An Evening Routine – Your Ticket to Greater Productivity
If you don’t have an evening routine, you are missing out! OK, it’s true, I’m a big fan of routines in general! Routines are a sequence of actions regularly followed. When followed, they assist you in regularly participating in necessary and desired actions.
Routines are how I roll. Maybe the concept of routines doesn’t excite you like it does me, but not having an evening routine is like depriving yourself of the opportunity to perform at your best. There are some other pretty sweet perks to an evening or night time routine! A night routine…
- Enables you to engage in beneficial activities – activities that set you up for success
- Consumes less brain power so your mind is free to focus on more important matters
- Fills you up and energizes you naturally
- Prepares you for the next day
- Improves the quality of your sleep
- Boosts creativity
- Lowers stress
- Keeps you from wasting your valuable time
An evening routine won’t take the place of your morning routine, but it does compliment it nicely.
I like to think about my evening routine consisting of these three steps:
Let’s explore these three aspects of your evening routine in more detail.
1. Switch Gears
Settle on a serious cut off time to stop working and start your evening. Will you leave the office at 5:30, 6, or 6:30pm? Commit to that hard stop! If you work from home like I do, you must be very disciplined about ending your day of work and switching gears.
It’s tough, but sticking to your end time forces you to be more focused during the day and requires that you to trust God to help you get it all done.
Plan ahead! How will you handle the dinner hour? What can you do ahead to make meal time smooth? If you have a family, how can they pitch in and help with food prep, table setting, and clean up? I know it’s old fashioned, but meal time is an amazing opportunity to relax with the ones you love and catch up. However, when meal time is laced with stress, it’s anything but relaxing!
Single? Make it a point to share a meal with others a couple of times a week.
Connecting is energizing – it’s what we were made for and dinner time is the ideal time to do that.
Flying by the seat of your pants and hoping it all pans out for dinner is a sure way to kick off your evening on a frazzled note. You don’t want that!
One last thing that fits into Switch Gears bucket: tidy up – take a 10-20 minutes to straighten up. This is not a deep clean – just a simple put stuff where it belongs so that you can start the next day with a clean slate.
How will you switch gears and transition into your evening in a positive way?
2. Wind Down
After a working hard all day, the evening is the perfect time to practice self-care. Your evening routine serves you best when it includes activities you love doing or that is relaxing to you. It doesn’t have to be the same activity every night, but a meaningful way for you to decompress and let the cares of the day fade away. You might consider relaxing activities like…
- Reading a book
- Taking a bath
- Watching a movie
- Working a puzzle
- Sipping a decaffeinated tea
- Listening to music
- Coloring, drawing, knitting, or sewing – something creative
- Do a crossword puzzle or word search
- Playing a game
- Giving yourself a facial
- Writing a letter – yes, with pen and paper!
The point of this portion of your evening routine is to fill you up. Give yourself permission to relax. Mix it up! It doesn’t have to be the same activity every night! Just know that when you repeatedly skip this portion of your evening, resentment has a tendency to kick in.
It’s important to have a hard stop to the winding down portion of your evening so that you can transition into preparing to sleep and the next day. For me that’s 9:30pm. That doesn’t mean I don’t ever make exceptions. Occasionally I will do something special like go to a concert, play, or some other special event that isn’t over until after 9:30pm, but late evenings are definitely not the norm.
What are your favorite ways to wind down?
3. Sleep Prep
What fits into this part of your evening routine will be different for everybody, but will include prep for the next day, hygiene, and whatever promotes sleep for you. Let’s explore each of these further.
Preparing for the next day includes tasks like…
- Setting out your workout clothes
- Picking out your outfit for the next day
- Gathering items needed for work or running errands
- Prepping for breakfast including supplements
- Making your lunch if you pack a lunch
- Planning your day (I prefer to do this in the morning, but some sleep better if they do it the night before)
- Shutting down all electronics
- Anything that will make your morning easy!
Hygiene consists tasks like…
- Removing contacts
- Brushing teeth
- Skin care – washing face, etc.
Promoting Sleep might include…
- Meditation (Check out the Abide App for night time meditations or background music for sleeping)
- A dark, cool room free of screens
- Identifying the highlight of your day or the five things you are grateful for
A few things to avoid before bedtime…
- Caffeine after 2pm including chocolate if you are sensitive to it
- Alcohol – it makes you sleepy, but you won’t sleep well
- A cluttered bedroom
If the concept of an evening routine is new to you, it may seem like a lot to take on. I encourage you start small – work on how you switch gears or your sleep prep. Gradually stack one habit on top of another until you have a good rhythm going. Then work on another aspect of your evening routine. It’s a process, and processes take time! If necessary, set reminders or alarms to help you. Don’t get discouraged!
Remember the goal is to free up your brain for more important matters and to practice the habits you need to function at your best!
Maybe you already have an evening routine, but you’d like to make a couple tweaks to what you’ve been doing up to this point. Remember you are unique – your evening routine doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. You want your evening routine to serve you well!
Your evening routine will continue to evolve over time as life changes. Adding and subtracting to something that’s already in place is much easier than starting from scratch!
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to give an evening routine a try! See what it does for you!
What’s your evening routine and how has it helped you?
© Can Stock Photo / yupiramos