Before heading to bed, I like to situate a few things to make my early mornings more manageable. First of all, I situate my wallet, keys, and phone. Then I pack my training bag with any equipment and workout gear I’ll need for my clients and myself. Lastly, I set aside what I’m wearing for the day. (I want to avoid it being obvious that I dress in the dark.)
I try to go through my inbox one last time, make a plan for the following day, and prep whatever’s necessary, including my gym bag and any food I need to take with me. On days when I really have it together, I do a version of my morning routine at night—stretch, read, journal, pray, meditate—but those nights are rare!
No, I don’t. I really don’t need an easy morning. I like to take things as they come. Short of making sure my watch, headlamp, and earbuds are charged, I don’t do a lot of prep work for my morning routine.
I try to make my to-do list for the next day, have a good idea of when my first meeting is (and whether I need to make any special arrangements), and know what I’m wearing (as the clothes can certainly hold up the process of getting ready if they aren’t organized!).
On Sunday nights, I try to review my calendar and set out options for the week on one rack. I clear that clothing rack of everything else on it. This way, even if I’m selecting my outfit in the morning, I’m choosing from an “already determined” selection of items. When it comes to missing shirts or socks or wrinkled stuff, they drive me nuts! I love being prepared and having everything I need in one place and ready to be worn!
Every night before bed I set my clothes out for the next day. I want to make as few decisions as possible in the morning to ensure I am utilizing my time effectively. I also draft up any important emails while I’m sharp and in work mode, so that I can hit the ground running and maximize efficiency.
I meditate and sometimes add on a gratitude meditation. I set up my yoga mat for the next morning. I kiss my daughters goodnight and hug my wife.
The most important thing I do is go to bed at a reasonable hour. If I have an early meeting in the morning, I’ll shower, lay out my clothes and makeup, and pack whatever I’ll need. I try to take as much off my morning plate as possible.
Absolutely. I set out my clothes for the day (so I don’t have to think about them in the morning) and put my journal, headphones, and a bottle of water in my little meditation space in my studio.
I pack my work bag with some non-fiction reading (at the moment it’s The Mastering Engineer’s Handbook) and some lighter material, like a travel book. I’ll then prepare my lunch and figure out what I’m going to wear the next day. I even set the breakfast table! This way, I don’t have much to think about in the morning.
I put my phone on airplane mode at around 10:30pm and leave it on overnight until I’m ready to check my phone in the morning. (I used to get some calls from overseas contacts who weren’t aware of the time difference.)
I’m more of a night owl by nature, but in the heat of writing my most recent book it was important to me that I didn’t have anything work-related on my mind before going to bed. So my wife and I would usually watch a movie at night, an old movie, a classic movie, with the aim of not having any heavy thoughts weighing me down as I fall asleep…
For the same reason I can’t watch disturbing movies, heavy political things, or read heavy books before I go to sleep because I’ll just be up all night. I try to keep it a little bit light before I go to bed.
I like to think about what I will wear to work the next day. I never get too dressed up, but I’ve spent so much time in the past trying to figure out what to wear each morning; having that determined in advance makes getting ready more efficient.
I put out the following things for the next morning the night before:
- My clothes, so I don’t wake up my wife
- My running kit, so I can’t back out of it
- My glasses, wallet, etc., so I don’t forget them
- My phone, so it’s charged (I never take it to bed)
It’s all to give me the impression (albeit a false one) that when I get up at such an ungodly hour, the day is already running smoothly.
Not really, to be honest. Sometimes the kids’ lunches are made, but not always. This is actually where working from home really comes in handy. My mornings can afford to be a little more relaxed because I don’t have to be showered or all that put together, frankly. I put on “real” clothes before daycare drop-off, but that’s about it. Again, brute efficiency is not really the morning goal in our household.
