I wish I could say I lay out my clothes every night, but I rarely have the energy to tackle such important decisions before bed. Instead, I prefer to leave this for the morning when I’m thinking about a thousand other things and also trying to get two small people dressed.
I make my to-do list. I have a physical to-do book that goes with me everywhere. Each day has a list of things to be done, the most pressing at the top. What doesn’t get done on one day gets moved to the next. It’s very satisfying to cross things off my list!
In the evening, though ideally not immediately before bed so I don’t stress myself out, I like to look ahead at the next day. How many meetings do I have and when do they start? How extensive is my to-do list? What are the critical fires I will need to tend?
Doing a quick look ahead the night before prevents the frantic “OMG I FORGET I HAD [INSERT URGENT THING] ON THE CALENDAR” reaction in the morning and helps prime me for particularly busy days. It also helps me plan what kind of self-care I will engage in the next morning.
I love practicing Abhyanga (self-oil massage), another Ayurvedic practice. It drains the lymphatic system, stimulating cleansing of your cells. It’s also super relaxing.
As I am a health-food blogger and nutritionist, I love making delicious sugar-free, vegan, plant-based desserts like avocado chocolate pudding or coconut peanut-butter pie as a nightly treat. Life is too short to live without dessert - just make it healthy!
I put everything I need for my morning workout in place so I’m ready to get up and go. Clothes, gear, nutrition - all are in place or bundled up and ready to use.
I have an extremely active brain and have always had trouble getting to sleep. I avoid Ambien and drugs like that, as they have left me with apathetic side effects that counteract the point of trying to get a full night’s sleep. Truthfully, indica marijuana, melatonin, and ZzzQuil do the trick when necessary.
Amazingly, I recently flew from New York to Italy for a business trip and then from Italy to Hawaii. I didn’t use any of the aforementioned sleep aids while traveling to extremely different time zones. Ultimately, they help my brain wind down a bit after busy and active workdays in NYC. I feel zero side effects from any of the sleep aids I’ve mentioned and feel great, refreshed, and ready to go the next day.
On a day where I have to leave the house (going to my daughter’s Chinese lessons, the grocery store, or a playdate), I’ll lay out my clothes the night before. And I always try to remember to move the bacon to the fridge to thaw, but I inevitably forget ;)
If I’m trying to get out the door fast, I will pack for the next day the night before - workout gear and clothes to change into, plus toiletries and makeup for going straight from a class.
My productivity and motivation to work decline throughout the day, and in the evenings I generally allow myself to wind down.
I do most of my work in the morning hours, including whatever preparations I need for whatever I decide to do that day. I’m an improviser by nature and often will prepare for talks, classes, etc., in the hours (sometimes minutes) before delivering them.
I try to maximize my sleep as much as possible. Blackout curtains, 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20°C), and now a Sleep Number bed that is adjustable in hardness. Sometimes I take 5-HTP to help my body relax.
Typically, I wake up after eight hours on the nose if I haven’t drunk alcohol. If I’m really exhausted from an accumulated lack of sleep, I’ll sleep longer.
I usually plan what I’ll be wearing the next day if I’m not working from home so that I don’t have to take care of that in the morning. I also check my calendar to see what my day will look like (work, school, appointments, etc.).
I put the clothes I’m going to wear out in the living room to let my fiancé sleep a little longer - the poor guy shouldn’t have to suffer because of my routine.
I often lay out my exercise clothes so I can put them on first thing in the morning. It’s much easier to exercise if you’re already dressed for the event anyway.
I love mornings, but I always make sure the house is clean and my electric tea kettle is filled before bed.
I believe half of a successful morning is the result of a well-intentioned night. Before I end the day, I quickly scan the following day’s appointments and to-do items to get a small jumpstart, confirm things, or remove things. This is super helpful because it allows me to start the day with a clear plan and not waste valuable mental energy trying to figure out what I should be doing or what I need to have in place in order to accomplish the day’s goals.
I also set aside clothes and any other specific items I’ll need. So if I know I have a 10:00am meeting, I’ll make sure my notebook, laptop, ink pen and whatever else I might need are packed and by the door. If I’m working out first thing, I’ll lay out my workout clothes, shoes, and socks so that all I have to do is get dressed and go.
I wear the exact same outfit every day; my closet has a few sets of identical clothes so that mornings are super quick. If I’m working out in the morning, I set out my clothes by my bed so I don’t have to think about that.
When I’m winding down in the evening I write the next day’s schedule in my notebook. I got the technique from Deep Work by Cal Newport, one of the best books I’ve read this year. I’ve always had a problem with focus, so I like to help myself out as much as possible. It’s empowering to wake up and not have to use my morning brain to think about the order in which I’m supposed to do things.
