Since 2014, more people have been interested in the morning routines of successful people, while evening routines haven’t garnered as much attention. As someone who thrives on structure, organization and planning, I believe following a morning routine is fundamental for having a productive day. However, the key to productivity starts the night before because you need to wake up with intention in the morning so it can expand and define the rest of your day. This intention is cultivated through a healthy, restful evening routine.
Here I’ve listed seven tips that you can implement in your evening routine for more productivity, intention and meaning the following day.
1. Set your bed and wake up times.
Every Sunday evening, I plan my upcoming week. I schedule my sleep in the same manner that I schedule all of my other activities because it is a priority. When I schedule it, it ensures – more often than not, as it’s not always feasible because… life – that I get seven hours of sleep.
Getting seven hours of sleep is a priority for me because I:
- Function more energetically, optimally and positively
- Have more patience and empathy for others
- Make better and wiser decisions
On the contrary, when I lack sleep, I:
- Have lower energy levels
- Have a much more reactive and victimizing mentality
- Lack patience and tolerance for others
- Am prone to making reckless and impulsive decisions
Lately, my bed and wake-up times have been 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. It’s important to note that I am not saying that you need to follow my sleep schedule nor that it is essential for you to wake up early.
Your sleep schedule should be entirely dependent on your priorities, commitments, and obligations. What I am saying is that it’s important to prioritize sleep to function optimally.
2. Wind down 1-2 hours before bed.
Giving yourself time before bed to unwind and relax will help you sleep better. This is because there is a positive correlation between reducing physical and mental stimulation before bed and getting better sleep.
Unfortunately, we tend to stay energized and alert until we collapse into bed by engaging in watching TV, checking emails or social media, and completing side projects/work. All of these activities impact the quality of your sleep. However, it’s essential to wind down 1-2 hours before bed to prepare your body and brain for sleep.
Generally, I begin winding down when I get home from the gym, about two hours before bedtime. When I get home, I turn on my ‘ bedtime playlist’, which consists of uplifting and relaxing music from various genres such as contemporary worship, c-pop, country, and R&B. Playing this type of music signals to my brain and body that I am preparing to unwind.
It sets the tone for a healthy, restful evening.
3. Surround yourself with relaxing smells.
Diffusing essential oils at night is a simple, all-natural way to improve the quality of your sleep. I love lavender and chamomile for their calming effects that help to relieve insomnia, anxiety, and depression. But, if you don’t have an essential oil diffuser, scented candles or pillow sprays work just as well.
When I lived in Canada and Hungary, I exercised in the morning. I showered after my workouts, which helped me start my days off feeling fresh and energized, as it is well known that morning showers are beneficial for promoting alertness, stimulating your immune system, and accelerating metabolism.
However, since moving to Taiwan, I began to shower every day at night due to the hot and humid climate. This led to my discovery of the benefits of evening showers and their impact on sleep quality.
Firstly, taking a hot shower 1-2 hours before bedtime helps you sleep faster and more easily at night due to its effect on your circadian rhythm. During the daytime, your body temperature is at its highest. As the nighttime approaches, your body temperature drops. It is the lowest during sleep. As your body temperature lowers, it activates your sleep cycle.
So, when you take a hot shower at night, your body temperature will rise briefly during the shower and then quickly decline after. This effect helps you sleep faster and better at night.
There are many more benefits to showering at night, such as:
- Relaxing your muscles
- Lowering your body tension
- Alleviating your migraines
- Reducing your anxiety
- Removing your skin’s toxins
- Opening and cleaning your pores
I also love feeling clean and refreshed after my shower. It ensures that I am much more comfortable when I hop into bed.
5. Set a time limit for you to “plug in” so that you can completely unplug afterwards.
Have you ever planned to go to bed at a particular time, but then you ended up reaching for your phone to check your Instagram feed? Eventually, you spiralled and stayed up one hour past your bedtime watching YouTube videos on cute corgis and hedgehogs.
You’re not alone, as this has happened more times than I’d like to admit.
This is why I started scheduling some time for me to “plug in” at the end of my day. During this time, I respond to emails and messages, scroll through Instagram, and watch YouTube videos guilt-free. When I reach my time limit, I completely unplug, meaning I turn off my notifications and put my phone in airplane mode. I noticed that when I completely disconnected from my phone, I fell asleep more quickly at night and enjoyed a better night of sleep. This is because I wasn’t distracted for hours by social media or YouTube, nor was I woken up by phone notifications throughout the night.
The end result? I woke up feeling more alert, energized, and refreshed.
Turning off your notifications and putting your phone in airplane mode also ensures that when your phone alarm (for those who have yet to invest in an actual alarm clock such as myself) goes off in the morning, you aren’t bombarded with notifications. I find that when I wake up to news, alerts, and messages, I am much more reactive and anxious throughout the day. This is why more often than not, I only turn on my notifications and take my phone off airplane mode after I have given myself time to journal, read, and complete the most important tasks of my day.
6. Plan for the following day.
After I shower, I prepare for the following day.
This is when I:
- Clean and declutter my apartment
- Prepare my breakfast
- Layout my work and gym clothes
- Figure out my most important tasks
- Review my weekly planner
Accomplishing these tasks the night before simplifies my morning and gives me a head start on my day. The thing is, your brain only has a finite source of energy and attention. If you spend too much time pondering meaningless questions and choices, you’re squandering your brainpower and energy for more important tasks.
I cannot emphasize the importance of journaling enough.
Journaling before bed allows you to:
- Reflect on your day, which inspires more self-awareness
- End your day on a positive note when you write down the things you’re grateful for
- Empty your racing and anxious thoughts
- Performing this “brain dump” puts you in a better mood by reducing your intrusive thoughts.
This is important because, as Jay Shetty says, “The emotion that you sleep with is most likely the emotion that you’ll wake up within the morning.” So, if you go to bed feeling anxious and depressed, you’ll most likely wake up feeling anxious and depressed.
Over the past year, journaling has made a tremendous difference in my life.
I hope you can implement one of these tips in your evening routine for a more productive day!