Yes, I prep as much as possible. My husband sets up the coffee maker so I have a fresh brew ready in the morning, and he also packs my lunch. I pack my gym bag, lay out my workout clothes, and prepare all the ingredients for my shake the next morning. Additionally, I make a list of all my main tasks for the next day, both personal and professional. This allows me to step back, assess my plans for the following day, and sleep better.
If I have something that I need to do early the next day, I’ll lay out my clothes and pack my bag the night before—basically, just preparing everything that I can in advance. Generally, though, I try to make sure the dishes are washed and the house is tidy so I don’t have little tasks hanging over my head when I wake up. I find that when things are messy (or left undone), I have a hard time focusing. The physical clutter around me tends to clutter up my mind.
I try to get through all my emails at night so that I have a fresh, clean inbox in the morning.
I talk to my wife about the day’s developments, and I plan what I must do the next day. I give commands to my subconscious mind repeatedly about my lifetime ambition to become the President of India.
If I have a lot of surgeries the next day, I often go over my surgery patient charts the night before. I also review any information—such as new techniques and reports—regarding the operations I’ll be performing the next day.
As a family, we usually gather in one of the girls’ rooms. We sit around sharing highlights of our day, what is on the agenda for tomorrow, and praying. This is a very sacred time for me. It keeps me grounded with my faith and my family, which I believe fuels all that I do in the world and also prepares me for the next day.
I check in on what’s happening the next day before I climb into bed. Since every day is a little different for me, having a clear sense of what the next morning will be like helps me relax.
I also love my wind-down rituals; some of my favorites include playing cards with my husband, watching some mindless entertainment on demand, reading, hot tubbing, having a glass of wine or a cup of tea, and generally reminding myself that my problems are small.
I end my work day creating my to-do list for the next day, but that’s about it.
My wife and I almost always clean the kitchen before we go to bed. It’s such a bummer to wake up to dirty dishes.
It’s always an easier morning when I can wake up, relax, and not worry about email or tasks that need to be done right away. I try to get out any pressing emails the night before, but I do tend to work better in the morning when my mind is refreshed, so I often do some emails at home before I leave for the day. I just try to avoid having to wake up and begin working immediately.
I make sure my notebook and pen are at my bedside, alongside a glass of water. If I don’t have anything hanging over me in the morning, I’ll turn off my phone entirely. This is pretty rare, because I’m an overly optimistic Pollyanna and will want to keep my phone on just in case my bestie calls and wants to take a spontaneous road trip, or my agent calls and has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I have to accept right now.
Over time, I’ve gotten better about feeling tied to my phone in this way, especially because I’ve learned that those opportunities that are meant for you will find you and wait for you even if you don’t have your phone on all the time. One of the best career gigs I ever got in screenwriting came while I was on a three-day cruise where I was too cheap to buy Wi-Fi (plus, I wanted to unplug!), and when I came back in my Facebook messages was my buddy Matt saying “check your email.” I freaked because I thought I had missed my window, but it all turned out fine, because it turns out, they really wanted me on this project! Now I try to have more confidence when I turn my phone off at night.
I wouldn’t say that my nighttime routine makes my day easier, but it certainly makes my dreams more entertaining, which may in turn cause my imagination to take a surprising turn the following day. Right before bed I browse new works by other artists. I find them on my favorite blogs, articles, social media feeds, etc. Then I set my alarm to wake up at the end of my sleep cycle to coincide with my REM sleep. This gives me the best chance of remembering my dreams in the morning.
My dreams are filled with monsters and imaginary creatures, and there is usually a basement that serves as a portal to another place, concept, or state of being. Most people would probably classify them as nightmares, but as a horror fan I find them quite entertaining! Many years ago I would write down my dreams in the morning in an effort to remember them. Later I moved on to sketching scenes from my dreams, and now I simply spend some time fondly reminiscing over them.
Most nights before I go to sleep, I’ll read and draft some emails. I also like to update my task list in my mailbox and outline my priorities for the day. I will prepare the coffee pot the night before, so in the morning, all I have to do is press the on button.
