Q: I’m on the road a lot. Between conferences and sales meetings and team meetings, my routine feels like anything but. How can I balance the needs of my business with the calm of a routine?
A: In my early years as a real estate agent in Bellingham, Washington, life moved faster than I could keep up with. Between marketing, showings, closings, parenting, eating good food, moving my body, continuing education and all the things in between, any concept of self-care felt foreign or forced.
To me, productivity isn’t about mastering all the sections of your life into one manageable calendar. Quite frankly, don’t try that. It’s impossible. Productivity is about being present in whatever task or priority is at hand. We lose our ability to focus when we switch tasks every 15 minutes. We also lose focus when we have unrealistic expectations of ourselves. So before I dive into my advice for building routines into your day, I’m first going to ask you to stop, close your eyes and repeat this phrase:
I am human. I am perfectly imperfect. Whatever I do or don’t do today is just enough.
Repeat it. Write it down. Tape it to your mirror or your dashboard or over the face of your smartwatch until it kicks in.
Now, there are some ways I’ve found to build a routine into an impossible busy schedule. One tactic is creating micro routines. This is especially helpful for those who frequently travel and don’t have the comfort and sameness of home. Micro routines are those non-negotiable daily things that remind your body that even when the environment is different, this one task stays the same.
For example, if you’re only good at hydrating when you’re home with your favorite big water jug, specify a travel version of that same container to stay hydrated on the go. If you’re used to your big fancy gym two blocks from your house, create a travel workout routine and stick to the same time frame so your muscle memory kicks in.
We’re habitual creatures, and our brains feel safe when we have a routine to rely on. Travel is the biggest disruption for routine. With micro routines that are designed with that disruption in mind, we can teach our brain to not realize the difference between a home workout and travel workout. We can mimic a similar sleeping environment that allows us to get the much-needed rest we often miss while on the road.
Micro routines are just one example of a fundamental truth: You often can’t control your environment (such as a busy entrepreneur’s life on the road), but you can control what you bring to that environment. What are some ways you build out micro routines in your schedule?
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2023 Issue of SUCCESS magazine.