When you look at some of the most productive people in the world, they always have some great tips and ideas about how to adjust your morning routine. Whether it’s avoiding checking email right when you wake up and easing into your morning, or exercising, and practicing meditation, these are all good pieces of advice.
However, one thing I learned a few years back that still reigns true is the importance of starting your routine at night. While a morning routine can certainly help you get going and fueled for the day, an evening routine is likely more important.
Here are just a few reasons why you should prioritize your evening routine and how to develop a solid schedule at night.
It’s Important to Wind Down
Having an evening routine allows you to the time and space to physically and mentally decompress after a long day. Have you ever tried to go to bed with so many ideas racing through your head? Do you sometimes just crash and fall asleep even though you know there’s a sink full of dishes and a blank calendar for the next day?
It’s okay to fall off track sometimes, but you want to establish an evening routine that helps you tie up loose ends for the day and wind down. When your body is calm and settled around bedtime, it allows you to have much better sleep and wake up the next day feeling rested.
Research shows that not getting enough sleep can have some serious effects on your overall health as well as your memory and productivity.
Set Yourself Up For Success
Having an evening routine and performing evening rituals is hands down one of the best ways to set yourself up for success the following day. I can’t even count how many times I’ve spent mornings running around aimlessly wondering why I didn’t take the time to plan the night before.
It’s important to understand that what you do or don’t do at night will most likely affect your schedule the next day. Realize that your evening routine doesn’t have to be long or involved. However, you may want to start developing some evening rituals regularly to help you tighten up your schedule and get more done each week.
Relax and Unwind
Start your evening routine by relaxing and unwinding if you haven’t already. Narrow down a few hobbies or practices that help you feel truly relaxed. Try to avoid checking emails at night when you’re done working for the day and pick up a book or have a chat with a loved one.
You can also journal, meditate or do some light stretching. I like to take some evenings to practice self-care whether that means washing my face with a clay mask, taking a bath, touching up my nails, etc.
I prefer to read at night and journal as part of my morning routine, but you can choose to do what works best for you. In her book, Thrive, Arianna Huffington explained research that showed writing down a list of events for the day and what made you happy or express gratitude can help lower stress levels and give you a greater sense of calm at night.
Organize and Plan
Be sure to set aside some time to organize and plan during your evening routine. This is one of the most important aspects of setting yourself up for success the following day. I like to start with my space whether that involves clearing clutter from my desk at home or tidying up around the house for a few minutes. I’ll clean surfaces, sweep, and my husband and I have this rule that whoever is in charge of the dishes needs to clean them at night.
We don’t have a dishwasher unfortunately so we tend to tag team this chore at home. One bad habit we developed in the past was wiping out for the night and leaving the kitchen a mess. This often meant waking up and spending additional time tidying up. It made much better sense for us to stay on top of tasks like this and tidy up before bed so we could wake up to a clean and organized home.
Other tasks you may want to add to your evening routine include laying out your clothes for the next day (or the entire week) and packing or prepping your lunch.
You also want to plan for the next day and prioritize all your tasks. Determine how many hours you’ll be working, what you need to get done, important meetings, errands, and so on. It helps to go into the next day knowing you have a clear plan.
Turn Off the TV
Prepare for a good sleep by turning off the TV at least an hour before bed. I know how tempting it can be to watch television late into the night or even fall asleep with it on. Watching TV doesn’t do anything to boost your productivity and therefore shouldn’t be part of a productive evening routine. While you’re at it, you may want to avoid browsing on your phone before bed as well.
This doesn’t mean you have to eliminate all forms of fun and entertainment. Bill Gates is an avid reader and productive guru who admittedly spends an hour reading each night before bed. Former President Barrack Obama also reads at least 30 minutes before bed.
Choose Your Bedtime, Schedule Your Evening Routine
In my opinion, a good evening routine shouldn’t exceed 90 minutes. My evening routine is probably around an hour if I do most of the things on this list. Decide what time you want to go to bed then schedule your evening routine to 60-90 minutes before.
For example, if you plan to go to bed at 10 pm, you’ll want to start your evening routine around 9 pm or 8:30 pm. Realize that you can always switch things up depending on your schedule. I actually have a separate, more laid back evening routine for weekends.
The key is to find what works for you and stick to it. Prioritize your evening routine as much as (if not more than) your morning routine to start seeing the best results for your schedule and productivity.
Choncé Maddox is a professional writer who recently left her job in the web design industry to produce killer content and manage her own writing business full time. She is passionate about helping entrepreneurs be more productive and create a life they love by doing fulfilling work. On the side, she runs a podcast and blogs about getting out of debt at MyDebtEpiphany.com.