The evening routine is far more important than the morning routine.
Well, that may be debatable. However, the evening routine doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
Here we list ideas for your evening routine to increase productivity.
1/ Daily and weekly planning.
You’ve just finished work for the day, you shoot for the door and head home.
You spend the evening relaxing, enjoying some television before heading to bed. The next morning you wake up and go ahead with your normal morning routine.
You get to work and you begin planning your day, while your brain is still waking up. In your daze and due to the time that has passed, you’re struggling to remember all the tasks that needed completing today. The task also takes longer due to your morning haze and inability to recall information.
This is the routine that many people find themselves in, and it’s highly inefficient.
Planning for the next day in the evening can have multiple positive effects on your overall productivity.
Firstly, the fact that all your days tasks are written down in the evening means that the list will be ready for the morning. When you are beginning your work day, your brain often needs assistance in gaining optimal focus for the day.
Having the tasks already written down means that focus can be gained by visiting the list first thing in the morning. This also saves time overall. Tasks are written down whilst they are fresh in the mind, rather than spending time in the morning trying to recall them.
The secondary effect of daily planning in the evening is that physically writing down tasks on our mind helps us relax. It is a small investment of 5 minutes each evening which will give you hours of increased relaxation each evening.
Steps such as this can make a profound impact on productivity, particularly over the course of a lifetime.
The effects of weekly planning are very similar. However, they are carried out over the period of a week and include weekly targets.
Give it a try and see if it works for you!
Do you perform a daily review of your work?
Based on stats, it is likely that you do not. Consciously, at least.
It could be argued that you are performing a review of your work when you carry out your planning for that day or week. However, for this point we refer to reviewing as a conscious amount of time allocated to the review of daily or weekly performance.
We often speed through the day, ticking off tasks and trying our best to avoid distractions. We then transfer any tasks that we didn’t manage to complete today onto tomorrows list.
But how to we improve if we don’t review our own performance? If you have performance reviews at work, this may be an opportunity. However, these often lack frequency and unfortunately, they often lack real substance.
Allocate five minutes of your evening to review the tasks that you have completed that day. More importantly, review the tasks that you haven’t completed that day. What went well? Why haven’t I completed a specific task? How could I improve? Remember this goes beyond work. This also includes social and health aspects of life.
The review can be taken as seriously as you like. We could simply think about the review points, or write them down.
Furthermore, we may find that a weekly review is equally effective as a daily review.
We can only improve using information that we are aware of. Sometimes we need to consciously make ourselves aware.
3/ Eating light.
As modern humans, we’ve formed this strange habit of eating our largest meal of the day, just a few hours before we go to sleep. Before we go to lie down in the same position for many hours?
We hear this all the time. ‘Breakfast is the most important meal of the day’.
And for a good number of reasons. As well as the nutritional benefits of eating morning heavy, this can also help us to achieve a greater sleep quality.
Often food can cause us indigestion, which will disrupt our sleep if we eat late. And quite often we eat the largest meal of the day close to the time which we go to bed.
Eat a lighter meal later. Avoid eating within three hours of going to bed if possible. By improving our sleep quality, we are directly improving our productivity. This happens through enhanced performance and through increased memory consolidation.
4/ Sleep preparation.
Do you do through a process of sleep preparation? If not, it may be time to start doing so.
We should also avoid any stress inducing activities before we sleep. This includes physically and psychologically stress inducing activities. This is to avoid the secretion of Cortisol, which can increase alertness.
We should avoid artificial light and screens as this can impact on your Circadian rhythm. Russel Foster is a Circadian Neuroscientist. He describes how most of us brush our teeth in a brightly lit room just before bed, which is one of the worst things we can do before attempting to sleep.
If your bedroom is not yet sleep friendly, it’s time to make some changes. Here are some ideas.
Aim for a cool, quiet and dark environment. Needless to say, you should aim for a mattress which is comfortable for you.
Remove any possible interruptions of your sleep. This includes pets (if possible).
We should aim to engage in only relaxing activities before bed. This could include taking a bath, relaxation exercises or ideally reading a book.
These pre-sleeping habits can develop into cues for your brain, signalling that sleep will follow.
We sleep for around 36% of our lives.
Shouldn’t we do our best to improve the quality of this?
5/ Avoid alcohol.
Easier said than done? This may be the case for many of us.
However, this is killing our productivity.
However, most people don’t understand the loop of alcohol and stimulant dependence they are in. We wake up tired, and reach for the caffeine all through the day and sometimes into the afternoon. We then get home and we don’t feel so tired before bed. So we reach for a glass of wine or beer.
After one or two, we feel sleepy and we go to bed.
This is through the effect alcohol has on the part of the brain called the Medulla. This area of the brain handles automatic functions, such as, breathing, consciousness and body temperature.
You may feel sleepy after a glass or two of Wine, and this is natural. Getting to sleep isn’t the problem. The problem arises as it increases the number of awakenings in the night.
By losing sleep quality, we decrease the ability to consolidate memories from the day. There have been numerous studies to back this up. Decreasing this ability has a profound effect on our performance and thus our productivity levels?
