After a busy day, it’s quite challenging to wind down and get ready for a good night’s sleep. When I didn’t have an evening ritual, often I found myself working, reading, or watching TV shows until late.
And when you’re ready to go to sleep, you can’t. Your mind is buzzing with thoughts you don’t want at that time of day.
It’s no secret that a lot of people have difficulties with sleeping. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 45% of Americans say that poor or insufficient sleep affected their daily activities at least once in the past seven days.
Why’s the evening so important? Well, you might have a perfect morning ritual, a fully planned calendar, and the intention to crush your day, but if you lack the energy, you’re not doing anything productive.
During the past six months, I’ve experimented a lot with evening and morning rituals. What I’ve found is that a morning ritual is easy to implement in your life.
But they’re also easy to quit. When we wake up tired, we often fall back on our, not helpful, habits.
End result? You lose and life wins. You end up not focused, our of control, agitated, and just not happy overall.
That’s why I’ve created an evening ritual that helps me to get ready for some well-deserved rest. We all know it: Get 7–9 hours of sleep. But too often life gets in the way and we don’t follow common sense.
But with the following evening ritual, I’ve found a good way to bring more consistency in my evenings, and therefore, my life.
From minute 0 to minute 10: Close The Day
Every evening I take 10 minutes to journal about my day. In a few sentences, I write about what I’ve accomplished, what I’ve learned, and anything that’s worth remembering.
That simple exercise helps me to:
- Remember what I did (sounds stupid, but we forget most things we do).
- Review my progress and see whether I’m doing all the things that I should be doing (like reading, working out, spending time with my family, writing, talking to people I work with).
I’ve learned this exercise from Jim Rohn. He says:
“At the end of each day, you should play back the tapes of your performance. The results should either applaud you or prod you.”
It’s simple: Close the day before you start a new day. Also, close every week before you start a new week. Similar for every month, and every year.
Sounds simple, right? It’s one of those “simple” ideas that have a huge impact on your life.
From minute 10 to minute 20: Review Tomorrow’s Calendar
This is essential. When you wake up, you want to know exactly what your day is about. Do you have any important meetings or calls? Deadlines, maybe? What do you have to get done?
When are you working out? Do you have any pressing items on your agenda? When are you dealing with them?
This simple exercise takes away almost all the stress and anxiety I have.
Most anxiety comes from unsolved problems. And often, we worry about problems that are not real. But when you say to yourself: I’m going to work on problem X from 10 AM until 11 AM, you can relax.
Also, there’s nothing you can do late in the evening. Just go to bed, already. Leave the problem solving for tomorrow when your brain is fresh.
From minute 20 to minute 25: Prepare your outfit
“Oh, you’re so vain.” No, I don’t want to unnecessarily stress my brain. Look, your brain is a muscle. And after a certain amount of decisions, your brain runs out of juice. And that means the quality of your decisions will decrease.
That’s called Decision Fatigue. But I’m not worried about that in the evening because I’m headed to bed so my brain can recharge. A few extra decisions won’t hurt. However, those few extra decisions will hurt your productivity if you think about your outfit in the morning.
So why not prepare your outfit so you don’t have to use your precious brainpower in the morning?
“Why don’t you wear the same thing every day?”
I’m no Steve Jobs.
From minute 25 till minute 30: Visualize
Because I’ve gone through my calendar earlier, I know what my day will look like. Next up: Visualize the next day in detail.
Charles Duhigg talks about this exercise in his new book Smarter Faster Better. Duhigg writes about how the most productive people visualize their days with more specificity than the rest of us.
I prefer to do this exercise in the evening because when I wake up in the morning, I still remember what I’ve visualized.
The result of this evening ritual is this: NO MORE snoozing.
You won’t believe how much I would hit the snooze button in the past. In fact, I would snooze so often that the alarm on my phone would just give up. The hardcore snoozers know what I’m talking about. Hit snooze so often and you win.
The opposite is true. Snoozing is for losers.
But I’m not losing anymore because of this 30-minute evening ritual. As a result, I go to sleep without stress, and I wake up with focus: I exactly know what I have to do to turn the day into a success.
And that’s what I want to achieve with this ritual. 30 minutes of your evening sounds like a pretty good ROI if you want to improve your life.
So give it a try tonight and find out for yourself. But don’t be surprised if you wake up tomorrow morning ready to kick life in the ass.