I check my calendar app before putting my phone away in the living room and moving into the bedroom. It’s nice to know what’s going to happen the next day.
If I have somewhere to go in the morning, I leave my clothes out the night before. This also usually means I nix my morning walk, but at least I can wake up, read, shower, change, and be ready to go. Otherwise, not really.
Every day I have a to-do list that has the top five things I need to do that day. At the end of the day I look at my list, and if I didn’t finish anything, I transfer those to-do items to my list for the next day. I don’t use an app for this, I just switch between paper and the Notes app on my iPhone.
I have to admit that I’m bad about staying off my computer at night. I know it’s not good for sleep. But I do have a program called f.lux, which automatically changes the color of your computer’s display based on the time of day. This lessens the strain on your eyes and reduces exposure to that “blue light” that’s bad for your sleep habits.
I wear an eye mask to bed religiously to block out all the light from my fan, air purifier, modem, and other electronics in my apartment.
My mother taught me to never go to bed with dirty dishes in the sink, and I uphold her wisdom. I straighten up before going to sleep because I like waking up to a clean apartment.
Before bed I identify the 2-3 projects that are most important for me to focus on the following day. Essentially, I write out my schedule for the next day. Scheduling keeps me on track and allows me to be conscious of how I spend my time rather than being reactive.
There are a lot of simple tools I’ve come across over the years that, when pulled together, can be incredibly helpful at managing your time in order to have more of it to do what you love. I highlight all of these tools in more detail in my Productivity Webinar.
I spend 10-15 minutes getting everything ready for the next day and decluttering the house. I believe this is very important to jumpstart the morning!
I occasionally take a short walk before going to bed, but I would like to do it more often. It helps clear out my brain before falling asleep.
Some mornings I feel ready for the world immediately; other mornings I need more time adjusting to the fact that other people outside of my family exist. I suspect that the outcome is connected to my evening activities, but I have yet to figure out how.
Thirty minutes before going to sleep, I practice some calisthenics. Then, once I’m in bed, I like to listen to an audiobook (on repeat, something I’ve heard before). But I’m bad at wanting to check email and other things right before going to sleep.
Before I end my workday, I put a sticky note on my computer that tells me exactly what I’m supposed to be writing the next morning so that when I wake up, I’m not as tempted to go right to my emails or waste time on the internet. This simple strategy really helps me focus early in the morning.
The more I wind-down the night before, the better my brain works in the morning. On a perfect night, I’ll have turned off screens or put on blue-blocker goggles by around 10:00pm. I also try not to read any social media or things that make me think about anyone other than close friends and family after this time. (The exception to this is long-form stuff, such as books.)
I may watch a show or some videos, but I try to spend time after 11:00pm doing only quieter activities, such as reading. I go to bed before I’m too exhausted, and I sit in bed with the light on and stare at the wall when I first get in. I allow myself to think about things that happened that day or what I’ll do tomorrow, and only when my eyelids start to get heavy do I put on my sleeping mask, insert my ear plugs, and turn out the light. I’ve found that if I try to close my eyes before my eyelids get heavy, I have a hard time sleeping.
The aforementioned airplane-mode trick. I also like to review my calendar for the coming day before I turn my phone off for the night, so I know which work task I’m tackling first in the morning.
I like to start the morning with a clean slate, ready to continue our mission at Mogul. To make that possible, I clear up as much of my inbox as possible the night before, answering every message as needed, thereby teeing up the next day for success and further streamlining my morning schedule.
I try to get off the screen 20-30 minutes before bed, but I’m not always successful with that. I make a master list of ideas, including follow-up questions for clients and ideas to share with my team, before turning in. It’s a big brain dump before sleeping.
Right before we go to sleep, my husband and I do the same tune-in ritual: We talk about our day, we let go of “good” or “bad” moments. The intimate connection we’ve created has been an important artery in our relationship; it helps us shut out the day, go to sleep happier, and rest better.
Yes, I treat my transition to sleep as a sacrosanct ritual.
First, I turn off all my electronic devices and gently escort them out of my bedroom. Then, I take a hot bath with epsom salts and a candle flickering nearby; a bath that I prolong if I’m feeling anxious or worried about something. I don’t sleep in my workout clothes as I used to (think of the mixed message that sends to our brains) but have pajamas, nightdresses, and even T-shirts dedicated to sleep. Sometimes I have a cup of chamomile or lavender tea if I want something warm and comforting before going to bed. I love reading real, physical books, especially poetry, novels, and books that have nothing to do with work.
