Building Routines to Maximize Productivity and Reach Your Goals

I was speaking with one of my mentees, Graham, regarding a debrief I did on routines.

I was a bit frustrated, because while I did go into my specific routines, I didn’t get as much into the “why” as I wanted to.

Graham said I should just podcast it, so kudos to him for inspiring this talk.

I think routines are essential in helping you both maximize productivity and reaching your goals. They take a lot of the guesswork and decision-making out of your day, and allow you to focus on what’s important.

If you want some tips and ideas on routines, check out the podcast below, in which we talk about:

  • The two reasons routines are essential
  • Why you need goals to build your routines around
  • Examples of some successful routines I’ve used
  • When to and when not to use automation and routines to continue progressing your goals.

Go ahead and check it out, or if you’d rather, you can catch the modified transcript below:

Zac Cupples iTunes                

Here are the links I mentioned:

Movement Debrief on Routines

Red light bulbs

True Dark glasses

Modified Transcript


The topic we will talk about today is going to be routines, habits, and priorities. Not in that order; I might mix it up a little bit you know what I’m sizzlin’.

What inspired this talk was the questions that I had gotten on a previous debrief from Allen Tucker . He wanted to know a little bit about some of my daily routines, and I was telling my mentee Graham that there are a few things just didn’t say.

Because, you know with them debrief that stuff be all off the top of the dome, like I’d be on some Big L shit, and he’s like well why don’t you just do like a little something-something about it. So kudos Graham for making that suggestion.

Big L rest in peace

In this debrief, I went into how I did things and what my routines look like, but what I probably didn’t do as good of a job doing is my why’s for these routines; and why I think they are so important so let’s dive in!

There’s really two keys that I think about when I’m establishing a given routine and why they’re important:

One: Routines keep your priorities in check.

If you are wasting time doing frivolous things that aren’t helping move the needle towards your goals because of inefficiencies within a routine, then you’re not going to live the life you want to live.

There’s certain things I want to establish with my life and goals that I want to meet in order to live a happy, long, and fruitful life.

Two: Routines reduce the amount of decisions you have to make

If you are making a decision such as needing to shower in the morning, what to wear, what to eat for breakfast, etc; then you’ve already made several unimportant decisions. When it comes to crunch time whether, it’s avoiding the donut at work or staying away from that honey or that homeboy that you know you don’t want to be with, or buying a car and trying to negotiate, you’re not going to make a good decision.

You want to try to minimize the number of decisions you make, so when you have to make an important decision you can make the best decision that you can given the information that you have.

If you’ve already made several decisions over the course of your day, and it comes time for that big decision, you’re just not going to have the willpower. You’re going to be tired, and you’re not going to make the best decision that you could.

When I Built My Routines

I really didn’t get into establishing these routines as effectively they are now until I was fired by the Grizzlies. That was a big reality check, and I’m kind of one of those people who really thrives through bad things in life. I’ve eaten my fair share of shit sandwiches, and this was a big one, and it really helped me reflect on what was important in my life. What I needed to do from here to be happy and live the little kind of life I want to live, which is becoming debt-free, driving Aston Martin’s, flying first class and working with people the way I want to.

Vein? Absolutely, but how else will I become the James Bond of the industry?

I want to be able to give the the type of care that we gave in the NBA to people who can’t afford it. I think it would be very cool like if you had a cat who had a stroke and I could do their PT, strength and conditioning, functional medicine, bought their groceries, and all the other things that could give them the best outcome possible.

It makes my loins quiver thinking about it.

With that in mind I had to think about how can I most effectively reach those goals, and there were really three things that I think I needed to focus on and prioritize in order to make that happen:

  1. Rebuild
  2. Paying off my student loans
  3. Become as healthy and fit as possible


With these three things in my line of sites at all times it made it much easier to eliminate things that were not helping me move the needle towards those goals. Thus, I  revamped my routines so I could maximize everything in my life possible to meet those goals.

Structuring Life to Meet Your Goals

It’s very simple:

Eliminate distractions or things that would detract from your goals.

