As the famed bumper sticker says, “Sh!t happens!” Bookending your day with routines provides necessary structure but leaves enough flexibility in the middle of your day to deal with that often messy thing we call life.

Not just any bookend routines will do, however, because not all routines are made up of positive habits. If you don’t create your routines with intentionality, they could steer you away from your goals instead of toward them.

Watching Comedy Central late into the night is probably not going to help you grow your business. It’s fine to indulge in such entertainment late at night, but if you make it a habit instead of a once-in-awhile, compounded over time, you’ll be reaping your choice’s rewards in the form of more stress and exhaustion. Instead, create four bookend routines designed to keep your actions aligned with your goals, even when the occasional storm rocks your boat.

Personal Morning Routine
Invest in yourself from the minute you wake up. Brush your teeth. Take a shower. Eat an energizing breakfast. When you don’t take care of yourself, your work and other areas of your life inevitably suffer. Set yourself up for a productive and successful day by starting it off with good habits centered around self-care.

Also establish habits that will help you achieve your personal goals such as expanding your mind, exercising your body, or writing a book. Slow and steady wins the race. By investing small, consistent amounts of time into yourself, you will create the results you desire in your life over time. Getting started on each task should become just as second nature as brushing your teeth. Regardless of intention, daily habits breed outcomes. Make sure they’re positive results.

Business Morning Routine
When you first arrive at your office each morning, do you check in with your assistant? Check emails? Browse social media? Identify the habits that currently make up your morning business routine then make tweaks based upon your goals. Aim for being the most productive. That may mean making calls or reviewing existing projects right away and leaving social media browsing for your first scheduled break. You might find that some of the habits you’ve built into your routine would be best interchanged with habits you do in the evening when you have more or less energy depending on your own ultradian rhythms. Establish your routine to work for you but include habits that build the foundation for a productive, efficient, and organized day.

Business Evening Routine
No matter what habits you decide to create or tweak for this routine include a daily review. It should be completed before you leave the office each evening and include such actionables as reviewing your current day’s calendar and tasks, previewing your following day’s calendar and tasks, and making adjustments as called for. Completing a daily review consistently will ensure you tie up loose ends and set yourself up to conquer each following day with a plan of attack.

Other rewarding habits at the end of your work day include processing your emails one final time and clearing off your desk. Especially for those real estate professionals struggling with organization and clutter, spending just ten minutes clearing your desk will enable you to come in the next morning with a clean slate. You could then arrive fresh and focus on what you want to work on instead of the overwhelming piles of paper and office supplies overtaking your desk.

Personal Evening Routine
Identify the habits within your personal evening routine then analyze what is and what is not working for you. You might watch a recorded show, brush your teeth, walk your dog, or read. All of those activities are habits, possibly good, possibly bad. If having a loving and lasting marriage is a personal goal of yours, consider making spending quality time with your spouse part of your routine. Nurturing that relationship consistently will no doubt improve its quality and potential to last. Just as in business, your actions must match your goals.

Bookending your day with structured morning and evening routines is the perfect compromise to a fully planned out day. It provides wiggle room to accommodate life’s little surprises and prevents your day from getting away from you. Work backward from your bigger vision to determine what you need to do on a daily basis to ensure you’ll achieve that ultimate goal. Then, consistently engage in those carefully constructed habits at the beginning and end of each day to stay on your path to success.