For many people, not having a sense of direction very first thing in the morning means that the whole day is wasted. They need a strict routine.
Others are less inclined to have a strict routine, and prefer to keep things spontaneous. They know how to prioritize and get things done, but the single thought of doing the same thing every day makes their skin crawl.
So how do you manage a team’s routine when each team member is so diverse? Do you even need one? As it turns out, routines can be a powerful thing for team productivity.
The power of routines
For some of you, the word routine might have negative connotations. It might make you think of boring tasks and a myriad constraints.
But in fact, routines can help you clear up time during your day by removing the interruptions of trivial decisions. It might be as simple as always having your weekly lunch meeting in the same place, instead of trying to decide where to go every week.
A team routine might be as simple as offering your team members a set time during the day (or week) for quiet work. This will naturally allow your team members to settle everything else before or after their quiet work time.
Another way to establish a routine might be holding your morning huddle or weekly office meeting at the same time and place. This will get rid of time wasted and mental energy used on deciding when and where to have the meeting.
In fact, if your team members repeatedly ask themselves “when/how/where should we do this?”, you know you have the opportunity of setting up a routine.
Building routines as a team will also help your team have more of a sense of community - of shared goals. If you think about it, It’s kind of like being part of a family.
Especially in remote teams or teams with flexible schedules, routines play an important role. They build a sense of belonging to the team and working toward important goals together. They also allow team members to be accountable to each other by sticking to agreed schedules (for example, we'll Skype every morning at 10 am).
Routines and cognitive stamina
Routines have the power of improving cognitive stamina. In individuals, cognitive stamina is depleted the more decisions we make throughout the day. That’s why many people indulge in sugary and fatty foods at the end of the day, when their cognitive stamina is diminished.
I dare to say that cognitive stamina also exists in teams, and it affects their ability to collaborate, innovate and communicate well with each other. The more trivial decision making each team member has to do, the more their own cognitive stamina, and as a result the team’s, is depleted.
Routine and creativity
Most of us see routine as a detriment to creativity. To some extent, it’s true. There are periods of time when we naturally do feel less creative. In those instances, it might be a good idea to switch up our routine in order to boost our own creativity. Creativity usually stems from passion, and so activities that increase our passion for what we’re doing will also increase our creativity - both in individuals and teams.
But just as you can’t appreciate cleanliness without the mess, you also can’t appreciate what switching it up can do for you without knowing what a routine feels like. Switching it up when you don’t really have a routine to begin with will probably not have the same effects on creativity as breaking away from a routine.
Either way, you need the routine. But don't get hung up on sticking to it just for the sake of having a routine. Remember, rules that have no reason are just obstacles.
What routines have you established within your team? How have they affected your team productivity? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!