By Michael Holland 

Creating rituals and habits in your life enable you to be much more efficient and effective. Many studies and books – The Power of Habit is a great one – delve into the inner workings of our brain and the role it plays in creating habits. The short story is that our brains are always looking to save energy.

When you think of habits, think of them as single action you do over and over again.

When you think of rituals, think of them as a prescribed path or system or process containing multiple habits.

Most of the habits and rituals we do follow we do so unconsciously and may be productive or potentially counterproductive.  Being intentional in creating habits and rituals can enable us to leverage our time, energy and talents.

I’ve found over the last several years, that adding rituals – and their included habits – into my day have enabled me to be more efficient and effective.  Specifically, I’ve created a morning ramp up ritual and an afternoon ramp down ritual.

Here’s my ramp-up ritual for the day after I’ve worked out and taken care of personal things like eating, praying, etc. . . .

  • Journal – I make an entry every day which may be a sentence or two or multiple paragraphs. I read my journal entries for that same day of the year from prior years.
  • Read Goals – I read the headline for each of my remaining goals for this year and for the current season I’m in which I call my 7 Week Jaunt.
  • Cleanse Inbox – I process my email inbox down to zero emails. I either complete the task from the email, delegate it or create a to do in my task management system.
  • List Appointments – On my Today’s Goals note in Evernote (my digital brain), I list each of my coaching sessions, meetings, appointments, etc.
  • Top Three -On my Today’s Goals note, I either review/adjust the top three things I need to accomplish in the day that I created the previous day or create new top threes.

Here’s my ramp down for the day which I usually begin at 5:00 pm . . .

  • Scan – I scan any paper notes I created from the day into Evernote and create any necessary tasks in my task management system.
  • Cleanup – I delete completed tasks from my Today’s Goals note. I copy and paste tasks from my Week Of note which were pre-planned (during my weekly ritual) to be accomplished on that next day.
  • Create Tasks – I quickly review coaching sessions, meetings, appointments, etc. I attended during the day and Slack (a cloud-based team collaboration tool we use) for anything that came through that needs a task created in my task management system that may have been missed.
  • Extra Ramp Down Items – These are things I may do during ramp down if time permits and/or are applicable
    • Employee Journal – I create short notes in specific employee journals (within my Evernote) on special conversations, accomplishments, insights, stumbles, etc. for the particular team member.
    • Zoho – I update our firm’s CRM with key notes on contacts and/or potential projects.
    • Forecast – I remove any training sessions from our forecasting tool for work our team has delivered that day.
    • Top Three – I write down the top three things I need to accomplish the following day.

I’m certainly not perfect with these rituals but my trend line is very good over time.  Being intentional in my rituals makes the best use of my time, energy and talents.

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • What are some rituals you follow every day? Are they intentional?
  • What single habit would you like to create as a leader?
  • Grab two peers and over lunch discuss the habits and rituals you see in each other and perceived impact – positive or negative.