Evening is the time when we get to unwind and relax—when we can decompress and let all of those troubles and stresses melt away. But do most of us actually use our evenings to do that?
Probably not. Instead, you check your emails. You scroll through Facebook. You run errands. You take care of the kids. Then, you get up the next morning for your workday and do the whole thing all over again.
I get it—there’s a lot to get done on any given day, and you want to be as productive as possible. But if you keep that schedule for too long, you’ll be dealing with the scary, one-eyed burnout monster in no time. No matter how packed your calendar or overflowing your to-do list is, it’s imperative that you take a little bit of time to relax after a long day and recharge your batteries for the next one.
Your evenings can have a big impact on how you feel the following morning.
Don’t worry, this doesn’t need to be anything complex or time consuming. It just involves incorporating a few simple key activities into your evening routine—whether it’s for an hour or just five minutes. Here are three things you can make a part of your nightly schedule that will help you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world.
But first, why do I need a routine?
You hear a lot about routines when it comes to productivity and time management. Morning and evening routines. Fitness routines. A cleaning routine. I know, just keeping track all of these sounds like a full-time job itself.
But, establishing routines for different aspects of your life is important for a few reasons:
- They set a certain structure and predictability, making your daily life easier to manage.
- They increase your efficiency.
- They help to reinforce good habits.
- They increase your motivation—if it’s a normal part of your schedule, you’re more likely to actually do it.
So, don’t look at establishing a routine as simply another thing you have to do. Instead, view it as a positive change that will help you make even more out of each day you’re given—and also help bring some stability to that crazy daily schedule of yours!
Incorporate These Activities
That all sounds great, doesn’t it? But now you’re probably left wondering what on earth you’re supposed to do every night—besides empty the dishwasher, fold laundry, feed your kids, and work your way through your Netflix queue. Well, here are three of my favorite activities to do on a nightly basis:
I’ll admit that this one can be challenging for me at times. But, I think it’s a crucial piece of the puzzle when it comes to feeling a little less blurry-eyed and exhausted the next morning.
That’s right—you need to step away from the screens. You likely already just spent eight hours staring at a computer, so why do you want to spend the rest of your evening glued to your phone screen?
Set a specific time when you officially need to be done with email, social media, and text messages and then power down or put away all of those pesky devices. Unless there’s something so urgent and pressing that it requires you to have your phone in hand at all hours, it’s time that you give your eyes (and your brain!) a much needed break from that constant screen glow. Plus, I think you’ll be surprised at how much more relaxed and in the moment you feel without that ceaseless distraction right in front of your face.
2. Prepare for Tomorrow
I’m a big believer in using your evenings to relax. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to do anything to feel prepared to tackle the following day. So, I usually dedicate about ten to fifteen minutes each evening to figure out what should be at the very top of my list tomorrow.
After dinner, take a seat (grab a mug of tea or a glass of wine!) and whip out your planner. First, take a look and see what meetings, appointments, and other commitments you have coming up the following day. This gives you a sense of how many solid blocks of time you can dedicate to your other work.
Then, get out your notepad and favorite pen and start jotting down your to-do list—putting the highest priority items at the top and the lower priority ones toward the bottom. Structuring my to-do list this way is a simple mind trick to inspire me to start with my most important projects first—especially those ones I’ve been pushing off for a while.
Doing this ahead of time means I can jump right in the following morning without having to filter through my calendar and notes to determine where I should get started.
I also like to take a few minutes during this period of time to reflect on my day, including any big accomplishments or things I can do better tomorrow. It’s a nice way to get some closure on that day’s work, and switch my brain from “work mode” to “play mode”.
3. Do Something You Enjoy
This is a big one that I think most of us have the unfortunate tendency to forget about—after all, life is supposed to be fun. You’re supposed to enjoy it. But when you fill up your schedule with all of those things you have to do, there’s no time to do the things you want to do.
Make it a point to do something you enjoy every night, even if it’s only for ten short minutes. Read a few pages of that book you’re working your way through. Work on that craft project you’re excited to finish. Take your dog for a walk. It sounds like such a small and simple addition to your evening routine. But, I promise, taking that little bit of time for yourself can make a big difference.
Believe it or not, how you spend your evenings can have a serious impact on how you feel the following morning—and even the entire next day. You want to make sure you’re using your nightly downtime on the right things. Work these three quick things into your evening routine, and you’re sure to feel refreshed and ready to tackle your day tomorrow!
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Reflection is an important part of your nightly routine.
Use this free worksheet of prompts and questions to guide you!