A nightly routine will set you up for a productive day
Why routines are important for productivity
There can be a certain stigma around the idea of a ‘routine’. Many young professionals are opting for freeing career choices as opposed to the traditional 9-to-5 jobs. They’re creating careers for themselves that embrace technology in order to enjoy the freedom that they crave. However, we should not be afraid of the structure that a productivity system provides!
Self-driven high performers know that routines are essential to maximizing productivity and training our brains to work as efficiently as possible. They realize the immense benefits of building and using a productivity system. When we design a routine and stick to it, we reduce the number of decisions that our brain has to make.
For instance, the question of “What should I wear today?” becomes “I will put on my work uniform, which I wear every day”. The question of “What should I eat?” becomes “I will eat this meal I prepared for myself a few days ago”.
By embracing a routine, we reduce the stress on our brains. This puts it in a more restful state, allowing us to focus on what’s actually important.
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Your evenings are particularly important for setting the tone of the next day. Although, you may think that each new morning is a fresh start, this is not necessarily true.
We take quite a bit of yesterday’s baggage with us. A restless night can easily become a foggy morning, which in turn can result in an unproductive day.
You can take care of minor tasks like preparing your clothes or your food for the next day. Though you may have to handle these activities, leave some time to relax.
You can be productive by participating in relaxing activities. For example, make the most of your evening free-time and read about something you enjoy. Part of readying ourselves for bed is to disengage from the stress of the day to better rest our minds.
By developing a consistent, productive night routine you set yourself for a better night’s sleep as well as a more productive morning the following day.
Learn to relax, actively
It might seem a little counterintuitive but many successful, high performers people swear by exercising before bed. Beware that the intensity of your workout may affect your sleep.
Introducing something as simple as an evening walk around the block to your nightly routine, you actively transition your brain from ‘work-mode’ to ‘rest-mode’.
Yoga or some simply stretching are also good ways to help you unwind.
When we exercise and use our brains to focus on the movement, our thoughts flow more naturally. They’re less likely to find themselves hung up on small details. You may even find that it spurs a boost in creativity!
Tidy your living space
Another simple night routine to ready yourself, your mind, and your home for bed time is to tidy up a bit. It doesn’t have to be anything big.
Something as simple as doing the dishes before bed or putting away dirty laundry can significantly save yourself from any mental wear. Any weight you may feel from looking at a dirty home first thing in the morning is not that pleasant.
It’s important to remember the impact our living and working spaces have upon our mental state and ability to function productively and efficiently.
Make your bed a place to sleep
Many of us are guilty of this. We tuck ourselves into bed with a glass of water on the nightstand, all ready to enter the land of nod. Then, we pull out our phones and suddenly two hours have gone by.
It’s just as bad or even worse to take laptops to bed with the temptations of work emails and YouTube or Netflix. Remember, the news will be there tomorrow morning. Social media will be there tomorrow morning.
You don’t need to leave all your electronics in another room. If you use your phone as an alarm clock, it might help quell any temptation by leaving it to charge on another side of the room. That way it’s out of reach from your bed.
This may even help you hop out of bed in the morning if you have to get out from under the covers just to turn off the alarm.
If you have to, take out anything that might distract you from sleep. Not only electronics, but books, magazines, gadgets, or any other distracting items. That way when you enter your bedroom at night, you’re there to lay in bed and sleep.
You want to create an environment that is most conducive to sleep. It’s just like getting hungry the minute you enter the kitchen. When you turn your bedroom, and by extension your bed, into a place you associate only with sleep you will naturally begin to wind down.
Prepare your body for bed
Finally, as adults, many of us allow the simple sleep routines our parents taught us as children to fall by the wayside. It can be so tempting to skip brushing your teeth “just once” or to fall into bed fully dressed after a physically exhausting day.
These rituals are the most important for maintaining a happy and healthy body as well as mind. It’s refreshing to clean our bodies before sleep–not to mention how much cleaner it keeps our bed sheets–and so much more relaxing to step into our comfortable sleep clothes.
You might think of it as a little ritual, a quiet time for meditation on the events of the day, so that as you cleanse your body you also cleanse your mind.
Brush your teeth, shower if you prefer to wash in the evening, and fall asleep in a cool, peaceful room.
Follow a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends
During the weekends, it can be very tempting to stay up late, sleep in, and simply throw all of your regular routines out the window. Sleep routines, however, should be followed as often as possible, not just on work days.
In fact, the most important part of your nightly routine should be a consistent sleep schedule.
Countless studies have shown that consistent sleep schedules, i.e., going to bed and waking up at the same times every day, are linked to better sleep quality throughout the week, as well as better memory and concentration.
Now, this doesn’t mean you must stick to the sleep schedule of your favorite successful celebrity or entrepreneur. Your sleep schedule needs to work for you and your natural circadian rhythms.
While Mark Wahlberg is rumored to wake up at 3:30 in the morning, former US President Barack Obama is a famous night owl. Just find your rhythm and stick to it.
Stick with it
It’s important to note that you will likely not see results immediately. Test these routines. Find out what works for you. The benefits of establishing a routine rely heavily upon your formation of habits.
It could take a few weeks for your new routine to take root in your life and to establish long-term habits. Stick with it. It may take a little extra effort in the beginning, but it’s worth it. In time, it’ll become second nature and you’ll achieve your goals as a high performer.
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