The Power of Daily Routines

Jan 15, 2014, Written by Sue Miley

Emma smilingToday is really difficult.  You see we have a morning routine.  Me and the dogs.  I walk them first thing.  Even before I make coffee.  I know it is awful.

After I walk them they get their one small Dingo bone.  It is like their reward for dragging me out of bed.  It’s a celebration.  Every day.But we do this every day, home or away, rain or shine.

They get their bones and run back into the bedroom to show my husband.  Yes, everyday.

And then, if and only if I am sitting in the den, they come back and eat their bone.  If I’m not sitting down, they come find me and whine until I come keep them company.

Today we have to break the routine.

Breaking Routines – For Good Reasons

I know this in advance because my daughter scheduled one of them to have their teeth cleaned. Can you believe it’s a surgery?  Yes, to have a dog’s teeth cleaned requires them to be put to sleep.

This means no food (or Dingo bones) before going to the vet for Bella.  Which means no food or Dingo bones for Emma, because that just wouldn’t be fair!

So today, I stay in bed.  I still have to get ready for work and do my thing without them knowing it is time to get up.  I leave all of the lights off and sneak to get my coffee.  Then I bring it back to bed and start looking at my iPad with the light dimmed on the screen.

This lasts about 20 minutes.

They are on to me.

I have to take them out anyway, but I dread the anticipatory look once they have achieved their mission.

People without pets may not quite understand this.  Bit I think you might.  Why?  Because as a small business owner we often have ways of doing things that we just hate to change.

Like Taking a Bone from a Dog

Routines are important. They make tasks easier. We don’t have to think so hard. We don’t have to make and re-make decisions. We don’t have to wonder about the outcome so much. We just go on auto pilot. It is predictable and, actually, comforting. Sometimes, we think that following our routine is the ‘only’ way we’ll get anything accomplished.

But just because you have a routine or process – just because we get some things accomplished – doesn’t mean that we are getting good results. And, sometimes a routine that is good at one time in your business can become less effective as your business evolves. Even if we can see that a routine needs to be changed in order to do something more important, or more effective, they can still be really hard to change. Yes, like taking a bone from a dog.

Here is an example.  Maybe you have set goals to get out of the office more and make more customer calls.  But once you go to the office to check on things first, you never get back out.

Someone suggests you leave from your house to make calls and you look at them like they have three eyes.

“I have to go get the office going first.”

“Why?”

“Because they need to get started.”

“They won’t start without you?”

You contemplate the words that are being said but the next day you go into the office first.

What is your morning routine?

Here is an exercise. Write down your morning work routine. What do you do to get your work day started? Be specific. Be honest. Now, write down the three most important things you could accomplish in a day that will help your business bring in revenue, grow, become more efficient. Are you doing any of those things first thing in your day? Should you be?

Here are some other routines we typically have as small business owners that need to be periodically re-examined:

  1. Our recruiting and hiring process. Maybe you only know one way to do this – or have a kind of routine. Is it effective? Does it need an upgrade?
  2. Email communication. When and how do you read and respond to email? Is it efficient? Could it be faster? How much of your total day does it take?
  3. Prospecting for new business. What do you ‘usually’ do to try to get new business for ‘next month?’ How well is it working? Are there other sales methods you could explore?

It’s a new year and a good time for many of us to make changes, or start with a clean slate. I want to challenge all of us to evaluate the habits and routines we take for granted and make sure they serve us well.

Hopefully it won’t be as hard for you to change as it is for me to break my dogs’ routine.

I can’t wait to get home from work today and give my dogs a couple of Dingo bones.

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.