Something that we’re passionate about is the idea that having a positive, productive, and enjoyable morning routine doesn’t happen by chance.
When we say this it should become immediately obvious that there are certain parts of your morning routine that you can take out (or add in) right now to help you create a more desirable morning. But one area that is often overlooked in these discussions is that of your evening routine, or rather, how you spend your time (anything from the final ten minutes to the four of five hours leading up to it) before going to bed.
As we note in our upcoming book, many people spend their evenings running up the hours before they’re finally bored enough to go to bed. There are exceptions to this rule, such as when we’re out at social events or we’re up against a pressing work deadline, but most of the time we avoid going to bed because we know our main block of leisure time is about to come to an end.
The solution to this isn’t to beat yourself up, but to structure an evening routine that helps you wind down from the responsibilities of the day and get a head start on your morning. We truly believe that your morning routine starts the night before, which is why we dedicate a whole chapter in our book to the little-explored idea of evening routines, due to how influential over your mornings they can be. Dutch project manager Marjolein Verbeek says that her evening and morning routines seem inseparable: “It almost feels like my sleep is part of a daily, twelve-hour-long routine.” We couldn’t agree more.
Let’s explore our three quick tips on how to get started with an evening routine:
Get Ahead of Decision Fatigue in Your Morning
The easiest way to reduce decision fatigue (a reduced ability to make positive decisions due to you being inundated with a large number of choices) in your morning is to set yourself up for success the night before.
If you’re home by a good hour in the evening, get everything in order by writing out a task list for the next day (though we ideally recommend writing this just before you finish work), checking your calendar, preparing lunch boxes, and laying out your clothes—workout or otherwise—for the next day.
Following this simple concept allows you to save your mental willpower for the things that matter the most, rather than using it up deciding what clothes to wear or lunch to bring to work.
Make Use of a Gentle Reminder System
Our mind is a delicate object, and this is rarely more true than first thing in the morning when we’re putting ourselves together (slowly but surely) before the craziness of the day begins.
Add some calm into your mornings by taking a moment out of your evening to put reminders in place for the next day, so when you’re going through your morning routine you’re safe in the knowledge that anything you need to remember is already in hand. For this, we recommend the age-old tactic of placing Post-it notes around your home in areas that you frequent the most (the back of your front door! The fridge! The bathroom mirror!) to remind morning-you of something you’ll be thankful to keep in mind the next day. You may also want to place your keys on top of something you have to remember to take with you in the morning.
Eat Some Charge
This heading is based off one of Benjamin’s favorite quotes from his wife. In a sleepy haze one morning, upon picking up a laptop and trying—and failing—to turn it on, she said: “I think it needs to eat… some charge…”
This point refers not just to charging your phone and others devices overnight (though we recommend it) but also to generally putting everything in place in the evening to start off on the right foot in the morning. Alongside allowing your devices to “eat some charge” we recommend setting up your coffee machine, if you use one, so it’s ready to go from the moment you wake up. (If the smell of coffee is a sure-fire way to get you up and out of bed in the morning, set this up on a timer to start brewing just before your alarm is due to sound.)
We also recommend cleaning up your kitchen (and the rest of your home, if you so wish) as part of your evening routine. As our upcoming website interviewee Jake Knapp told us: “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.”
For a complete break-down of all our tips for getting the most out of your evening routine, as well as interviews with people who have elaborate evening routines (behavioral designer and author Nir Eyal programmed his router to shut off his internet connection every night at 10:00pm), pre-order My Morning Routine (Portfolio/Penguin) today!