I try to read before going to bed, but that’s honestly very optimistic. My routine in the evening is not that important to me. I don’t have trouble getting to sleep most of the time, so I just make sure that I have the lights out by 10:30 or 11:00pm.
I put Hayden to sleep and once she is down and quiet, I leave her room, get into bed with my computer and Fox News on the TV, and have a little time to myself before turning off the lights. I review the news, study, and prepare for the show the next morning.
We receive a rundown of every person we are going to interview on the show. I look up stories on these individuals, and I read articles and watch newscasts they’ve done before so I am able to carry that into the interview. I often write my questions out the night before, but they’re more like guidelines because when you’re in an interview, the key is to listen. If the person you’re interviewing says something and you have a follow up question, you are going to ask that. I’m a planner and I need to have a rough idea of how the interview is going to go. And if they have a longer story, I have to figure out how to tell this person’s story in a condensed way.
In general, I try to make the morning time as easy and pre-planned as possible. I leave my gym clothes out and have my water bottle full and in the fridge. If I need to remind myself to bring something with me in the morning, I’ll usually put my car keys on top of it as a hack.
I like to listen to music, just to create a more calm environment. That probably makes my mornings a little easier too. I also make sure that everything is packed up in my briefcase. But other than that, I don’t do anything special.
Not really. I don’t feel particularly rushed in the morning.
I get out my yoga clothes and find my towel and mat so that I don’t have to turn on the light in the morning and wake my husband. If I’m putting dinner in the crockpot in the morning, I’ll probably chop all the veggies and do as much of the prep as I can before I go to bed so that it takes as little time and makes as little mess as possible the next day.
The key thing I do before going to bed is journal. I write my life mission on the top of a page, and my three daily objectives below it. By reiterating the big picture of where I am heading, along with the objectives for the following day, when I wake up I know exactly what I am doing and why I am doing it. This is crucial, because the bane of discipline is ambiguity.
I have two large whiteboards in my work space. After the kids are in bed, I take some time to sketch out article ideas that I’ll write about the next day on a whiteboard. This is a dump of my day’s thoughts.
I’ve used a journal while sitting in my car preparing to go into the gym for years. The whiteboard is pretty new—probably the past six months. I have two 4x6 feet whiteboards that are on wheels that I spin around my office. I prefer sketching ideas on the whiteboard because, mentally, I feel like I can “fail” more with a whiteboard than even with a journal. The environment of a whiteboard allows for different creative expression.
The whiteboard is fun because I write ideas in bullet-point format and also draw pictures and models and other ways to conceptualize what I’m thinking about. Usually all I need is 5-10 minutes sketching and stretching ideas on the whiteboard to have plenty of framing to start writing my articles.
I like to check my calendar well before going to bed to see what I have scheduled the next day. This allows me to do any extra prep for meetings or events, go over my to-do list, and remember to get my riding gear together so it’s ready to go in the morning.
When I have meetings outside the company I tend to choose my outfit the evening before in case I have to iron anything. On the rare occasion I decide to exercise in the morning before work, I always lay out all my workout gear so I can get out the door quickly.
I usually look at my calendar for the next day to get a sense of what my day will be like.
I prepare my exercise clothes or swimming gear so there’s zero effort the next morning. I plug my phone in to charge on the opposite side of the room so it isn’t the first thing I have within reach when I wake up. I have thirty minutes of reading time on my Kindle to wind down from bright screens and give myself the best possible sleep. Most nights I journal to get thoughts and challenges from the day processed and out of my mind.
I find that I sleep better when I don’t go to bed right after working or doing something that takes a lot of my focus. I try to do something before bed that takes my mind away from the day, and for me that’s usually reading.
I read a variety of things, fiction and nonfiction. Fiction tends to be a little more addictive for me, and I sometimes have a hard time putting the book down and going to sleep. Nonfiction is a little easier to just read a chapter or section at a time. But I read basically anything, and I try to read for at least ten minutes before I go to sleep.
