The end of today tees up the beginning of tomorrow. The things that you do in the evening can have a direct effect on how well tomorrow goes. The key to this whole system is a solid evening routine.
I’m a very process-driven person. I keep a running to do list, I keep my eye on the big picture, and I love to automate systems. if there is a way I can turn a project into a system, I’ll do it. One of the things that I’ve found is that if I establish a routine, I can guarantee a high success rate on my daily task list. It’s because I take the time to budget my time that I keep myself from wasting too much of it.
I’ve found a solid evening routine to be my best weapon in starting tomorrow off on the right foot.
Evening routines (or rituals) can be very helpful, not just on a practical level.
- It can give you a more natural, restful, and refreshing sleep. Your brain is one smart computer. It notices trends and tries to adapt to better meet your needs. If you do the same series of events each evening, your brain will learn that those tasks are sleep cues and will eventually start to put itself to sleep.
- It sets up tomorrow for a great start. You can plan things into your evening routine that will help your lazy morning self. If you wake up early to exercise, by laying out your exercise clothes, you can rob sleepy you of an excuse. You could also get the coffee ready or lay out your suit. The fewer decisions you have to make in the morning, the more productive your day will be.
- It closes out today with finality. Today is over at midnight. An evening routine can help you do the things you need to close out the day with. It could be cleaning the kitchen, refilling your water pitcher, or shutting down your computer.
My routine changes about once a season. It’s not usually a major change, just enough to meet the activities of the season. Yours will be different, but this might be a nice primer.
I start at 9:00pm. I want to be in bed by 10:10pm so I can wake up at 4:50am for my daily exercise. So, when the clock strikes 9, I do these things:
- Oral hygiene. I brush and floss my teeth. Simple.
- Prayer time. I made it a goal in 2014 to be more structured in my prayer. Each Quarter, I change the prayer activity in this time slot. Right now I’m reading a chapter in the Bible. I started with Sirach.
- Turn down bed. It’s very refreshing in hotel’s when you come in late and the bed is ready for you. I clear the top of the bed and turn down the comforter.
- Choose outfits for tomorrow. I have roughly four outfits I wear in a given day. My pajamas, my workout clothes, clothes that I wear during the day around the house, and work clothes. I lay them out in strategic places so they are where they need to be when I need them.
- Buffer time. At this point, It’s usually about 9:30pm. I spend the last half hour on whatever Alison needs. It may be hanging out, reading, holding/feeding Benedict, or just chatting. This is margin time for her.
At 10:00pm, we’re giving Benedict his evening snack and then it’s off to bed.
Your evening routine may be completely different. No matter what activities you do, you should ask yourself this simple question: what things do I need to do tonight that will set me up for success tomorrow?