The Three Routines to Improve Your Quality of Life
Think back to when you were 11 or 12 years old. You probably said to yourself something like:
“When I grow up, I can do whatever I want, when I want.”
The problem with this is, as an adult, there’s likely a part of us that still has this mentality.
I know at 47, there’s still a bit of it in me.
I like being free. I liked the idea of not being bound by schedules or routines.
The Problem with Being an Adult - Free Will
Living without structure invokes visuals of a life living like a rock star hanging out on yachts and doing whatever we feel like. Sounds fun right?
But the problem without structure is that we rely on the following to go through our day to day:
We wait until we’re motivated - We don’t do things unless we feel like it.
We don’t seem to have enough time - Especially for the things that fulfill us.
We overly rely on memory - Einstein famously said that the brain is meant to think, it’s not meant to be a hard drive of stuff.
We are led by our emotions - We become whatever we’re feeling in the moment.
The Origins of the Three Routines to Improve Quality of Life
Personally, I wanted more control over my life. I felt like I was just going through the motions. But I also developed my routines because:
I didn’t have any “me” time - With two teenagers and a busy work life, it was a challenge to find the time to do the things I wanted to do.
I didn’t prime myself to have the best day possible - I’d wake up at 6:30 then launch into right into work mode by 7:30.
I hated the crushing feeling of morning anxiety - Did you know cortisol (the stress & anxiety hormone) is at its highest first thing in the morning?
I felt guilty about enjoying my down time - Why relax when I had so much to do?
I had a difficult time being present - I always had something on my mind.
I brought work issues into my family life
I know I could have been doing more
Does any of this sound familiar?
The Three Quality of Life Routines You Should Add to Your Schedule
Through trial & error, I developed three routines that gave me more time & freedom. And it also had a very noticeable impact on my quality of life and being more present.
My mornings felt like I was part of a NASCAR pit crew. Woke up, scrolled through social, checked email, showered, dressed, ran out the door to work. Still likely sleepy, groggy and in the process of waking up. Also filling my brain with mental health crushing news, emails & social media.
The Reason for This Routine: To prime my mind to start the morning right. As well as to have quiet time for myself.
Wake up early - Depending on the season, I would wake up around 5AM or 6AM.
Cold shower (3 minutes) - Cold showers helps fend off anxiety & depression, boosts your immune system & your metabolism.
4x10 Workout (5-10 minute) - 10 pushups, situps, squats in 10 minutes crushes your morning cortisol levels.
5 Minute Gratitude Journal (15 minutes) - Being grateful contributes to your mental wellbeing and improves your perspective
Guided Meditation with Insight Timer App ( (10 minutes) - I listen to a 10 minute guided meditation with headphones
Yoga Stretches with YouTube (10 minutes) - I didn’t realize how stiff I was until I began doing this every morning. It helped squeeze out any stiffness I was holding in my body.
“Me Time” (45 minutes) - I usually read or listen to a podcast while having my morning coffee.
After Work Wind Down Routine
We all have an after work routine, but we don't realize it. Some of us grab a beer and plop ourselves down in front of the TV to numb your mind. Some have more productive routines like a work out. But we all likely have an after work routine. It's just a matter of whether it's working for you and your loved ones.
The Reason for This Routine: I found that I carried work issues into my family life. I had a hard time letting go of work drama & stress.
“What’s the best thing that happened today?” (1 minute) - One of the first things my wife and I would ask each other after work was this question to frame the day in a positive light.
A workout or a walk (15-30 minutes) - Physical activity is one of the fastest ways to change your present mood.
New part of my routine…“Did you do your best…” journal entry (5 minutes) - I purposely ask myself these questions and write them out in my journal. The purpose of these questions is to i) Force you into realizing you put in a sold day’s work ii) Help you realize you can’t fix anything right now. iii) Offload any work tasks onto paper so you can be more present.
Did you do your absolute best today?
Whatever is bothering you, can you realistically do anything about it this evening?
What 3 things do you need to do tomorrow?
For years, my schedule only contained meetings. Nothing else. I left personal pursuits, health & fitness and important personal & work tasks to memory (or to-do lists).
The Reason for This Routine: To prioritize what improved my overall health & wellbeing. Reduce the stress & anxiety of having to remember things I needed to get done.
What’s important about a scheduling routine isn’t that my particular schedule is special. It’s simply the act of you scheduling what’s important for you.
Suggestions for Your Scheduling Routine
First, schedule what helps your mental & physical well being. Prioritize you first. For me, I schedule all my morning & after work routines, lunch breaks and two walking breaks per day.
Second, schedule actual time to work! Too often we pack our schedules with meetings with zero room to actually do work.
Third, schedule EVERYTHING. From the time range of 5AM to 7PM, schedule every minute of your day.
How These Three Routines Can Improve Your Quality of Life
Your mileage may vary, but for me these three routines have had a notable impact on my mental health, physical health & improved my relationships.
Improved mental clarity - I know longer had to rely on my memory to remember things. It was all laid out in my schedule. This gave me more room in my mental hard drive to think of other things than a task I’m supposed to be doing this afternoon.
Increased productivity - It injected discipline into my day to day. I just got more done.
Less anxiety - It reduced the thought loops that we occasionally find ourself in.
I was more present - Since I’d dump everything onto my calendar, I didn’t have to worry about what was next. And my after work routine helped dump out my nagging thoughts onto paper and out of my head.
Improved health & fitness - I'm probably in better shape now than I've ever been.
More free time - Contrary to what you’d think, by 7PM, I was pretty much care-free. I had done the most important things and I felt like I could enjoy my free time guilt-free.
The point of this article isn't that what's contained in my personal routines have the magic answers. Yoga may not be your thing. Or instead of meditation, you listen to classical music. The details itself don't matter as much.
What I am hoping that you do is that you create your own versions of these 3 routines with your personal mental & physical health in mind. Experiment. Find out what works. Keep refining until you find what's right for you.
I've shared these with you in hopes that you could benefit from them as well.
Let me know what you think. What's the biggest takeaway for you?