I have to have a book ready! When I don’t have a good book ready to read it’s hard to resist checking my email.
If I’m planning on working out in the morning, I lay out my workout clothes the night before so I am ready to go. I also make sure that my breakfast is prepared so all I have to do is heat it up in the morning.
I write down any ideas and tasks to minimize thinking about them. I also take a warm shower, which ensures better sleep at night. Nothing beats a good night’s sleep if you want a better morning. (Editor: We recently published an article on how to improve your sleep quality.)
When I haven’t already done it, I re-prioritize my to-do list before going to bed. I turn to a new page and list any lesser-prioritized items that I didn’t accomplish on the following day’s list (in order of priority, of course). I then review it again first thing in the morning depending on what I think of in the middle of the night.
When the next day is a travel day, everything is packed and my clothes laid out the night before. Scrambling in the morning always leads to disaster.
I set out my workout clothes. When I set them out the night before, I usually go. When I don’t, I usually don’t. It’s amazing how much of a difference mentally that one step makes for me the next day.
Plan out my schedule for the next day.
I check my calendar to make sure I don’t have anything urgent the next morning.
We live in a tiny house, so in order to not disturb anyone, I try to lay out my laptop, books, and writing materials so that they’re next to the recliner I work in. For some reason, I usually forget to do this. If I was smarter and more organized, I’d have the coffee pot all set up as well.
If I’ve left any loose ends unattended at night, it adds stress to my intentionally calm morning routine, so I try to get things set the night before. I almost always have an outfit picked for the next day before I fall asleep. I usually prep my bag for the morning by packing my laptop and anything I’ll need, and make sure my keys are on the hook by the door, so there’s no last minute panic when it’s time to head out.
I always neaten up, too, no matter how tired I am. I put dishes in the dishwasher, fold the couch blanket and arrange the pillows, and clear off anything left on the coffee table. When the apartment is in order, I’m able to fall asleep without having to make a mental to-do list of things that need to be handled in the morning.
I check to make sure my bike clothes are clean and ready on nights before I ride, but besides that, not really. I don’t iron my shirts or have a pre-loaded coffee grinder or anything like that.
I scan my inbox to make sure I’ve replied to any important emails or action items from the day that are time sensitive. This lowers the chance of waking up to fire drills and allows me to rest easy.
I review my calendar and figure out what I’m going to wear the next day so I’m ready to roll the moment I wake up.
Sometimes I go for a swim at night, which helps me sleep better. When I have to be somewhere in the morning, I like to lay out my clothes the night before so I don’t have to think about what to wear when I’m in a rush to get ready.
Yes! Although I’m a morning person, when my evening routine is not right, I’m not functional until at least 3:00pm.
I update my calendar at the end of each workday (around 5:30pm). Later, right before I go to bed, I set my alarm, review my calendar, and put my phone on airplane mode. Reciting my top four tasks helps me relax. I’m able to start my day with the most important item versus wildly jumping from task to task. Having my phone on airplane mode helps me sleep better. If there’s a real emergency, they’ll call my husband.
I often read an Agatha Christie story before bed.
On occasion I’m particularly diligent and pack my gym bag before going to bed. But other than that, no.
I reflect on my day. I try to think about what went well and what could have gone better. I reflect on what I am grateful for. I visualise what I have mapped out for the next day. I also try to reflect on these things in the morning before I jump out of bed.
Recently I have gotten into a relatively solid nightly routine (not as consistent as my morning routine) of meditating for about fifteen minutes and then sitting in a hot bath for about thirty minutes while reading a book and sipping herbal tea. I also try not to eat during the four hours before bedtime. Currently, at least four out of seven days a week, I eat dinner at 4:00pm.
I always pick out what I’m going to wear the night before, otherwise I invariably have some sort of wardrobe-related meltdown ten minutes before I’m supposed to leave the house.