Feeling stressed? If an alcoholic drink is the first thing you think off when you’re stressed, it’s time to develop new relaxation techniques.
Alcohol consumption will only make things worse. Firstly, this prolongs a response to the issue which is causing you to feel stressed. And secondly, your brain function will be lowered after consuming the alcohol (even the next day). Alcohol consumption is also linked with increasing anxiety levels.
Now this doesn’t mean we need to completely abstain. However, it’s important to know the effect that alcohol has on our brain.
Reading and evening routines go together like two peas in a pod.
Think of reading as an activity which gets rid of all the bad stuff (Junk TV, Laptops, Smart Phones, Blue Light, Work, Stress, Cortisol), and replaces it with only good stuff (learning, concentration, improved cognitive function and sleepiness).
There are many scientific reasons why reading is beneficial before sleep.
Boost your productivity by including reading in your evening routine. Even better, include it in your sleep preparation routine and read with a dim light.
7/ Listen to a Podcast.
Podcasts are awesome.
If you’re not listening to them frequently, it’s time to give it a try.
They are the perfect way of turning your downtime into uptime. Commuting? Podcast. Exercising? Podcast? Taking the dog out? Podcast. Having a bath? Podcast.
The thing about podcasts, is that they are so flexible around your routine. And once we get into the habit of listening to podcasts, it’s hard to stop.
We may find that a podcast is extremely thought-provoking, which can be the source of fantastic ideas, or even solutions to your problems.
8/Avoid Blue light.
Reach for your phone while lying in bed? It’s time to cut that out.
Some have cited the use of artificial lights and electronics on evenings as the number one contributor to our sleep problems.
Essentially some artificial lights and electronics contain blue wavelength, which tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. In turn, this disrupts our sleep patterns.
There are a number of steps you can take to remove Blue Light from your evenings which you can read about at Health Line.
Improving your sleep quality can dramatically increase your productivity.
9/ Turn your commute into a workout.
This is one of the most effective forms of exercise you could undertake to increase productivity. This is for three main reasons.
1/ There is little time lost: The time difference between riding a road bike to work and getting the bus will likely be minimal. This way a busy schedule can be optimized.
2/ Feel the Endorphins flow: Watch your productivity surge.
3/ Daily action: Because you are doing this every day, you will see your fitness improve at an astonishing rate through the compound effect.
If this doesn’t suit you, take the time to think about how you could improve your commute. Is there a way you could utilise this time to your benefit?
10/Avoid late Exercise.
Exercise is great for sleep, so long as we don’t complete it just before bed.
Most of us feel highly energised after a workout, which is why many of us exercise first thing in a morning.
There is good reason for this. Exercise releases the hormone called Cortisol, which contributes to activating the alerting mechanism in the brain.
Needless to say, this can interfere with your sleep quality and ability to get to sleep. Try avoiding exercise within three hours of going to sleep.
11/ Meal prep.
This is not the most straight forward form of productivity enhancement in your evening routine.
In this instance we refer to meal prep as preparing your lunches. This could be preparing your lunches for just one day, or preparing your lunches for a week. The effect of this is threefold.
1. Preparing our lunch time meals means that we will have healthy meals prepped for the next day or week. By eating healthy meals, we are nourishing our body. We also have the possibility of including optimal brain and concentration foods.
2. Secondly, we are saving time for the next days lunch break. Rather than spending time searching for and buying our lunch, we can use this time for alternative activities. This could be exercising to avoid the afternoon slump, meditating, or even catching up with work.
3. Thirdly, cooking on an evening can actually reduce stress. This can actually becomes a highly beneficial part of the evening routine before sleep.
12/ Put your phone away.
Many of us sleep with our phone right next to us, often on the bed side table.
This is understandable, as this is often the source of our alarm in the morning. As well as this, many of us have an unhealthy habit of checking our phone before we go to bed and even have the habit of checking it first thing in the morning. Both of which are detrimental to our productivity.
It is not just the effect of blue light which caused problems, but also the effect that checking our phone has on our sleep quality. Furthermore, checking our phone first thing can have a negative effect on our productivity. It upsets our morning routine and frame of mind for the rest of the day.
It’s simple, if the phone is closer to us, we will have an increased temptation to check the phone. Regardless of whether we do or not, the distracting thought is still there, affecting our sleep quality.
By moving your phone to the other side of the room, you decrease this temptation significantly. If you’re using your phone as an alarm, this has a secondary beneficial effect. When your alarm goes off in the morning, we have to get out of bed to turn it off, reducing the chance of pressing snooze and reducing our sleep quality.
If you don’t use your phone as an alarm, the best thing to do is leave your phone outside the room.
Better yet, buy an alarm clock so you have to do this.
Small changes daily can have an astonishing effect on your overall productivity.
Our evening routine will never be as easy as our morning routine to optimise for productivity. However, this should not mean we neglect it.
While evening routines change on a day to day basis, we should still strive to develop good daily habits, which will positively impact on our happiness and productivity.
This would lead us to suggest that the core components of each evening routine should be comprised of daily planning and a solid sleep preparation period each day.
With so many variables each evening, we won’t be able to implement all of the ideas, but we should certainly strive to do so.
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