Yes, I fill out my Productivity Planner the night before to streamline the next day. Typically this involves looking at my calendar and task list together. I also reflect on my day using my Five Minute Journal to get a sense of how the day went and what I would like to do differently in the future.
I like reading before bed and also spray magnesium (transdermal) on my body before going to bed to accelerate physical recovery. This article gives a good explanation of this.
I also keep my clothes close to the shower so I don’t have to decide what to wear in the morning.
The biggest impact on having a great morning is how well I sleep. As a result, I’m addicted to my white noise machine. I also have earplugs sitting by my bed in case it gets noisy outside our window, or in case my dog decides he wants to snore that night.
Yes, I always iron my clothes for work, and I actually sleep in my running clothes. Sometimes I prepare my lunch for the next day.
I typically pick out my work and exercise clothes, prepare overnight oats, and get the coffee maker ready so I can just press the start button in the morning. I also fill up a glass of water and put it on my bedside table.
Not really. I have a strict rule about not checking email after 6:00pm so I can clear my head of business before going to bed. I may keep working if I need to, but I make sure that outside demands/requests for my attention are shut down for the evening.
I do this both to minimize distractions and to guard against the possibility that something’s going to come in that will keep me up all night worrying. (This is a holdover, in part, from my corporate career, where this happened all the time! I implemented this rule after one too many nights of fretting about some late-breaking issue that couldn’t be solved until the next day anyway).
Even if I’m not going first thing, I always try to have my gym clothes and headphones in a very easy to access spot. I need as few barriers as possible, so that when I decide to go, I’m able to just go.
I usually relax, breathe deep, and do some stretching and mobility work. Trying to keep the lower back, hips, and ham strings loose is a never-ending cycle.
Yes, everything. I have a list of things to do before I go to bed, which basically eliminates any need for conscious thought before I get in my car to drive to the gym in the morning.
Here’s what’s on it (written out here, but normally it’s just shorthand):
- Clean my son’s bottles and prepare them for the next day.
- Put my laptop back in my work bag.
- Organize my gym bag (shampoo, conditioner, etc.), including laying out my gym clothes and charging my tablet.
- Pick out my clothes to wear at work the next day.
- Prepare my pumping supplies for the next morning.
- Put a cup by the sink so I can take my pills first thing in the morning.
I check my calendar to make sure that I don’t have anything the next day that I forgot about. I like to go to bed knowing what tasks I have for the next day.
I tend to have ideas or to-dos pop into my mind as I’m getting ready for bed, and I write them down instead of trying to remember them. I will often go to bed thinking about whatever big problem I’m working on solving at the moment. But to be honest, I have no problem falling asleep, and often go directly from working to sleeping.
I prepare a pot of really good coffee the night before and set it to brew just before I wake up.
My morning begins at 4:30pm the afternoon before. That is when I do a “brain dump,” writing down all of the work-related thoughts running through my head. This allows me to leave those thoughts behind and separates work time from personal/family time. I encourage everyone to use this exercise. It allows you to be present with your family while not worrying about something from work. It allows you to be the father who is focused on playing catch with his son, not the father looking at his phone while he throws the ball in the general direction of his child.
After the brain dump, I script my next workday, filling in blocks of time with important tasks to finish. Then I unplug, eat dinner, spend time with family and friends, and read a book or magazine before bed. Other things you can do to make your morning easier include preparing your lunch the night before, laying out your work clothes, packing your work bag, and even sleeping in your (clean!) exercise clothes if you want to do that in the morning.
In addition to the “Did today matter?” journaling prompt, I usually decide what I’m going to wear and pack my laptop bag for the next day. Making decisions about that stuff in the morning takes too much energy that should be reserved for creative work.
Oh, and I also try to identify one small thing that I’ll do when drinking the glasses of water and looking at the news early in the morning. It could be completing a batch of edits, finishing up a group of interview questions like these, or making the initial outline for a talk. I’ve learned that this little touch helps a lot on busy days—by the time I get to the office, I already have something off my plate.
I know from experience that looking at bright screens late at night makes it harder to fall asleep. I never lay in bed and look at my phone at night. If I’m wanting to read in bed I read a physical book.
I used to code or design to the wee hours of the morning wearing all-nighters as a badge of honor. Now I value getting a good sleep and waking up early. For me, working late into the night isn’t as efficient long-term as getting proper rest. I don’t like to feel yesterday’s late night work in the morning. I avoid work hangovers.
