As we approach the end of the day, we get tired. It takes just a bit longer and a bit more effort to make a decision. This often leads to decisions that we’re not that happy with in hindsight. The reason for this is that our decision-making power is limited – and at the end of each day, our battery is running pretty low.
The best way to avoid bad decisions at night is to take decision-making out of the equation, by creating an evening routine. Not only will your evenings become more meaningful, but you’ll also find it easier to disconnect and improve sleep quality.
Use these 3 evening routine ideas to get started:
Habit 1: Unwind to move back to the present
After a long and hard day, you deserve some mental respite.
While gaming or social media might help you to disconnect from work, they won’t give your brain the rest it deserves. Let’s have a closer look at some healthier alternatives instead.
Meditation, yoga and breathing exercises are all excellent ways to help you unwind. These mindful activities will allow you to focus on the present.
If your first reaction is “boring”, I don’t blame you. It often is at first. But so are many other daily habits like brushing your teeth. We all know it’s important to take care of our body but we often neglect the mind. Therefore, I recommend you give at least one of these activities a try for a few days. Start small to ease yourself in. One minute is enough.
After a few days, you might start to enjoy the activity of your choice. However, some people don’t. But not all hope is lost. You don’t always have to go out of your way to practise mindfulness.
A few evening routine ideas to unwind
1) Eat slower and without distractions. No TV. No phone. Focus on the food. Pick something appetising, not Brussel Sprouts.
2) Sit and listen to your favourite music. Close your eyes. Focus on the rhythm. Let it take you on a journey but don’t fall asleep.
3) Go for a short walk without your phone. Focus on your senses. What do you see in nature? How does the wind or rain feel against your skin? Do you smell any exquisite foods from nearby restaurants? Any chirping birds or is the evening silent?
If you turn mindfulness into a habit, you’ll feel less stressed. And gradually, you’ll begin to appreciate the small pleasures of in life. Furthermore, after sustained practice, it will lead to better performances and higher productivity. Mindfulness teaches you to value every moment, meaning you’ll become better at focusing on whatever you’re doing. This doesn’t mean that you need to practise this the entire day. A few minutes per day is often enough to give you a 24-hour boost.
In my case, meditation reconnects me with the present moment. When feeling low, I’ve found it to be the best activity to lift my spirits. However, like all positive habits, it’s not very helpful if I don’t practise it consistently. It’s not a go-to solution for when things go South. Like a relationship, you’ve got to stay connected in the good and the bad days.
Learn to focus on the present and give your brain some rest.
Habit 2: Reflect on your day and goals
Daily reflection is key to becoming a top performer. You could just sit down and reflect but that’s not always as effective. I recommend to keep a reflection journal and write about your thoughts, goals and even feelings. Because yes, men also have feelings, and it’s completely fine to express them.
Writing has many benefits. For starters, it helps process emotions and reduces stress. Writing down your goals also augments your accountability. If you remind yourself of your goals often, you’re more likely to achieve them. You’ll have a clearer picture fo them and they’ll be more present in your mind. Visualising your goals and progress will be easier because of this. And seeing the mental picture of a more successful you is often the only motivation you need.
So far, we’ve seen that reflective writing reduces stress and helps you reach your goals. That’s not all, though. Reflection is also a brilliant way to practise gratitude and have more productive and meaningful days.
Don’t know how to start?
Have a go at one or more of these questions tonight. Write them down. This might be the first page in your reflection journal.
- What didn’t go very well today?
- So, what can I do better tomorrow?
- What went well Today?
- So, what should I repeat tomorrow?
- What simple pleasure did I enjoy today?
- What made me [insert feeling] today?
Feel free to replace tomorrow with next week or any period of your choice.
Daily reflection reduces stress and anxiety, increases focus on goals and makes you feel happier.
Habit 3: Plan the next day
After a long day, taking your phone and scrolling through your socials seems inevitable, right? It isn’t. Once you start journaling and practising mindfulness, these distractions won’t seem as interesting anymore. So, before you go to bed, put your phone away and grab a piece of paper. Start planning the next day. By doing this in the evening, you’re saving yourself some precious time the next morning. You’ll be able to sleep a bit longer or spend your time on an empowering habit, such as learning a new language.
The most important part is to create tomorrow’s to-do list. (Try one of these free to-do list apps.)
Plan which activities you will deal with first. Prioritise to save decision-making power for more important moments. Start with the one thing you need to get done that day. That’s how you will start to become productive every single day.
Additionally, try to reduce decisions for the next day even more. You’ve probably heard stories of successful people like Steve Jobs and Barack Obama who seem to wear the same thing every day. By avoiding these trivial decisions, they can focus on what really matters.
I won’t suggest that you buy a whole new set of identical clothes, but you can make some improvements. Choose your outfit for the next day, prep breakfast and plan your next dinner. And remember, if you do want to reduce your wardrobe, you wear only 20% of your clothes 80% of the time.
Plan and prep your next day in the evening to reduce decision-making fatigue and have more productive mornings.
Remember this to create your evening routine
By implementing one or more of these evening routine ideas, you’ll experience several benefits.
- You’ll be more focused on the present which will make you happier, and nicer to be around.
- You’ll have a clearer view of your goals and your progress.
- You’ll keep making good decisions throughout the day thanks to reduced decision-making fatigue.
Remember that your phone isn’t a good partner for nighttime habits. Put it in flight mode or leave it outside your room before bedtime to get the best results.
Did you find these evening habits inspiring? Have a look at our other habit ideas:
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Sources and further reading about evening routine ideas and related topics
- Gillis, Austin. Early To Rise — https://www.earlytorise.com/evening-routine-guide/
- Mehmedova, Filiz. Lifehack — https://www.lifehack.org/411344/10-evening-habits-of-highly-successful-people
- Mind — https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/drugs-and-treatments/mindfulness/mindfulness-exercises-tips/
- Mindful — https://www.mindful.org/what-is-mindfulness/
- Tet. Productive and Free — https://www.productiveandfree.com/blog/evening-habits-ritual-routine