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The best evening routines for a more productive day AND a great night’s sleep!
That’s too long of a title but you don’t want to just be organized, you want to sleep like a baby and wake up refreshed in the morning, right?
Your nighttime routines are even more important than your morning routines.
By creating evening routines, you don’t have nearly as much to do in the morning to get ready for work. The evening is when you want to take care of all the details that will make your morning flow without much thought. It’s the time when problems can be addressed and corrected so that you can go to bed without stressing over something you might forget in the morning.
When people think of bedtime routines they usually think about their bedtime ritual of brushing teeth, makeup removal and shower. Evening routines are far more than that.
The best evening routines cover three areas:
- First, avoiding the things that can cause a poor night’s sleep
- Second, getting everything – home and work – prepped for a smooth morning
- Third, self-care
When you do all three, you’ll sleep like a baby and can pretty much be on autopilot in the morning because everything will be ready for your day.
Preparing early for the good night’s sleep you want.
1. Avoid caffeine after 4 pm.
For some people, it might even be earlier but do avoid caffeine a few hours before you plan to go to bed. And in the same vein …
2. Avoid too much alcohol
2 hours before bed is recommended but you know your system better than anyone. I’m a lightweight and I find my sleep affected by more than one drink and less than 4 hours before bed.
3. Have a healthy dinner (and clean up)
Try to eat dinner a few hours before you go to bed. Overeating or having heavy or rich meals close to bedtime can give you indigestion and make it hard to sleep. When you need a snack closer to bedtime, have something light and easy to digest.
4. Try to stick to a regular bedtime
It’s not so much going to bed early versus late. It’s having consistency and working with your cycle. My husband goes to bed at 9:30 most evenings and gets up at 5:45 for an hour drive to work. I … can’t. I usually either write or read till 11:30, wake up at 6 and I’m up and starting my morning routine by 6:30. Trying to go to bed when he does leaves me tossing and turning and feeling more tired in the morning. Instead, I do my evening routine early and then wind down in a way that works for me.
5. Keep your bedroom as neat, quiet and dark as possible.
Put your electronic devices in another room and pull the shades to make your room as quiet and conducive to sleep as possible. Straighten up your bedroom before bed, putting clothes and shoes away and just generally making your room feel peaceful.
Preparing the TO-Dos of your morning
6. Prep your food
Right after dinner is the perfect time to pack lunch for the next day. Pack up dinner leftovers into individual containers, This will not only save you money but time too as you won’t have to go out to eat and can use your lunch hour for other things.
Prep your dinner ingredients after dinner too. Pull meat from the freezer, get the crockpot out if you’re using that in the morning, and lay out spices you’ll need. If you do some prep work when you get your groceries, you’ll already have packages of chopped veggies and other ingredients ready in the fridge.
7. Close the kitchen
Once everything is put away, get the dishes done and wipe down your counter.
Getting this done before you even leave the kitchen means your mind won’t be trying to tell you that you need to go back and clean something up. When mama’s done in the kitchen, the kitchen is closed!
Remember that doing things as you go is always faster than leaving them to a cleaning time or day.
8. Tidy your purse and get it ready for the morning
Pull out any receipts, business cards or other loose papers that might have been dropped in there and file them (cards in your business card holder, receipts in an envelope, and unimportant junk into the circular file. See if there is anything you need to add to your cosmetic bag or cash to put away. If you’re switching purses for the next day, transfer everything over, put away today’s purse, and put your purse near the door with your car keys.
9. Set up tomorrow’s schedule
Write your priorities for the next day into your planner. If you’ll need to call or email people, put those items into your schedule too. Then close your planner for the day and ignore work from this point on.
10. Put your work away
If you brought home files to go over in the evening, put them back into your briefcase before going to bed and put the briefcase by your purse and keys so nothing can be forgotten.
11. Choose your clothes for the next day
Get out tomorrow’s outfit as you’re tidying up your bedroom. Check everything to make sure you won’t find a ripped seam or loose button when you’re getting dressed in the morning. Quick repairs now are a lot less stressful than when you’re trying to get out the door in the morning. If you find an unexpected spot or mess, you can easily take out something else and put the dirty outfit in the laundry. Don’t forget to check shoes and jewelry too.
12. Sit down quietly and make a list of all the thoughts that are preying on your mind.
Grab a notepad and do a quick evening “brain dump” will let you get all the stress and worry out of your mind. Once on paper, you can deal with it later. Keep the pad and pen by your bed. If you find that an idea is keeping you from falling asleep, write it down quickly and promise yourself you’ll think about it in the morning. Check out my Brain Dump Journal and make it a habit to do this every week at least.
Preparing YOURSELF for the morning with a bedtime routine
One hour before bed… (when your bedtime routine starts)
13. Put away all your electronics
14. Read a book
Reading will relax you and entertain you without the effects of electronic devices. The exception might be an audiobook if you find that reading a paper book is not relaxing for you. This is the time for your guilty pleasure. Read a chapter every night from the latest blockbuster novel, or interesting biography.
15. Reflect on your day
You don’t have to keep a journal if you don’t want to, but note in your planner what went well for you today. Note what you’re grateful for. This will help you focus on the positive and end your day on a good note.
16. Take care of your personal grooming rituals
Even if you’re very tired, some self-care before bed is important.
If you don’t remove your makeup and take care of your skin, you’ll add one more thing to your morning that may be the tipping point to not being ready on time. And all the steps of your self-care are a mechanism to put you into a mental and physical state to get the best night’s sleep possible. So don’t neglect yourself after taking care of home and work priorities!
A warm bath or shower before bed is soothing and will help you to sleep faster, even if you normally shower in the morning.
How to make your evening routines a permanent habit.
Like any habit, creating evening routines will take time.
For a while, it might be a good idea to write down the various things that make up your evening routine. Put them on index cards and place them where you’ll see them. Eventually, they’ll become habits through repetition.
Sticking to a new routine is a matter of tricking your mind into doing the same repetitive behaviors. Just because you know they’re good for you and for your productivity, doesn’t matter to your poor old tired mind who’d rather just plop on the couch and fall asleep watching your favorite series.
Start with a few things at first, the things that will have the most impact.
It will only take you a few minutes to write up your next day’s schedule, gather all your files, put them in our briefcase and put everything you need for work by the front door. In the morning, you’ll feel the change when you see your briefcase and know that you don’t have to worry and look around to see if you forgot anything.
Then add the evening food prep and kitchen cleanup. When you get up in the morning and only have to empty prepared ingredients and seasonings into the crockpot and set it, all before your morning cup of coffee is brewed, you’ll be a convert. Especially as you sip your coffee and look around at your tidy kitchen.
Add one step of your new evening routines every day and always concentrate on the ones that will have the most impact on your morning.
Once your evening routines are in place, you can say goodbye to morning chaos and go blissfully to sleep at night, knowing that you’ll wake up rested and ready to take on the world!
Ready to change your mindset about how you approach your routines and all other aspects of your life? Join the Plotting A New Course community and I’ll send you my 31-Day Intentional Mindset Workbook. It’s a great beginning to making changes in the way you start and end your day.