We all know the adage, "Begin your day the night before." This post is about how I put that quote into practice.
To give you some background, I have a morning routine that begins between 5am and 5:30am. It's a good habit I've formed over the years. I knew I was starting my day off right with my morning routine, but I never felt like I was finishing it right.
After putting the kids down, my wife and I found ourselves glued to the television or our phones until 9:30pm or 10pm. It's easy to do. For the record, I do think there's great value in kicking back and enjoying a good show. But for 3 hours straight? Was this how I really wanted to end my day?
I discovered what I really wanted was a more fitting conclusion to my day. Wouldn't it be nice to bookend each 24-hour period with a solid routine?
I agree with Jayson Demers, founder of AudienceBloom, when he wrote, "one of the most overlooked productivity and schedule hacks is the entrepreneur’s nighttime routine."
My wife and I began our evening routine in the beginning of 2015. Ours' is a one-hour period that starts at 8:30pm. We certainly don't have a perfect record on this, but it's something we like to strive for. I've broken it down into sections chronologically and used alliteration for your pleasure (or lack thereof).
Reward (5 min)
If you find ways to reward yourself when implementing new habits, you're more likely to succeed in forming them. So, once the TV goes off at 8:30pm, the first thing we do is crack open a bottle of wine. That's our reward. Me and the wife will enjoy a glass throughout the hour. Again, gives us a great incentive to shut off the TV.
Reflect (10 min)
The next thing we do is ask each other the following question:
"If you could live this day over, what would you do the same and what would you do differently?"
This is similar to Benjamin Franklin's question, but I think better (Sorry Ben) because you're reinforcing the good, while bringing attention to the areas where you want to improve. What I like most about this question is that it helps you stay aware. My wife and I have found that this question succinctly gets to the big moments of our day and makes reflecting painless.
Review (10 min)
It's nice to know what tomorrow is going to look like the night before. So the next thing we do is look at our schedules for the following day; we review each other's as well.
This simple act helps me not miss anything or be taken by surprise come sunup. It's nice to know what's on my wife's schedule too. She helps me stay up to date with events like kids appointments or family outings.
Reset (15 min)
Resetting for us is about preping for the next morning. You'd be surprised by how much peace can come from a little prep. Here's what we do. We clean every dish, load it into the dishwasher and start it. This ensures everything will be clean and ready to roll in the morning. I have to confess, my wife usually gets stuck with this job.
I always place my coffee cup and a Keurig k-cup in the machine in advance. I set my Bible, the book I'm reading, my journal, iPad and wireless keyboard on the side table so I don't have to go looking for them in the wee hours. And lastly, I also set out my early-morning clothes next to the bed. Once again, this is all about setting myself up for a peaceful and automatic morning routine.
Read (20 min)
We spend the final part of our evening routine reading. Fiction is a great nightcap to an evening. I also save lots of blog posts to Pocket and may read one or two during this time. Daily readers are a good option also. I've got one by CS Lewis that I enjoy glancing at every now and again.
So there it is, our evening routine that we enjoy so very much. You may be reading this and think it's too regimented; I get it. It's not for everyone. Maybe try to implement one or two of the sections. I do, however, think that some sort of evening routine is richly beneficial and I recommend implementing one of your own.
Part of the secret to tomorrow's success is hidden in your evening routine. John Maxwell says, "There are only a handful of important decisions people need to make in their entire lifetimes." I'm convinced implementing a nighttime routine is one of them.
Do you have a nighttime routine? If so, I'd love to hear about it. Drop me a comment or shoot me an email. I'm always looking for ways to improve what I'm doing.