reading, taking a warm bath or shower, performing breathing exercises, or journaling. These activities can calm the mind and help you relieve stress from your daily life.
- Create a restful environment.
Trying to find adequate sleep in a space that is cluttered can prove impossible. Remove any items from your sleep space that may trigger stress or anxiety. Mail, laundry, work-related issues, computers, and exercise equipment should be banned from your bedroom. It’s also important to consider your mattress. Sleeping on an inadequate mattress or pillow night after night can severely disrupt your sleep. Be sure your mattress is supportive, comfortable, and suited to your needs, and get the best pillow to complete your sleep setup.
- Avoid large meals before bed.
When our bodies work hard to digest food, it can be challenging to unwind and rest. Therefore, medical experts suggest avoiding large, heavy meals before bed. Try to give your body at least 3 hours to digest food fully before retiring to bed.
- Reduce screen time.
Our bodies naturally produce melatonin to help us relax and prepare for sleep. Since light can interfere with the production of melatonin, experts suggest reducing the amount of screen time at least 2 hours before bed. Less screen time ensures you fall asleep faster.
Incorporating some or all of the above components into your nighttime routine should help improve your sleep quality. For balance and productivity, a bedtime routine is essential.
2. Morning Routine
How you end, your day is just as important as how you start it. The morning is a perfect time to plan for the day ahead and organize your goals before your day begins. To establish a morning routine that will set you up for a productive afternoon and evening, consider our tips below.
- Evaluate goals.
First, consider your goal for the day. You may have several things you want to accomplish, but by identifying the most critical tasks, you will be better able to prioritize your time.
- Review schedule.
Once you have established the critical tasks for the day, you can create a realistic timeline for completing them. Be sure to review appointments, meetings, and productivity time so you can identify any open slots.
- Plan meals.
Planning out your breakfast, lunch, and dinner can go a long way in reducing daily stress. If you go into an office each day, consider packing your lunch. Taking your lunch to work can save money, help you eat healthier, and give you more
time to relax. Arranging your dinners in advance will also prevent you from having to stress over what to make after a long day. To help yourself prepare, consider writing out your meal plans in the morning before the day begins. Additionally, you can use the weekends to create meal plans for the entire week.
Exercise can take place at any time of the day; however, many experts suggest that the morning is the best time to take part in physical activities. Morning exercise is excellent for helping the body wake up, jump-starting metabolism, and burning stored fat.
- Make your bed.
Completing small tasks like making your bed each morning can help you feel accomplished and in control as you start your day. Though this may seem a trivial task to some people, making your bed can set the tone for a productive day. It also leaves your bedroom tidy and organized, which will help you feel more relaxed when you return to bed at the end of the day.
- Create a getting out the door routine.
Mornings can often feel hectic as you try to get out of the door. To help reduce morning stress, consider doing a bit of prep the evening before. Place essential items you will need for the day close by the door. For example, laptops, briefcases or backpacks, lunches, and water bottles, keys, purses or wallets, gym clothes, and shoes should be placed in the same place each evening, so they are ready to go in the morning.
Incorporating any of these small tasks into your morning routine can give you a jump start on your day and leave you feeling focused.
As we mentioned above, exercise tends to be most effective in the morning. However, if you are unable to make exercise part of your morning routine, be sure to schedule a workout elsewhere in your day.
Just like sleep, exercise is critical to your health. Experts note that regular physical activity helps to prevent significant health issues such as stroke, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, depression, anxiety, and some forms of cancer. If you don’t currently have a regular fitness routine, consider starting small with a 7-minute workout. Even this short routine can help make exercise a permanent part of your daily life.
The term “downtime” means something different to everyone. What helps each person relax and let go of stress will be specific to their interests, lifestyle, and hobbies. However, making time for leisure activities within your day is vital for your mental clarity. Our list below includes some healthy things you may want to consider incorporating.
- Spend time with family and friends.
- Participate in your favorite hobby.
- Enjoy a favorite beverage or meal.
- Go for a walk.
Above all, what you do in your downtime should make you happy and leave you feeling centered. Be sure to schedule in your downtime so that it always remains a priority.
Most of us need to think that we have been productive at some point in the day. Whether you work a traditional 9 to 5 job, do freelance work, or own a business, you will need to schedule your work.
To keep your operating hours productive, consider decluttering your workspace, removing distractions, placing tasks in manageable “chunks,” and delegating or outsourcing projects if you find your workload unmanageable. It is essential to set a specific number of uninterrupted hours of productivity each day. A set schedule will ensure that your professional life does not interfere with your health or wellbeing. Work quickly from your phone while on the train, trax, or uber when you can.
6. Outdoor Time
Outdoor time is good for the brain and the body. Natural sunlight improves mood and focus. Studies show that going outdoors during that day:
- Reduces stress.
- Boosts the immune system.
- Improves energy levels.
- Helps reduce or dissipate depression.
- Lifts anxiety.
- Gives you your daily dose of vitamin D.
Scheduling even a small amount of outdoor time into each day can have significant effects on your overall health. To make coordinating outdoor time easier, consider eating your lunch at a nearby park, completing your exercise routine outside, going for a short walk in the morning or evening, or finding longer hikes you can achieve or complete on the weekends. Even if you live in a busy city, chances are you will be able to find nearby green spaces or hiking trails.
When we are in the midst of your busy lives, it can be challenging to stop and take a moment to be thankful. During your day, try to make time to express gratitude. You can do this first thing in the morning upon waking or just before bed.
Consider starting a gratitude journal, or letting those around you know that you appreciate them. Taking a small amount of time to be grateful for what you can help reduce stress and improve mental clarity.
Addition Scheduling Tips
It is important to remember that establishing healthy habits takes time. Remember to start small and gradually increase the number of tasks you schedule. For example, if you have begun incorporating a 7-minute exercise routine into your day, after a month of completing this task regularly, you may want to increase the intensity and duration of the workout. Always have a self-care routine. Self-care will be your secret weapon to physical and mental health, as well as higher productivity.
Additionally, it will be helpful to keep your momentum going. If you begin by establishing a set bedtime, try your best to maintain that habit. If you miss a day, don’t fret, aim to stay consistent afterward. Before long, these habits will become second nature.