The concept of reverse engineering has evolved from a manufacturing process, to a lifestyle optimization tool. In recent years, “Routine Hacking” has been adopted by Silicon Valley executives and professional athletes alike, with the common goal of getting the most out of each 24-hours.
Ask any white collar worker about their day, week, or year, and the word ‘busy’ is almost guaranteed to come up – and it’s no surprise either. In some capacity, we all have to balance a handful of priorities, many of which, contribute to our overall mental and emotional welfare. Maintaining order with respect to physical health, family life, social stimulation, financial prosperity, and work can be a daunting undertaking – furthermore, when one element of the above falters, the others tend to follow suit in some capacity. For example, neglecting your health may lead to chronic lethargy, which can be detrimental to work capacity and performance. Perform poorly for long enough, and you could be out of a job. Remain unemployed for long enough, and significant financial implications ensue, influencing family dynamics and the quality of your social life. The example given is an extreme case, but the principals of balance remain constant; if one falls, the rest may follow.
Why you should start hacking your routine
The goal of routine hacking is built on two equally important pillars: efficiency and balance. Efficiency refers to our work output, relative to the time it takes to complete a given task. Balance, as mentioned above, is a state of order with respect to life’s many priorities. Routine hacking allows you to plan your schedule to accommodate for all elements, while limiting major inconveniences and stress. The result is a more balanced and healthy lifestyle.
How to hack your routine:
1. Define your daily goals
Defining your daily goals is a great way to provide direction, fuel motivation, and once completed, gives us a sense of satisfaction. Use the SMART method to define goals that are – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.
2. Live on the fringe
Living on the fringe is one of the easiest ways to minimize time spent on low-value tasks; tasks that demand large sums of time, with minimal return on investment. Some examples include sitting in traffic or waiting for a specific machine at the gym. By working on a contrasting schedule to the general population, you can spend less time on the road or shuffling through other commuters to get a seat on the train, bus, or subway. At these times, gyms are less busy, restaurant lines tend to be shorter, and offices are quieter – allowing for increased productivity and work output.
3. Prepare ahead of time
“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” In many cases, this old idiom holds true. Insufficient preparation for a big presentation can cost you a contract, while forgetting to make reservations at that fancy restaurant for an anniversary or special occasion can cost you major points with your significant other. The point is that being forgetful or negligent can be very costly.
In regards to routine hacking, it’s recommended that you maintain an up to date calendar, plan for uncertainties, and prepare ahead of time for the next day or week; this includes, but is not limited to planning outfits, packing bags, and prepping meals.
4. Exercise in the morning
This one is optional but has profound physical and mental benefits that extend far beyond the confines of the gym. Training in the morning has been shown to elevate mood, increase perceived wakefulness, and can cultivate consistency. Aside from the numerous physical and mental benefits, morning sessions are often more efficient, as there are fewer members occupying the gym floor than during the evening rush.
Since implementing the tips above, I have noticed profound changes in my career and personal life. I now have more time to spend with my friend and family, I rarely miss workouts, and my productivity at work has skyrocketed. Waking up with a sense of purpose and direction allows me to gauge and measure different success metrics, while I continue making small changes to optimize my time and efforts. In addition to the advice noted in this article, I encourage you to find what works best for you and establish your own priorities before establishing a new routine.