While many people pay attention to morning habits, the truly successful people know that what you do in the evening is just as important.
The activities you choose to do during those precious minutes right before you go to bed all play a part in having productive days. Whether it's checking your phone or reading a book, take a moment to assess which ones help you or hinder you from performing at your best the following day.
Here are 12 evening habits worth developing:
01. Evaluate your day
Humans are remarkable beings in the way that we can always strive to be better. We have this unique ability to evaluate our situation and come up with ways to improve ourselves whether emotionally, physically, or mentally.
For this reason, it's always a good idea to reflect on the day you've had and ask yourself:
What happened? What worked? What didn't work? What can you be proud of? What can you learn from and then let go? What can you improve on tomorrow?
These questions may seem trivial at first but once you develop the habit of checking in, you'll find that it'll be easier to stay on your game and move the needle daily.
02. Write things down
As suggested by productivity specialist David Allen, our minds are for thinking, not remembering. It's most valuable to us when it isn't overwhelmed and when it's free to process and filter what is important.
Aside from capturing to-dos or activities, writing things down can help us process our emotions and provide release from confused or negative thoughts. It can also be a way to be thankful if you use a gratitude journal, and when done consistently, it can even help you maintain focus on your goals or keep track of your progress.
03. Plan the next day
Once you've evaluated your day and captured everything on your mind in writing, it's time to plan the next day. Not only is it more convenient to plan at night (people seldom have enough time in the morning), but it is also logical. Once you wake up, you won't have to spend valuable brainpower and morning minutes 1.) listing down things you need to do, 2.) deciding which ones to do, and 3.) committing to do them in a certain order.
Basically, you'll get to wake up and hit the ground running.
04. Maintain personal hygiene
This one goes without saying. Maintaining a nightly regimen for your body (and beauty!) includes basic activities such as washing, brushing, flossing, removing makeup, applying moisturizer, cleaning contact lenses, and so on.
05. Prepare tomorrow's outfit
There's a reason why Steve Jobs chose to put on the same type of outfit each day — it's called decision fatigue. Our brainpower is not an unlimited resource and it weakens with every choice we make such as what to eat, what to buy, where to go, what to say, how to conduct ourselves, and so on. It just makes sense to spend this precious asset on more important work instead of thinking of what to wear.
Now, I'm not suggesting you buy a bunch of black turtlenecks, jeans, and sneakers. But it will help to prepare what you'll be wearing tonight instead of in the morning when you most need to save time and brainpower.
Want to develop the right habits and make them stick?
06. Practice mindfulness
Being mindful means having a heightened sense of awareness of our present thoughts, feelings, and surroundings. This is especially beneficial after a long day hard at work because it's during this time that it's easiest to forget why we do what we do and for whom.
Take note that meditation, while extremely effective in achieving this, is not the only way to practice mindfulness. You can also try eating slowly and with intention, paying attention to your senses or your body parts, or focusing on the positive side of circumstances.
07. Connect with loved ones
Oftentimes everything becomes so automatic that we fail to remember what's essential — our relationships with our loved ones.
Ending the day connecting with your loved ones — your spouse, children, relatives, friends — by engaging in meaningful conversations with them or even hugging them will remind you of your purpose and keep you grounded on what's important.
Reading is one powerful habit to develop whether in the morning, at work, or at night. Just ask Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, two of the richest and most intelligent people in the world, who are reported to read more than one book a week.
Reading not only stimulates your mind and expands your vocabulary but it also improves your memory and helps develop your focus. When practiced in the evening, it can serve as a restful activity, a technique for "shutting down" the body. Just try to avoid reading through a screen and instead opt for a paperback copy.
09. Set the alarm and put it away
This step isn't absolutely necessary but there are still certain benefits. Putting your alarm across the room forces you to physically get up and get out of bed as soon as it rings in the morning.
Do you hit the snooze button and go back to sleep for 30 minutes each day? If you calculate how long that is in one year, that's the equivalent of one whole week!
10. No electronics one hour before sleeping
Did you know that the blue light your phone emits increases the release of cortisol and restricts the production of melatonin? Cortisol is the hormone responsible for alertness while melatonin controls your sleep/wake system. Talk about counter-productive!
For this reason, you should stop using electronics one hour before sleeping so as to help your body get ready for bed.
Still unconvinced? Read this article from the Harvard Business Review on other ways electronics hinder you from having restful sleep and consequently, negatively impact your productivity.
11. Dim the lights
Based on the same principle as #10, another way to promote better sleep is to dim your lights, shut the curtains, or use an eye mask when you're about to rest. Remember, light plays an important role in maintaining our natural body cycle and the absence of light signals to our bodies that it's time to go to sleep.
12. Sleep earlier
This one also goes without saying. A good amount of sleep helps your mind and body recover exceptionally better on a daily basis. It allows you to perform at your optimum level whether physically, emotionally, or mentally. Sure you can opt for energy drinks or caffeine but it's best to think of your body for long-term sustainability.
Just as morning habits help us start the day off on the right foot, evening habits help us end the day on a high note.
As I mentioned before, the 12 activities I shared here are just that — activities. Adopting any of them just once or twice will get you results, no doubt, but probably not the kind you're after.
If you're looking to have consistently intentional and productive days, these activities need to be developed into habits.
Share in the comments below: Which of these evening habits do you already do? Which ones are you looking to develop?