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10 Daily Rituals That Set You up for Success

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10 Daily Rituals That Set You up for Success
Here’s how to live a more productive, happier life with daily rituals. Photo Credit: monkeybusinessimages/iStock/GettyImages

The secret to having a good day as often as possible? It starts with your rituals. From exercise to meditation to quality time with family, they’re the ordinary, everyday tasks that have a big impact on your physical and emotional health. “No matter how big or small, our rituals add meaning to our lives,” says Laurie Gerber, life coach and co-president of Handel Group Life Coaching.

“Rituals can keep us grounded and connected, no matter how hectic life is or how much things change.” Far too often, though, we view our rituals as another to-do on our list instead of treating them as sacred tasks that help us feel like our most authentic selves. Read on to see if any of these rituals speak to you in bringing about your best days.

1. Engage in Playtime
Reconnecting with friends or spending meaningful time with your spouse all qualify as play for adults. Photo Credit: Twenty20/@criene

1 Engage in Playtime

Playtime is essential for all of us — grown-ups included. It just looks different as an adult. For life coach Laurie Gerber, there’s “playtime” for herself, which involves 10 minutes of meditating each day. There’s Saturday-morning breakfast with her toddler, which usually involves more conventional play. And then there’s grown-up playtime spent talking and cuddling with her husband at night.

Fitting fun into your day will be the foundation of happiness and productivity. Start by making a list of all of the things that make you feel happy and fulfilled, and then map out how to incorporate them more into your week. Maybe it’s going for more hikes, joining an intramural sports team, enjoying a dinner out each week with your spouse or meeting up with friends more often after work.

Read more: 5 Ways Being Childlike Can Make Adulting Easier

2. Design Your Day
How do you want your day to go? Write it down. Photo Credit: Twenty20/@shotbycec

2 Design Your Day

One of life coach Laurie Gerber's favorite rituals is to write a “daily design” of how she wants her day to play out. She even emails it to her co-workers and friends so they can hold her accountable for what she hopes to accomplish. “Not only does this practice keep me connected to my friends, it has me at the source of my day’s creation and not simply acting in response to it,” she says. Gerber also has an “imprinting” ritual she does before bed each night. Before she falls asleep, she shuts her eyes and visualizes anything she wants to happen the next day as having already happened. This allows her to go into the next day with full confidence that it already is a good one.

Listen now: Why America’s Obsession with ‘Happiness’ Is Totally Stressing Us Out

3. Track Your Time
Are you underestimating how much time your tasks are taking? Photo Credit: Twenty20/@samanthavaughan

3 Track Your Time

It’s a common assumption that we don’t have the time to do more of what makes us happy, especially during the week. Between work and family commitments, being perpetually busy has become a standard part of life. That said, it’s helpful to see if you’re underestimating how long certain tasks are taking. For example, are you scrolling through Facebook longer than you realize in the mornings? Could that time be replaced with a 15-minute meditation or a quick workout?

“I see again and again that people get up at 5:30, but don’t leave the house until 8, which is a long time to not use consciously,” says Laura Vanderkam, author of “What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast.” Devote the morning to your personal priorities and chances are that your day will go a lot smoother because you’ve put your happiness at the top of the to-do list.

4. Make Breakfast the New Dinner
A reoccurring “date breakfast” may be exactly what your week (and relationship) needs. Photo Credit: Twenty20/@criene

4 Make Breakfast the New Dinner

We’re wired to think that dinner is the meal where everything important is supposed to happen — where families strengthen their bond and where couples reconnect. In reality, a harried week packed with differing schedules makes family dinners a novelty these days. And what couple doesn’t want to collapse on the couch with takeout and Netflix at the end of a stressful day?

For all of these reasons, author Laura Vanderkam recommends trying out family breakfasts and date mornings. Typically, breakfast is the one meal where everyone can actually sit down together without extracurricular activities or late meetings getting in the way. Likewise, going out to breakfast with your partner is often easier to schedule and bound to get your day off to a positive start.

Read more: Eating Breakfast Like a King Can Help You Lose Weight

5. Tackle the Hardest Task First
The best time to get your hardest task accomplished is 8 a.m. Photo Credit: Twenty20/@criene

5 Tackle the Hardest Task First

If you have a task hanging over your head that requires more willpower than you can muster, the trick is to focus on it at or just before 8 a.m., says author Laura Vanderkam. She notes how research suggests our willpower peaks at 8 a.m., usually following breakfast, and that the worst time to accomplish a difficult task is around 4 p.m. for the majority of us. “Your willpower is like a muscle that gets fatigued throughout the day,” she says. “If you can, try not to set your first meeting until after you’ve been at work for an hour or an hour-and-a-half so you can focus that time on getting those tasks done.”

