Top 3 Reasons Why Routines Work @ Work

The busy fall season has officially begun. Summer always seems to slip by as fast as sand slips through my sandals. And while I love the relaxed tone of summer, I can’t help but welcome fall.

Its routine is both predictable and comforting.

Here are my top three reasons why routines help us be more productive:

1) A routine protects time for our top priorities

Most people are pretty clear about their top priorities. (e.g., I am committed to fitness.)

The difficult part is in making time for these top priorities. (But I haven’t seen my running shoes in months.)

A routine helps to protect time for our top priorities. We block off time for our team, clients and miscellaneous tasks. A routine also keeps us proactive and grounded. The opposite approach often leads to the feeling that there is never enough time.

Establishing a routine is often easier than we think. I was recently chatting with a senior executive who protects two hours every day over lunch to get through his emails (and eat). His equally busy colleagues were amazed at his ability to make this happen. But once they realized that it was possible, they soon started doing the same thing.

2) A routine keeps us focused

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We face countless distractions on the job. Days can fly by, and despite our “busyness” we can feel as though we didn’t get any real work done.

A routine helps us stay focused, despite all of the other things vying for our attention. It’s like booking a meeting with ourselves – and allowing ourselves the same uninterrupted time that we grant to others.

A great routine also protects time for all of the people, emails and phone calls that need our attention. In reality, these other things can act as a welcomed break.

3) A routine simplifies our lives

Let’s face it: work can be hard enough already. Anything that simplifies our work day is welcomed.

A routine mitigates procrastination by eliminating decision points in our day (i.e., “what should I work on next?”). A routine acts as a guide by assigning different parts of our day to different types of work.

A routine also helps to manage expectations. We are more aware of when we have time to work on things, and therefore are more realistic about our commitments and deadlines.

Finally, a routine helps to break our day into smaller chunks. This reinforces how precious time is. When we focus on shorter time periods, we are more likely to make the time count.

Still skeptical?

There is no doubt about it – a routine also needs to be flexible. If your boss books a meeting at 1pm, it probably would not be wise to turn it down because that is your “email catch-up” time.

But despite the occasional adjustments, establishing a routine can be one of the most powerful things that we can do to be productive.

 Thanks for your time,


By | 2017-07-08T15:50:01+00:00 September 19th, 2012|Schedule Management|5 Comments


  1. Julie Cole September 20, 2012 at 2:40 am - Reply

    Great points – I find I function best when my family and my work is in a routine (summer was fun….but….). However, with so many distractions and plan changes it can be a challenge. Thanks for the reminder!!

  2. Ann Gomez September 20, 2012 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    So true! Routines are definitely necessary when balancing busy work and home lives. Glad that this resonated for you.

  3. Mark Ellwood October 6, 2012 at 4:12 am - Reply

    Good article on routines.

    A couple of time use researchers have looked at “regularity.” For instance, most people have a routine of sleeping between midnight and 6:00 a.m.. If one has time stamp data, one can demonstrate this empirically.

    In the workplace, employees also establish routines. Going for lunch usually happens around the same time. We’ve seen this in our corporate time studies where employees track their time with our TimeCorder device.

    So consider this: if one is able to establish a regular routine for lunch or coffee breaks or staff meetings, one should be able to apply the same planning to other activities, creating routines.

  4. Charlotte Davis October 19, 2016 at 2:21 pm - Reply

    Good article Ann! Having worked at an engineering company for over 5 years, I learned to love routine, structure and process. in addition to allowing you just get things done, I found that it actually helped foster creativity and innovation. That seemed counter-intuitive to me until I experienced it.

    • Ann Gomez October 20, 2016 at 2:37 am - Reply

      Thanks Charlotte! We completely agree.

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