I usually check the weather to see what the temperature is going to be so I can plan my outfit accordingly (Chicago weather can be so unpredictable at times). If I’m feeling especially prepared, I’ll pack my lunch and gym bag the night before.
Yes, I clear my desk so it’s clean to wake up to.
I’ve meant to start writing down my top three tasks for the next day before going to sleep, but I haven’t made that a habit yet.
Not really, unless making sure I’m not out of coffee beans counts!
When I know I’ll be up early the next morning to head into the mountains for a long run, I tend to get all of my clothing organized and out of the bedroom so that I’m not bashing around waking up my partner.
Getting mentally prepared for the next day’s tasks helps tremendously, especially with the anxiety I’ve picked up in recent years building my site. I do a thorough scan of upcoming deadlines, meetings, etc., and make sure I know what I’m getting into first thing in the morning when I set myself down for work.
I also try to be off all screens two hours before bed, as I hear they suppress the production of melatonin (but Netflix has been so great lately!).
I read before I go to sleep every night. I only read books before bed, not newspapers, which may disrupt my sleep. I find that when I read the news, it makes me too alert and unable to fall asleep until much past my bedtime.
In general, the news is very negative and affects me mentally and, in turn, affects my sleep. I read historical books before I go to bed, and since they aren’t thrillers, I can easily fall asleep after. Nothing makes me feel stronger in the morning than a good night’s sleep! Sleeping well re-energizes me so that I can easily handle a twelve-hour workday.
When the kids go to bed (they have to be in bed around the same time every night), I usually work for a couple of hours or read nonfiction - it’s how I clear my brain. I love learning about new things in business and technology. I have some good books and a good articles feed, so I always have plenty to read. I also use this quiet time to work on product and company plans, taking time to connect the dots for the business by being reflective and contemplative.
I make sure my morning workstation is clean and tidy, so I can jump right in when I wake up and not get distracted by clutter.
The best thing I can do to make my morning easier is to get to bed on time.
Before I go to sleep I think about what I have to do the next day, and mentally choose what I’m going to wear so that I’m not scrambling the next morning.
We have a whiteboard on our refrigerator, and before I go to bed each night, I write the next day’s schedule for our busy family on the board. It allows me to think through what’s ahead and it’s the first thing that gets checked in the morning. Someone gave me this advice four years ago when I was describing the chaos and questions that made up our mornings, and I’ve done it every day since. It’s super simple and surprisingly powerful.
I also read every night before I go to sleep. It’s a habit I’ve had since childhood. I’m happiest when I’m in the middle of a great book, but if that’s not the case a magazine article will do.
I always get my clothes for the next day laid out and ready the night before. My brain is foggy in the morning and I would never be able to decide what to wear if I didn’t do this. I hate lights in the morning, so I usually get dressed in the dark!
I’m not sure if this really makes my morning easier or if it just helps me sleep better, but sometimes I write my to-do list for the next day before bed. When everything is out on paper (even if it’s a lot), I don’t need to worry about carrying the tasks in my head and forgetting something. Plus, it gives me a place to start my day once I get to work.
The thing I’m ridiculed most for by my family is my habit of preparing my clothes the night before: shirt always ironed (I watch a rerun of Friends while ironing it); pants, socks, shoes, and belt all laid out. I know… crazy. My son-in-law calls it “The Todd Method.” The other day he said, “I had an early morning meeting so I did ‘The Todd Method’ last night.” The family all laughs. But as they are all running around the house in the morning looking for that shoe or sweater they can’t find, I’m calmly walking out the door dressed and ready for my day - and in a pressed shirt! So, laugh away!
I tend to look over my next day’s schedule before bed and, if I have something professional early, pick out what I’m going to wear to streamline getting ready in the morning. I speak with my daughter about her schedule if there is anything I’m involved with so we are on the same page.
