Nighttime Routines - Finish Your Day Strong with These 5 Tips
Updated: Sep 11, 2020
“All hell can break loose throughout the day, but because I control the bookends, I know I’m always going to start and finish strong” – Darren Hardy, The Compound Effect
When it comes to productivity, a lot of attention is given to the first “bookend” – our morning routine and how we start the day. After all, strong morning habits not only frame our day but have a long-term effect on health, happiness, and success. A good morning ritual is a hallmark of driven and successful people.
But equally important is how we finish the day. Our evening routines - the other ‘bookend” - can also have an amazing impact on our life giving us focus, energy and a head start for the next day. Benjamin Franklin understood the concept of “bookends” as evident from his autobiography. He revealed his daily schedule which had consistent morning and evening routines. Ben Franklin always ended his day with the question “What good have I done today?” and blocked the last 3 hours of every evening for “Put[tting] things in their places. Super. Music or diversion or conversation. Examination of the day.”
Now not all of us have the ambitions of an inventor, scientist, founding father, and productivity-master like Ben Franklin. Each person’s goals and purpose are unique to them, but we can have more success in our lives if we create small habits and block time in the evening (doesn’t have to be 3 hours 😊) to finish the day strong.
Below are a few habits proven to have a positive impact when incorporated into a person’s nightly ritual. As I mentioned, each of us are different, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach, but you may find that one of these practices work well for you.
This one was much easier for Ben Franklin in the 1700’s than it is for us today. There are so many ways to connect and communicate and multiple devices competing for our attention. Removing these distractions is hard but essential. Buffer time in your winddown routine to create a space void of distractions and white noise. Put the smart phone away and resist the urge to answer one more email or thumb scroll your social feed. Turn off the TV so that you don’t have any outside images or voices lingering in your mind that aren’t serving your purpose.
Plan and prep for tomorrow.
Pick out your ‘zoom day’ work attire. Get your workout clothes ready or packed in your gym bag. Figure out and/or prep breakfast and lunch for tomorrow. These small things eat up time in the morning and often create stress when we are rushing to get out the door or ready for our fist Zoom meeting. Preparing for tomorrow also means reviewing your schedule and determining your priorities. What is the one thing you need to do (or “frog” you need to eat) that will make everything else easier and you feel as though you won the day?
Do some light, meditative stretching.
There was a study published in 2016 that showed how meditative movements such as yoga and tai-chi can improve sleep quality. I run a 5K every other day, so yoga is an important part of my morning and nighttime routine. It not only clears my head but keeps me from waking up the next morning feeling like a knotted ball of string. If you regularly exercise or do intense workouts, stretching helps relieve tightness and tension to relax the body and can also help prevent cramping in the middle of the night. Even for people who do not exercise much, light stretching improves flexibility which is good for your overall health especially as you get older.
Reflect on your day (with gratitude).
Similar to Ben Franklin, your reflection can be prompted by a question - Did I accomplish what I set out to do today? Did I make any incremental steps to becoming a better version of myself? Use the question to center and refocus your attention on what you value most and the priorities you set. Think about the things that went well and what you might have done differently. Build on those learnings at the end of each day.
Also remember to be grateful for the little things. The law of attraction is simple – what you focus on gets bigger, so it’s beneficial to finish your day focused on the people, experiences and opportunities that make you feel grateful. This is a habit I personally live by and even keep a gratitude journal in my nightstand.
Visualize your goals.
Visualization is a technique used by Olympians, elite athletes and leaders all over the world. Create a mental picture in your mind of what achieving a particular goal looks and feels like. Olympian and gold medal swimmer, Missy Franklin said, “when I get there, I’ve already pictured what’s going to happen a million times, so I don’t actually have to think about it.” Whether your goal is to win the 100-meter freestyle or rock a presentation to your CEO, think of visualization as mental training and preparation for the big moments or goals in your life. Visualization is a powerful practice that ends your day with a positive, affirming mindset.
Lastly, whatever routine you establish, just be consistent. Something as simple as going to bed at the same time and getting 7 hours of sleep every night when done consistently, helps program your body for optimal rest and energy so you can take on the next day.
Let us know your thoughts on these nightly habits in the comments. We’d love to hear your tips and what works for you.
Also, ONTrac founder, Xan Hong, shared his morning “bookend” routine back in June and what was effective for him during the COVID-19 quarantine. Definitely worth a read.
Have an awesome week!