If I’m going to work out, I set out my clothes, headphones, and coffee money. I’m super distracted and forgetful in the morning so I also write myself notes like “Don’t forget to pack charger!” or “Healthy snacks!”
Oh absolutely, before turning in I’m usually scouring design, tech, or political blogs and saving them for the morning. I also rough out ideas for any projects on my plate coming up the next day or writing down specific project goals. I also have several sketch pads, notebooks, and a chalkboard wall in my house to frantically write down spur of the moment ideas.
I write my daily log at night, keeping track of everything I’ve done that day. It helps keep me present and aware of how I spend my time. Then I’ll set my alarm.
As often as possible I’ll set out my clothes and food for the next day. I mostly do this the night before so to be quieter around the house in the morning so I don’t wake Lauren. And sometimes I’ll read a chapter of whatever book I’m reading. I always have one audiobook going for my commute, and one real book going for night time. Last night I finished reading The Defining Decade by Meg Jay and will start The Courage to Create by Rollo May tonight.
I don’t have a TV in my bedroom, and I try to read for 15-20 minutes every night before bed. I make sure I’m reading fiction (usually fantasy), as I find if I read non-fiction it makes me come up with ideas and my brain won’t let me sleep.
I always prepare the fuel that I’ll need for during and after the next day’s practice. Lately I’ve been drinking Natural Amino by NutriForce Sports mixed with a tablespoon of maple syrup during practice, and Ultragen by First Endurance after practice. I also set out all my gear (uni, long sleeve, long tights, etc) so I’m not fishing around for clothes in the morning.
I don’t necessarily do these things right before bed. Just at some point during the afternoon or evening when I have extra time or need a break from work.
I spend a lot of time living out of a suitcase, which means I’ve already thought about what I’m going to wear. I like having the flexibility to get up five minutes before I’m supposed to be any place and jump right in.
I’ll save articles to my phone, or read part of a book, and dive back in when I wake up. I pretty much always have a to-do list going, so when I get up the next day I know exactly where I should start.
I always set out my clothes for the next day so they’re ready for me to put on once I’m ready to start my day! I always make my lunch and snacks the night prior as well, so I’m not completely rushing my morning. Once that’s all done, I’m ready to hop in bed.
I take time before I close my eyes to reflect on my entire day: what my favorite part about it was, what I could make time to do the next day, etc.
I try to make sure the house, especially the bedroom area, is reasonably clean.
If I’m with my husband he likes to watch an episode of a television show before bed. It’s nice to shut off your mind that way. If I am by myself, I’ll work right up until the moment I fall asleep.
If the next day is a day when I’m going to work out, I always lay out my gym clothes the night before so I remember to put them on first thing. I find that I am much more likely to flake on my workout if I don’t!
I try to get as close to inbox zero as possible before going to sleep at night so I wake up to as little work as I can.
The routine itself makes my morning easier because I don’t have to make fifty decisions before I start my work day.
I know what’s going to happen, what I’m going to wear, and drink and eat, so I can start the day without feeling frazzled or having to choose between five kinds of cereal, ten outfits, or three ways to start the day. As a result, I experience less decision fatigue as the day goes on.
I’ll typically share a small cup of tea with my wife before bed. Her evening routine is as thoughtful as my morning routine, so I try and support her even though I can fall asleep anywhere at any time with absurd ease.
When I’m at my best, I’m evaluating my progress of the day and preparing in detail my goals for the upcoming day. And when I’m at my all-time best, I’m implementing Benjamin Franklin’s 13 Virtues.
I like to make a to-do list for the following day. I find I fret a lot less if I pour it out of my head. I used to do a lot of journaling, but that comes and goes in phases, while list-making is a lifelong love.
Sometimes I’ll pack my lunch, or cook ahead to make the following day a bit easier foodwise. But usually I’ll just stack what I need on the table by my bag, so it’s ready to pack up.
I clean my kitchen. I don’t know why but I need to have a clean kitchen when I wake up.
One thing people maybe don’t realize is that 90% of photo work is desk work, like photo processing or emailing back and forth with people. I sit at my table in the kitchen and do all my work. Keeping that space in order is really important to me. A mess can be distracting to me and I’ll wander off to clean it and the next thing you know I’ve not only cleaned my entire kitchen, but I’ve knitted myself a scarf, written five emails to my friends, read half a book, and gotten zero work done.
Also, I love cooking and most days I cook three complete meals for myself in my kitchen, so the kitchen gets a lot of use. Even though I clean as I go I still check it before bed. Having a clean kitchen when I go to bed is my “reset” button for the next day.
Finally, I also set out my planner and any papers I may need for the next day next to my computer.
