The Importance of Structure and Ritual in your Work Day

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We all have them but don’t really notice them. They’re so ingrained in our daily lives, we probably don’t think they’re really “rituals” but simply tasks we perform in order to optimize our day. Rituals could include everything from making the bed in the morning to drinking a cup of coffee while reviewing the news to going to the gym for a one-hour workout.

Bottom line: rituals are predictable…and so are their outcomes. Experts believe that rituals can help our productivity. Take the example of Jack LaLanne, world famous fitness guru. According to an article entitled An 18-Minute Plan for Managing your Day in the Harvard Business Review:

At the age of 94, he still spends the first two hours of his day exercising. Ninety minutes lifting weights and 30 minutes swimming or walking. Every morning. He needs to do so to achieve his goals: on his 95th birthday he plans to swim from the coast of California to Santa Catalina Island, a distance of 20 miles. Also, as he is fond of saying, “I cannot afford to die. It will ruin my image.”

Okay, so maybe you’re not as self-disciplined as Jack LaLanne. But that doesn’t mean daily rituals can’t help you. Tomorrow morning before you do anything, jot down what you need to do that day to make your day feel successful. Don’t overdo. Keep it simple. (If your list is too long or comprehensive, you risk not accomplishing your tasks and feeling a sense of failure.)

Then start your day, with the list in a prominent location. As I’ve written about before, tackle the difficult tasks early on. And don’t forget to reward yourself throughout the day for a job well done.

Rituals exists in our lives for a reason: to guide us and provide us with a sense of dependable structure. When we take a moment to notice them and notate them, we can increase their power.


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