6. Get Creative in the Morning
Practice your creative hobby in the morning to ensure it doesn’t get bumped for the day. Photo Credit: Twenty20/@criene

6 Get Creative in the Morning

Mornings are also the perfect time for any creative endeavors you’re pursuing. Author Laura Vanderkam suggests setting aside time in the morning for that novel you’re writing or the piano skills you’re set on improving. Finding the motivation to practice your craft is usually rare after a long workday when all you want to do is relax. When you’re tempted to hold off until you get home in the evening, repeat Vanderkam’s mantra: If it has to happen, it has to happen first. “If you keep saying you’ll get to it when you have the time or the energy, it will never happen,” she says.

Read more: How to Be More Creative in 9 Easy Steps

7. Unwind Just Before Bedtime
Setting a bedtime alarm can help encourage you to wind down and get a better night’s sleep. Photo Credit: Twenty20/@natalie4160

7 Unwind Just Before Bedtime

There’s no way around it: The key to a good day, a good mood and good health is a good night’s sleep. Just as you set an alarm to wake up in the morning, author Laura Vanderkam believes it’s imperative to set a bedtime alarm as well. Program it on your smartphone so that it goes off at the same time each night. And then leave the phone outside your bedroom or put it on silent or in airplane mode to ensure an undisturbed night of sleep. If you know it takes you some extra time to fall asleep, set that alarm for a good 30 minutes to an hour earlier than your bedtime to ensure you’re giving yourself plenty of time to unwind with a bath or a book.

Read more: 5 Simple Steps to Get the Best Night of Sleep Ever

8. Sleep Away the Unproductiveness
Sleep during your most unproductive hours to find more time in the day. Photo Credit: Twenty20/@duangbj

8 Sleep Away the Unproductiveness

Think about the most unproductive hours of your day. Do they usually involve catching up on a show (or two or three) that inevitably keeps you up later than you intended? If so, it may be time to crack down on your screen time and start gravitating toward bed even sooner (thanks to your new bedtime alarm). Author Laura Vanderkam has observed that the most successful people she interviewed for her book tend to take unproductive hours and put them toward sleep.

While 8:30 p.m. might seem like a ridiculously early bedtime for some, the upside is that it leads to a more fulfilling morning, which starts at 5 a.m. with you feeling completely rested and having three whole hours to meditate, exercise and enjoy a good book over coffee. “Find a way to do that and you’ll discover more time in your day,” she says.

9. Pay Attention to Your Relationships
Simply giving a compliment every day could be a boon to your relationships. Photo Credit: lorenzoantonucci/iStock/GettyImages

9 Pay Attention to Your Relationships

If an important relationship in your life is suffering, an otherwise good day instantly becomes diminished. Life coach Laurie Gerber’s favorite ritual in this department involves having at least one deep, loving conversation with her husband daily without interrupting him. She also makes it a point to French-kiss her husband each day.

Platonic and professional relationships are equally important to cultivate. Start by giving a compliment to a co-worker or a friend each day, and hold yourself accountable to make sure you follow through. “Put in a self-imposed consequence should you not keep your ritual. If you do not French-kiss your husband or compliment a co-worker daily, you lose your favorite nightly libation or TV show — whichever just made you cringe more,” says Gerber.

Read more: Why You and Your Best Friend Really Are of One Mind

10. Make the Time
The morning is the best opportunity to give yourself some quality time. Photo Credit: Twenty20/@bradneathery

10 Make the Time

It's easy to retreat to the excuse of “I don’t have time.” The truth is that you do. You just have to make the time. And one glaring area of your life that probably needs it most is time for just yourself. Again, morning is the ideal time to fit this in, says author Laura Vanderkam — even if it just means getting up 10 minutes before everyone else in the house to sip your coffee in peace. “Time in the morning is for yourself before the rest of the world invades. And, just like your bills, you need to pay yourself first before you pay others,” she says.

What Do YOU Think?
What are your favorite rituals? Photo Credit: YakobchukOlena/iStock/GettyImages

What Do YOU Think?

Do you have any rituals that are particularly effective for you? What are some of your favorites, and how do they impact your day when you forget to do them or don’t have time for them? Do you plan to try out any new rituals, including some that were mentioned here? Tell us in the comments!

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