What do many high achievers have in common? A productive Night Time Routine that closes their day on a positive note and sets them up for success the following morning. Many people have morning routines due purely to the necessity of time – they are rushed and need to do a number of things before getting out the door. The evening is a little more relaxed (hopefully), but just as important. It’s time you began an evening routine that allows you to unwind, prepares you for a great night’s sleep, and gives you a head start on tomorrow.
A Night Time Routine
First a little digression – Be kind to your future self. It’s important to understand we only have a finite amount of mental energy. It is used up on every little decision we make throughout the day and once it’s gone, your motivation and discipline suffers. After a long day there isn’t much gas left in the tank, which is why once you sit down in front of the television it’s hard to get up and do anything else after. Why do I mention the concept of Mental Energy? Because by making your nighttime rituals into a habit or routine, you can just run on autopilot and still be productive.
With this said…a word of warning! Here are just of few of the distractions that can lead you astray and waste the night away.
Night Time Traps
1. Keep the Television Off – I said it above and I’ll say it again. Beware the TV! Think you’ll only watch one episode and then go to bed? Think again.
2. Beware the Internet – Ok, I really hope you aren’t reading this at night. It is so easy to get caught in the loop of Youtube videos or mindless internet surfing and then you look at the clock. Hours have gone by and really nothing has been accomplished.
3. Learn to Say No – Every time you say yes to one thing, you are saying no to something else. During the week, social invitations come up. I often have to force myself to say no. Yes, they could be fun, but what are your goals? This point can go beyond social situations and even include work. I was moonlighting in another job for a little extra cash. The problem was that I was so tired the next day, it put me behind in my priority work.
Tips for a Productive Night Routine
You will notice the tips that follow for a great Night Routine complement your morning routine because these two routines work together. So, with mental energy in mind, let’s look at what can be done. The end goal is calming yourself for sleep and preparing for the next day.
Unplug an hour before bed – stop looking at screens of any kind. This includes computers, televisions, phones, etc. If you use your smartphone as your alarm clock turn it on Airplane Mode – Signals can affect sleep, but even on silent the screen lighting up every time you get an email or text can affect your sleep.
Plan for Tomorrow – Go over what you accomplished today and make a short list of what you want to do tomorrow. This will allow you to wake up and know exactly what to do. Waking up with purpose will help you get out of bed. This also helps keep your mind obsessing all night over what needs to be done. Write it and forget it. Limit yourself to writing down only the priorities.
Journal – I found the best journal was a gratitude journal. The other option is to write what you accomplished, which could complement your morning entry of “What I hope to accomplish today” or be like Ben Franklin and ask, “What good did I do today?”. Presently I’ve been using the Five Minute Journal, which is a journal with a number of prompts to keep you focused.
Clean your Desk – Once you’ve completed the points above it is time to clean house. This will allow you to start fresh the next morning clear of distraction.
Give your future self a head start – This is the time to use up any remaining mental energy you have left.
a. Prepare the Coffee machine.
b. Layout your clothes for tomorrow – This can include your workout clothes or running gear.
c. Make lunches and even think about dinner the next night.
d. Pack up your briefcase / backpack, or whatever else you need.
Drink a little water – You can get dehydrated during the night, so drink a little water and have a cup by your bed to throw back when you get up.
Hygiene Needs – This is the normal stuff washing your face, brushing your teeth, and flossing. If you’re a man – shaving at night will save you some time in the morning.
***Important Note – all the above should be done outside of your bed. Your bed is for two things, sleeping and sex (yes I said it). Reading in bed is fine, but do the other activities (making lists and journal writing) somewhere else. Our minds connect activity with locations – if you write in bed your mind will associate bed with writing. Bed is not for writing – bed is for sleep!
Calm your mind – this can take the form of meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, or simple stretching. You are preparing your body for rest and quieting your mind.
Enjoy a quiet activity – This can take the form of reading (remember no television), listening to music (keep it mellow), or something else that relaxes you. The goal here is not to entertain you, but to relax you a little further, until you’re tired.
Turn out the Light – It needs to be said. If you follow all the tips, but stay up all night reading, you won’t get the results you’re looking for. Have a designated time to turn off the light.
Don’t Forget to Set Your Alarm – Because after a deep sleep you’ll be waking up early to conquer the day!