The only thing I do before going to sleep (and not every night) is jot down a brief list of what needs to be accomplished at some point in the future. But that is more about clearing my mind for sleep, as I frequently don’t even look at the list when I wake up the next morning. I cringe when I recall how often I used to wake up in the middle of the night thinking about stuff that I needed to do, even things that weren’t urgent. That, thankfully, rarely happens now.
No. People talk about planning for the next day ahead of time to make them more productive. I see no reason to do that. I spend most of my working day attending to what is urgent and delegating the rest to others. I am “uber anal” during the waking hours, so there’s no reason to prepare for the next day. The next day is already set up and, in fact, things are scheduled weeks if not months in advance.
I should mention that my work and business interests are virtual. I work on my own each day in a shared workspace (think a WeWork-type environment), unencumbered by physical meetings. When I need to interact with someone, it’s via chat, email, or Skype. By nature these are short, to the point, transactional, and productive. No B.S.
I pack my gym bag and put it in the car, get the stovetop espresso maker ready so that I only have to turn on the stove in the morning, and pack my breakfast and lunch.
I get my little guy to sleep around 8:30pm and spend the last few hours of the evening relaxing with my husband, watching our favorite shows, and working on lettering projects. It helps me unwind.
I also clean my workspace before the night ends if I’ve made a mess of it that day. I can’t start the day with clutter on my desk!
I check my calendar right before bed and make a Post-it list of everything I have to do the next day. I sleep better when I’m organized.
At night, what I do with my kids, since I want to spend time and connect with them, is I rub their feet with lavender oil and talk to them. I usually do this for 5-10 minutes with each of my four kids. It’s really nice and the lavender oil even helps everyone sleep better. It’s become a nightly ritual.
I start to wind down for the evening as soon as I leave the house in the afternoons for yoga or a walk with a friend. That means I don’t respond to email (unless I feel like it or there’s something particularly pressing), and I don’t even put pressure on myself to check after about 5:00pm. I have dinner around 6:00 or 7:00pm, then watch a show, read a little bit, and go to sleep.
As I lay my head down on the pillow, I love the nights where I remember to go through my set of “wind down” questions; they help me clear my mind, and often help me fall right asleep. Here they are: What was my highlight of the day? My low? What is one thing I’m proud of or want to celebrate? What is one (or more) things I’m grateful for? What is one unanswered question I’m facing?
I keep a legal pad and red felt pen by my bed. Every night before I go to sleep, I write down the things I want to do and accomplish the next day. I’m much happier and get much more done when I’ve got that list of priorities to go on.
I like to look at my day ahead. That could be picking out clothes for a speedy morning or mentally preparing for classes or meetings. I like to be prepared so that I can start my day ready to go. But I never look at my schedule or emails after dinner - this is my wind-down and family time.
I’m a non-stop worker all day, every day. I love what I do. My partner inspired me to create some untouchable time to just be home, and it has been so helpful. When I’m on the road or my family is away, I work through the night and on the weekends; but when they’re home, that time is off limits. It’s helped me learn how to turn off and to enjoy my life.
I try not to check my phone before I go to sleep because it’s too tempting to check Instagram or read articles. Plus, the light from the phone stimulates my eyes, rather than lulling me to sleep.
I fill my giant tumbler with ice water and place it on my nightstand. I also set out my workout clothes next to my sink and plan my workout for the next day - spin class, dance workout, strength training, or yoga. I also set out my work outfit for the next day and pack my bag so I’m ready to go!
Absolutely. I prep everything the day before. I make the kids’ lunches so they are ready to grab and go. I prep all the animals’ breakfasts. We lay out clothes for the kids.
I drink a cup of herbal tea and read an interesting book. That’s about it! I also keep my phone out of arm’s reach and never, ever take my laptop to bed. My morning is easiest when I have a good night’s sleep and don’t stare at any screens in the hour before bedtime.
