We know to expect plenty of change in the future of work. The remote working shift looks set to continue, just as technology advances change the roles we take on and the work we do.
So what are some of the things you can personally keep constant through all this upheaval?
These are the regular rituals that are done intentionally as part of your daily work schedule.
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We’re not talking about the ‘morning routine’ style rituals, those inspired by various successful types who suggest you exercise, meditate, journal, read and whip up a green smoothie all before 6am.
If you can get some of those into your morning, then great.
Rather, let’s look at some of the standard rituals that can help you get more out of your working hours: things that can aid you in staying focused, productive, creative and inspired, especially as you’re dealing with more digital distractions, remote work and upheaval in your industry.
Daily ‘deep work’
Coined by Cal Newport, ‘deep work’ is an excellent ritual to bring into your daily work routine.
It’s about dedicating a specific period of distraction-free time (say one to two hours a day, either taken together or separately) to focus on a single and cognitively demanding task.
The idea is to be able to tick off on those big and challenging things that you might be putting off, or to simply get stuck into any tasks that require considerably more attention and discipline, like writing.
Deep work involves shutting off interrupting alerts, like phone calls, emails, instant messages and social media. And, where possible, it means creating a period of time that’s free from other team members asking anything from you.
Some of the most successful people in recent history, including Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Oprah Winfrey, have credited at least part of what they have achieved to their reading habit.
Bill Gates reads an average 50 books a year, saying “every book teaches me something”.
Warren Buffett spends the majority of his day reading, and reportedly suggests that those aiming to follow his success read a massive 500 pages a day.
Okay, so that’s probably unrealistic for most of us. But even a short ritual of daily reading – 5 or 15 minutes – will yield some benefits over the long run.
Reading is a path to finding more inspiration, new ways of doing things, and helping to ensure you’re consistently learning and taking on new knowledge.
Reading also offers a great way to connect with other people, to share knowledge and ideas you’ve learnt or otherwise to try and relate to a client or colleague over a book that you’ve both enjoyed.
If you’re looking for inspiration, you can check out Bill Gates’ 5 holiday reads for 2020. There’s also Oprah Winfrey’s top list of books for 2020, and Bloomberg’s list of top business books from the year.
Creative thinking time
In a world of increased automation and AI, there’s going to be a lot of space and demand for the skills that robots can’t (yet) replace, like creativity.
So think about how you can bring deliberate periods of creativity into your daily schedule, either in or outside of work hours.
A creative ritual can take many formats. It could be locking away time to pursue a creative interest or hobby, or rather specifically dedicating controlled periods of ‘thinking time’ into your work day in order to think through challenges and ideas related to your work, career or some kind of future projects or plans.
And creativity brings more creativity. It’s something that gets better, easier and more enjoyable with practice. So make it a daily ritual.
Bringing movement into your work day is essential if you’re spending most of your time desk bound and in front of a screen.
This isn’t about your weekly exercise – that’s a different kind of routine – rather it’s about finding ways to ensure you’re not spending hours in screen-induced stability.
Movement rituals could include hourly breaks to stand and take a lap around the hallway. It may mean dedicated walks around the block at lunch time.
Or this movement ritual could include choosing to take at least one call or meeting a day while walking.
Whatever it is, make movement a ritual that’s sacred and essential to your day – regardless of how busy you are.
Think about the 80/20 rule – all the time
How much of your day is lost to stuff you just do, that doesn’t particularly yield much result?
Creating new daily rituals related to The 80/20 Rule, also known as The Pareto Principle, will help, and it’s particularly essential as we’re being asked to participate and do more things related to work, like business development and social media.
The ‘Rule’ is about acknowledging that 80 per cent of your outcomes stems from 20 per cent of your input – a “universal truth” as its creator, Vilfredo Federico Damaso Pareto, put it.
The trick is to find ways to prioritise and maximise that 20 per cent.
That may mean aiming to focus on your top clients, or the key projects of yours that result in increased revenue. It could be about reducing decision fatigue, by removing the majority or choices you have to make and sticking to the things you use more than anything else.
The ritual to take on is to keep the rule in mind, continuously.
Asking yourself what side of the equation each activity you participate in falls into, and therefore how you might be able to eliminate it if it’s not on the side of creating results.
Set aside 10 minutes to plan your day
Plenty of us already follow this ritual: we write a to-do list, lose track of it half an hour later and then get to the end of the day annoyed and wondering why we failed to tick off so much of it.
It’s time to rethink this ritual and take an intentional period of time to mentally plan your day.
Dedicate a good 10 minutes (timed if necessary) to really thinking through how to spend the time available – and determining where things can be put off, outsourced, eliminated or removed from the ‘to do’ list all together.
This is the time to decide the most important areas to spend your time on, as well as when you’ll get your ‘deep work’ done.
It’s where you prioritise what really needs to get done, and then aim to edit out the things that are simply unnecessary — applying the 80/20 rule where needed.
Schedule in this ten minute planning ritual and force yourself to do nothing else but plan how you’re going to spend your day. Ten minutes first thing in the morning could save you hours later on.
‘Go to bed a little smarter each day’
This is the Warren Buffett formula for success. And it’s something that can be achieved through some of the rituals listed above and/or by finding other routines enabling you to bring learning and development into your day.
It’s a great goal to aim for each day – ensuring you’re progressing on something, even if it’s only minuscule, meaning you’ll find success and achievement in even the crappiest of days.
But the best thing, as Buffett explains, is that knowledge builds up over time, much like the power of compounding interest.
Angela Priestley is a Yahoo Finance contributor, writing on family finances and juggling work with kids. She is the founding editor of Women’s Agenda, co-founder of Agenda Media and a mum of three young boys.
This is part six of our Jobs 2021 series, where Yahoo Finance is exploring how to succeed in the next decade: earn more, lead better and win in the next decade of work.