Everyone who knows me knows that I love being a morning person. I’ve trained myself to get up early and do my best to get off to a productive start for the day. As a freelancer, I also set my own schedule and often very flexible.
With everyone being at home a lot more now and having kids around the house, I find myself working a lot of split shifts. This means I may get up really early before everyone else is awake and knock out some work. Then, I’ll help with school and other activities around the house during the day and do an hour or two of work in the evening.
I know that this schedule is only temporary and I may not always work in the evening. However, it’s a reality that myself and a lot of other parents are facing right now. So how do you be more productive in the evening especially when you’re used to getting the bulk of your work done during the day?
Whether you’re looking to have a productive power hour during the evening or simply get some household tasks done these steps will help you be more productive in the evening.
Plan Out Your Evening Carefully
Just as you would plan out your morning or daytime work schedule, be sure to keep your evening structured and planned out as well. I don’t just sit down at my computer for an evening work session with no plan.
I look at my schedule and determine one or two specific tasks that I’m going to complete and make sure they’re actually action steps. It’s important to have a clear plan and know what results you’re looking for if you’re trying to be more productive in the evening. That way, you don’t waste time and energy trying to figure out what you need to do.
Clear Your Space and Your Head
In my household, we do something called a ‘clean sweep’ which is meant to be a quick 10 to 15 minute period spent picking up things around the house. It’s not meant to be a long deep clean but rather a quick moment in the day to tidy up. Why?
I often feel more productive and organized with a clean space. My guess is you do too. So pick one or two areas of your home – perhaps the area you’ll be doing some work in – and focus on tidying up and putting things back in their proper space. If you have a designated workspace at home, you can have multiple clean sweeps throughout the day to help you stay on track. Plus, you’ll have less to clean and fix up in the morning.
If you’re trying to be more productive in the evening, you may realize that you have different distractions than the ones that were there during the day. As someone who works from home, I know that distractions like receiving a business phone call or a package at my door don’t really exist in the evening, but other distractions like television and kids running around are bound to happen.
Get ahead of these distractions by minimizing them as much as possible. Place your phone in another room or put it on airplane mode. Put your kids to sleep around 8 pm so you can work on something productive for the next 90 minutes then proceed with your evening routine. If you’re trying to focus on a specific project, take it to a quiet place in the house.
There’s no use in trying to pretend that distractions don’t exist and they won’t affect you. Get ahead of yourself by managing distractions so they don’t ruin your evenings.
Break the Task Up By Time Blocking
Don’t set unrealistic expectations during your evening work or think that you’ll always be able to get everything done. Instead, break up important tasks based on the set time blocks you have available. For example, say you do put your kids down to sleep around 8 pm and you still want to be in bed by 10 pm. If your evening routine will take around 30 minutes, that means you’ll be able to work until 9:30 pm so you have 1.5 hours.
Or, perhaps you’re planning to take an hour from 5 pm to 6 pm to work on something productive before dinner. Take the time block you have and consider how much of the task you can realistically get done in that time slot. If you have to, break the task up over several days and go one step at a time. As long you know what your end result is and have broken your work up into pieces, you’ll be productive and continue making progress during each scheduled evening session.
Don’t Forego Your Sleep or Nightly Routine
Even if you’re doing more work in the evening, be sure not to give up too many precious hours of your sleep or forego your nightly routine. You still need at least 8 hours of sleep so this just often means you can start your evening activities earlier.
You can even shorten your nightly routine to accommodate your new evening schedule. Choose the top 3 to 4 tasks you’d like to include in your nightly routine and stick to it. Even if you just give yourself 20 to 30 minutes to wind down before bed, it will definitely be worth it.
Plus, you can always replace unproductive evening routines and activities to free up more time. If you watch 3 hours of TV per night, limit yourself to just 1 hour of TV and you’ll instantly get 2 hours to do other things.
Nevertheless, you can still be more productive in the evening and get the right amount of sleep?
Are you finding yourself doing more important tasks in the evening even if you’re more of a morning person? Which one of these steps resonates most with you?