Before going to bed, I make sure I have coffee in my fridge for the next morning, as I don’t want to take the time to make it when I get up. I feel like my mental functions are slower without coffee (although I’m sure this feeling is 90 percent placebo effect!).
Also, before I hit the hay, I try to organize my email inbox by deleting non-urgent noise. I can’t sleep when my email is too out of control. Doing this the night before also helps me focus on replying to the urgent or important items first thing in the morning without taking up too much of my creative time.
I prime myself to go to sleep faster by following a strict pre-bed routine. This includes eating a bowl of ice cream while watching a low-brow TV show. I also pick out the next day’s outfit, make school lunches for the kids, and make sure my kitchen is spotless.
I review what my next day looks like so I can be mentally prepared for it. I make sure I sleep at least seven and a half hours because I know I need that much time to feel my best.
Once I get in bed I always read for a few minutes to calm my mind.
I read for about ten minutes. I really love warm blankets, so I stick my Barefoot Dreams blanket in the dryer and heat it up so I am all cozy.
If I’m running in the morning, I lay my clothes out as a kind of “flat Jenna,” so I can jump right into them and maximize the amount of time I’m in my bed. I am an efficiency freak and will do anything to optimize my time.
I have a specific evening routine I carry out as well so to help me wind down my day and start the next one with a sense of direction; part of my evening routine is writing down My 3 Absolutes for the next day. I prepare my NutriBullet shakes for the morning the night before, journal in an app I use called Day One, and then meditate (using the Muse device when I’m at home and Calm when I’m traveling).
I wish I did because I like to take my time in the morning, but I almost never do.
I look at my calendar and make sure I’m prepared for all my meetings the next day and have time booked and labeled with anything else I need to do. I also make sure I’m clear on the couple of things that I must get done the next day so I can focus on making those happen.
I never want to wake up stressed, so knowing what I need to do and making sure my schedule will enable that is critical. My assistant is often available late at night to make last-minute calendar changes, which is also super helpful (Thanks, E!)
I do not check email before falling asleep! Chances are there will be something I need to attend to, and I’ll want to do that right away, even if it can really wait till the morning. Or there will be something discouraging that I’ll have to give a lot of thought to, which makes it harder to fall asleep. By not checking email, I can sleep more easily. I just have to remember that a ten-hour difference usually won’t make or break the issue at hand.
By the time bedtime comes, my mind is filled with random thoughts that come to me throughout the evening. This part of my bedtime routine is crucial for me - I have to banish those thoughts from my head. If I don’t take the time to tease them out, I can’t sleep peacefully because I get too excited or too anxious about losing them.
I therefore spend between 20-30 minutes free-writing my thoughts in a journal (nothing fancy - just something I bought from the dollar store). This has been a meditative and uninhibited form of creative expression for me in which I can actually feel present. It’s liberating because I don’t have to think about who’s reading it. It’s all mine!
One thing I always do is turn off my phone at least one hour before bedtime. There’s no solution I can provide to any problem at that time of the night, so what’s the point of having your phone on and checking emails and texts? After my kids go to bed I do a brain dump by making a list of all the things I want to dominate the next morning. Then I watch an episode of a favorite show, hit the hot tub for fifteen minutes, then go right to bed. With my mind clear and my body relaxed, I get a good sleep, which sets me up for a perfect morning.
Yes, I have a worksheet that I use to plan and execute my days. It has space to record my studying, my key tasks, and track my dailies. It also has space for the daily “high,” “low,” and “learning.” Each night I sit and plan the next day so that I know exactly what I will do when I begin my work.
Tad makes fun of me for this, but old habits die hard - when I was young I started picking out my outfits the night before school, and I still do this! I lay out everything from my underwear to my jewelry. I also pack my backpack and purse. This ritual gives me a sense of tranquility before bedtime.
I also make sure the kitchen is tidy and ready for the next day. To me, nothing is more depressing than coming into a messy kitchen in the morning.
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 this 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. 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 bedtime, 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.
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.