That’s the crux of the morning routine. I try to incorporate things that will help me move the needle in each of those categories. For example, every time I get up first thing I do is do my bidness in the bathroom. Then I weigh myself because that helps me keep on track with my health and fitness goals. I also have to do a bunch of supplements because Dave Rascoe is making me do a bunch of supplements and other things so I can be healthier.

A lot of my blog work  is done in the morning,  so I spend a lot of time writing because the content I produce is going to move the needle in so many ways. It helps satisfy my my teaching and my learning bug, it’s going to help me reduce my student loan debt, it’s going to help me get to the point where I could start treating people the way I want in the context that I want.


The morning work doesn’t have to be something big. I could just do the weekend learning goodies or it could be me editing five minutes of my product, as long as I’m moving the needle then I know I’m on the right track.

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The same thing happens at night. That doesn’t mean that I’m working on things until the wee hours but I’m making sure that I set up my evening routine so I can get adequate and good quality sleep, which is important from a health standpoint no doubt, but also so I can do better quality work for my blog. I’m going to be less prone to making silly decisions with my money so I can spend more money my student loans.

I try to set up my evening routine in such a manner that I can support my goals by eliminating blue light as quickly as possible.

I was having a hard time sleeping and it was because my room was incredibly bright despite wearing UVEX glasses. I knew I needed to change something about this routine because it wasn’t working. What I ended up doing was buying two red lights light bulbs and then I took the two bright light bulbs out and kept one of the white light bulbs. That way when it’s daytime I still have that option and just by making that little tweak and then unscrewing the white light bulb at 7pm I improved my sleep.


Also, because the place that I live is well-lit,  I needed to get something that blocked blue light better than the UVEX glasses.  I ended up buying true darks, which block a few extra nanometers on the light spectrum. They’ve made a huge difference.  I can tolerate light a little bit more effectively. Even working on my computer for longer periods of time has been much better, and my sleep quality has improved because of it.

Typically if I get any reading done, which I have to admit has suffered to a degree because of the three goals that I have in place, but I typically read before I go to bed.  Reading is a relaxing activity ,even if I’m reading something that’s somewhat technical, and it’s less strain on the eyes than being on screen. Reading at night also does help me meet some of my goals because reading a book is always going to enhance your life in some way, shape, or form.

Working out is also a daily routine except on the weekends, but I try to work out during the middle of my day and I do that for a couple reasons. One, it signals transition into afternoon and evening routines. Two, I was finding myself getting a little bit tired at the end of the day.

I play a character all day with my patients and I act goofy and such. I found that I wasn’t doing that as well with some of my evening clients, and I wanted to do a better job of that. Working out in the middle of the day did wonders for me in terms of upping my energy levels. More energy means less decision fatigue, more productivity, and more.


Using Large Blocks to Enhance Productivity

If I’m working on something, whether it’s my blog or whether it’s some of the online services that I offer, I try to chunk those into certain portions over a day and weekends are a prime example of that.

Friday and Sunday I am doing a ton of movement consultations, mentorship sessions, around working with different training clients. The reason why I do that is because there’s a certain frame of mind that I try to put myself in when I’m working in the online mode, and I find that if I do that in one day instead of  spreading it over the course of several days, I do a much better job with my clientele.

Although my appointments are typically 60 minutes, I block out 90 minutes on my calendar. That way I have a little bit of a chill time after the fact to reflect on what I’ve done with that person, how I can do better next time, what that person needs, and finish any other paperwork.

I think that reflecting and thinking through things is something we don’t do enough. We spend a lot more time consuming and a lot less time creating and reflecting.

Deep thoughts, by Zac Cupples

Saturday, unless I’m hiking, is typically blog time, so I’ll either be working on something for the blog, a product, or whatever helps move the needle towards my goals.

Separating Tasks Based On Cognitive Demands

My blog-work is broken up into creating mode or editing mode, and I do not do those two things on the same day. They require a different frame of mind. A different thought process. When I’m writing I just go and I try to get it done. I then let it chill for the rest of the day. The next day I’ll edit it and the reason why I can do that is because I can look at things with fresh eyes and see how I could have worded things better.