I put away my computer and smartphone every day before the sun goes down and don’t stare at screens after dark. When I read I use the basic Kindle instead of a tablet with a bright screen, and when I watch movies or a TV series at night I do so in my living room on a couch with my TV far enough away from me, instead of on a bright laptop in my face.
I also never stare into my phone at night and if I have to use it for any reason, I use the super dim shortcut which I’ve set when I triple tap my home button on my iPhone. I also switch my phone to airplane mode before going to bed.
After 4:00pm I won’t consume any caffeine and will have ginger or rooibos tea at night instead. The only supplement I take at night is ZMA which naturally helps with sleep, muscle recovery, and boosts testosterone.
I black out all light and put stickers over all LED indicators on my air conditioning and electronics at night. I close my curtains but don’t worry about having blackouts as I like having a bit of sun wake me up in the morning.
The best way to relax into sleep if my mind isn’t settled yet is to either meditate or have sex.
Absolutely! I think the night-before routine is such a vital part of implementing a successful morning routine. I love the feeling of going to bed knowing that tomorrow is already set up for success.
On an ideal evening I: clean up the kitchen with my husband while our kids get ready for bed, snuggle and chat with my kids before saying goodnight, make myself a cup of herbal tea with cream, take my pills/vitamins and wash/moisturize my face, write out my to-do list for the next day, lay out what I’m going to wear the next day, and then settle into bed with a good book.
I don’t always follow this perfectly, but I’ve found that even a loose before-bed routine followed consistently makes such a difference in our home.
Just the basics of not having a heavy meal too close to bed time, not trying to look at my phone too much (I fail this one often), and reading some fiction to get out of my own head.
Yes, putting my phone on airplane mode. It ensures that I actually get an adequate amount of sleep and wake up full of energy. It definitely makes the mornings easier for me.
I check my next day’s calendar, write a to-do list, wash any dishes (I don’t like waking up to a messy kitchen), make sure my office is in reasonable order, and set up the coffee maker.
Yes, I’m a huge fan of streamlining my morning — making it both enjoyable and efficient!
I make breakfast the night before (often my overnight oats), prep ingredients for my smoothie, and lay out my clothes for teaching or another fitness class I plan on attending.
Once the light is off, I am out. I am easy. If I am getting really stressed out and anxious, I sometimes take melatonin, but I don’t want that to turn into a bad habit, so I only take it when it’s absolutely necessary.
I just started working out again. I strongly feel it helps your overall mental and physical state. When waking up the next day you feel good about yourself.
I’m a neat freak and I like everything to be clean. Waking up to a clean apartment is the absolute best. It keeps my mind clear.
I always prepare everything I need the night before - I lay out my outfit, set the coffee machine to go off at the exact time I get up, and I put my lunch in a box so that it’s ready to grab on my way out.
I don’t want to waste precious minutes that I could have spent in bed!
If something is swirling in my head, I won’t get to bed easily, so I note it in my to-do list or notes and that usually does the trick. I’m a big fan of writing things down in order to get them out of my head, thus my many lists which are almost brainstorming.
Usually when I shut down work for the evening I list a few things I’ll tackle in the morning. That way I can stop thinking about them for the evening and in the morning I have a ready-made to-do list!
Nope. I am not a believer in doing stuff the night before to get ready for the morning. Then you’ve just doubled your getting ready time.
I make lunches for the day ahead in the morning while I’m in the kitchen getting breakfast.
I try not to check my phone before I go to bed. There are so many amazing articles that I enjoy reading online. However, reading on my phone tends to stimulate me. There’s something about the glow on the phone that keeps me up way too long.
This is entirely dependent on what my schedule looks like the next day.
If it’s a typical day working from home, then no. But if I’m catching a flight early the following morning I make sure my bags are packed the night before and I always lay out a travel outfit so I don’t have to do too much thinking in a half-awake, caffeine-less haze.
Trying to have a lighter dinner in the evening helps make my mornings a sacred refueling time.
I try to finish the day’s activities by 7:00pm (usually finishing with work or the gym) so I can have dinner with my wife.
We’ll then watch a TV show, take the dog on a walk, and catch up on the day. From there we’ll head to bed. It’s a relaxing time.
I lay out my outfit the night before.
Before falling asleep, I go through what happened that day and reflect on whether I prioritized my time efficiently and what I could do differently. I also think about the top five things that happened that day that I’m grateful for.
Well, I have an evening routine as well, and I think that sort of prepares me to get up well in the morning. When I want to look like Bono (my husband’s words), I wear my blue-light blocking orange sunglasses for an hour or so before bed.