Apply These 4 Secret Techniques To Master Your Daily Routine

08/20/2016 09:00 am ET Updated Aug 21, 2016

Cathryn Lavery, a 28 year old graphic designer, and Allen Brouwer, a 27 year old digital marketer, were both running businesses. But the running felt more like a treadmill than a trail. Despite the intensity of their efforts, the two felt like they were going nowhere.

They attributed this to their poor routine.

It was in desperate need of a reboot, so, over the course of two years, they studied every top performer they could in search of a solution. They looked into the routines of everyone from Tim Ferriss to Tony Robbins.

No expert was left unsolicited.

Pictured: Cathryn Lavery (left) and Allen Brouwer (right) at the NYSE
© New York Stock Exchange
Pictured: Cathryn Lavery (left) and Allen Brouwer (right) at the NYSE

Finally, after a great deal of research, the two developed a framework to follow and decided to put it to the test. The two entrepreneurs, using their newfound routine, started a Kickstarter project for a journal they always wanted to create. They set a minimum goal of raising $15,000 and a personal goal of raising $200,000.

They broke down everything from the marketing to the design into bite-sized, day-to-day action items and, within three months, raised $322,695 dollars. After the Kickstarter campaign, they created a Shopify store and entered their Build A Business competition on a whim.

Allen entered that very same competition years ago and lost. His re-entry would prove to be a life-changing decision. But more on that later. First, here are the 4 secret techniques they applied to master the routine that got them there.

1. Fill In The Gaps

“Big things don’t seem so big when you know how to structure and prioritize” says Allen. Having a long-term goal is great, but not sufficient. Pay more attention to how you fill in the small gaps between your goal setting and goal achieving.

“Big things don’t seem so big when you know how to structure and prioritize”

Otherwise, like a small crack on a windshield, those cracks will spread and grow into procrastination, doubt and failure. Break down your goals into daily and weekly achievables. This will help guide your performance and allow you to track your progress (or lack thereof) on a day-to-day basis.

2. Set Realistic Goals

“Most of the time, when people set goals there’s nothing measurable or specific, and that’s how they set themselves up for failure” says Cathryn. One of the most important components of a successful routine is goal-setting. But not the quasi-goal setting or half-baked platitudes you’ve probably read about in outdated “self-help” books. According to the pair, goals have to have five key components: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based.

“Most of the time, when people set goals there’s nothing measurable or specific, and that’s how they set themselves up for failure”

The more specific, the more clear your focus. If it’s measurable, you have a way to gauge progress. Deadlines promote a sense of urgency and action, and being realistic about your goals will make them that much easier to attain and, in turn, improve your confidence with every one you accomplish.

3. Do Your Worst, First

Setting a daily timeline full of productive tasks is critical. But more important than the tasks themselves is where they land on your timeline. Putting off your most cumbersome task for last will weigh on your mind throughout the day, taking away focus from your other key tasks.

So, whatever you’ve been putting off, stop running from it and start running towards it. The sooner you handle it, the sooner you’ll feel relief. Confront denial, identify your red flags and deal with them first thing in the morning. Not only will you feel better, but the very act of being in a proactive state versus a reactive state will make your decisions that much more effective.

4. Reflect And Appreciate

“Cultivate a habit of book ending your day with gratitude and reflection” recommends Allen. That’s because, nowadays, it’s not enough to just be good. You have to know what makes you good and why. Without that, you won’t be able to replicate and scale your successes into larger, long-term achievements.

“Cultivate a habit of book ending your day with gratitude and reflection”

It’s why Allen and Cathryn always say to end the day with reflection and gratitude. This means a deliberate attempt to articulate key lessons you learned that day and how they made your day more productive. On a daily basis, this translates into more confidence and, over time, even more learning and success.

By sticking to this daily framework, Cathryn and Allen exceed their sales goals with their most recent Kickstarter campaign and so much more. Remember I told you how Allen lost that Shopify competition years ago?

Well the two even went on to win the competition together this year.

Their prize? A sit down with two of the key people who inspired their whole routine revamp in the first place: Tim Ferriss and Tony Robbins. 

Pictured: Allen Brouwer celebrating at Shopify's Build A Business event
© Brian Ach / Associated Press
Pictured: Allen Brouwer celebrating at Shopify's Build A Business event

As you can imagine, for Allen it was a sweet, sweet victory.

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