Using Routines to Squash Time-Wasters


You can see that the common theme with all of them is it always comes back to what I prioritize, because if you waver from those you’re screwed. One thing that I sometimes waver with, and taken preventative measures with, is email and social media.

If you ever email me, you’re gonna get this thing that looks like this:

Hello friend,
Due to a high workload and in order to maximize productivity and efficiency, I am currently checking and responding to emails around 12-1pm Arizona time Monday through Thursday. Friday through Sunday, email will be checked sparingly.
If you require urgent assistance that cannot wait until 12-1pm, please contact me on my cell phone. If you do not have my number, thank you for your patience.
Thank you for your understanding regarding this move towards more efficiency and effectiveness. It will ultimately allow me to accomplish more to better help you.


I try not to answer emails throughout the day, or at the very least I try to at least only limit my email answering and viewing to an hour a day, because I find that if I continue to answer emails over and over and over again I end up not getting stuff done. I get distracted. Problems ensue.

The same goes for social media. I have people who pester me that I’m not that good at social media, and probably because I try to limit how much I check it one, but also because I haven’t put it into routine. If I get on social media, I am a type of cat who gets sucked down the rabbit hole very easily. Before you know it,  I’ve been staring at the cats of Instagram for 35 minutes.

Typically the yell I give when I fall into this trap

I try to limit my time into specific blocks on those mediums. Early in my day, I will do some social media to post what the latest blog is, and then I typically will either check social in between patients or after I’ve finished my emails, and that’s really the extent to which I look at social media. I know who I am and I know I will get sucked down the rabbit hole.

Breaking from Automation to Reach Your Goals

Now there’s one thing I do that is routine but not automated, and that’s paying particular bills. I found that doing this has been incredibly helpful in motivating me to continuing tackling my student loan debt.

If you follow most financial gurus, a lot of them will suggest automating all your bills. For most of my bills, credit cards, and retirement savings I do that.

But there’s two bills in particular that I make sure I pay every Friday: my credit card and my student loans.

Here’s why:

I used to do a budget, but I found that it was a hassle. Even though I tracked what my budget was, I would still go over budget on things, and so clearly that didn’t work for me. What I do now is I pay my credit card off weekly. Seeing how much I spent on Friday gives me a litmus test of where I’m at. I could spend whatever I want as long as I’m paying that bill off and I’m paying money on my student loans. It also tells me that if I spent a little bit more money this week, I may need to cut back on maybe buying so many damn books from Amazon or modifying my spending in some way.

At least that’s what I tell myself

I prioritize what I what I do what I spend on, and I try not to waste my money on things that I don’t.

The other thing that I make sure I pay manually is my student loans. The reason why I do that is because if I pay that bill every Friday, and I see that number drop, it keeps me going.

Every time I pay my student loans I have that sick twisted yet oh so wonderful vision in my mind. I see all the people at Myfedloan, the bastards, start to quiver. “Oh my god, Zac is paying his loans ahead again.” Susie, the kid the president of Myfedloan can’t get a Christmas present this year. That chick in customer service can’t get her Starbucks grande latte today. The custodian got let go, and why?  Because Zac Cupples paid on his student loans.

Out of pure spite.

Of pure hatred for my transgressions and my silliness with the student loans.

That keeps me going.

And every time I see that that number drop, I know I’m doing the right thing. Though it’s routine, I make sure it’s not automated so I can stay motivated to meet a very big goal in face of a very large number.

Sum Up

Really, that’s all I can think of in regards to routines that I missed.

So to summarize what I spoke about:

  • Routines and good habits keep your goals and priorities on the forefront
  • Routines are essential at reducing decision fatigue
  • Routine structure should always consider moving the needle towards your goals
  • Automate things that will steal cognitive resources
  • Use actions to reinforce reaching goals

How do you use routines to meet your goals? Comment below and let us know.

Photo Credits

Will stunting


Anasta NSG

Unknownnet Photography