How you end your day before you get to bed is probably one of the most important things that will determine your life. Some people underestimate the importance of their evening routine, while most people don’t really care about it.
What you must understand is that your evening ritual is as important as your morning ritual and how you start your day. This is because your routine will affect the quality of your sleep and if you cannot get a good night sleep, guess what will happen the next day? You will go through your day like a zombie.
On the contrary, when you get enough quality sleep, you will be beaming with energy the next day and able to perform in your peak state. Productivity is not just about how you manage your time, it is also about how you manage your energy. This is why having a good evening ritual is important for success.
Besides, sleep is an important part of your life. Most people spend about one-third of their lifetime sleeping, and since you are going to sleep anyway, why don’t just make sure you get the most out of it, right?
Science and studies have shown that when you go to sleep, your body heals itself and undergoes rejuvenation. It is an activity that will help your brain to work properly and to ensure your emotional well-being.
I hope I have convinced you of the importance of having a good evening ritual. To be honest, even I myself am feeling guilty when it comes to this. Sometimes, I will still fail to follow through some of my routines and break the rules.
And I believe that it is important for you to learn and to adopt some of the best evening rituals that will make you more successful in life.
In this article, I’m going to share with you the 7 best evening routines that are adopted by some of the most successful people out there. Try to make them yours and see if they will make you more productive and allow you to accomplish more in life.
1. Get Unplugged
This is a very common evening ritual that everyone knows they should practice, but sad to say that most people are not doing it. They know that they should disconnect themselves from work and unplug from technology such as their phones, tablets, and computers, but they still do it.
Researchers have found that the blue light emitting from your phone or laptop mimics the brightness of the sun, as a result, it can prevent your brain from producing melatonin, which is an essential hormone that can tell your body when it is time to sleep and wake up.
Furthermore, when you use your phones for long hours before sleeping, it will lead to poor sleep, vision problem, and other serious health issues such as cancer.
Michael Kerr, the international business speaker and also the author of The Humor Advantage says that highly successful people do anything but work right before they get to bed. According to Kerr, successful people don’t obsessively check their email and they try to not deal with any work-related task before their bedtime.
So get unplug from the world. Turn off your phone and shut down your computer, and don’t forget your TV too. Try to avoid using these devices before your bedtime.
2. Reflect Your Day
Steve Jobs, the amazing entrepreneur who revolutionized the mobile industry has a ritual of asking himself a question each morning. He asked, “If today were the last day of your life, would you want to be doing what you’re doing?” Jobs asked this question to reflect his life, but he did it in the morning.
Benjamin Franklin practiced the same ritual to reflect on his day by asking himself, “What good have I done today?” The only difference was that Franklin did it every night. Well, whether you do it at night or in the morning, it doesn’t matter. What truly matters is that you take your time to reflect your day.
So make this your evening ritual. Reflect on your day on what you have accomplished. You can also keep a journal and write down the things and experience you have gone through during the day.
The organizational psychologist and author of The YOU Plan, Michael Woodward says, “Remember to take some time to reflect on the positive moments of the day and celebrate the successes, even if they were few and far between.”
Do you know that taking a few moments to think about what you have achieved in the day can lift up your mood and make you positive?
What you focus on will expand. When you think about the victories you have accomplished in the day, regardless of whether they are big or small, they will boost your confidence and inspire you to do more the next day.
This is not to say that you cannot focus and reflect on what went wrong in the day. In fact, most successful people would agree that you should reflect on your mistakes and failures so that you can learn from them and use them as stepping stones to produce better results.
Just make sure that you don’t dwell on the negative feelings and emotions. Instead, be rational and reflect with an open-minded thinking. When you found out what went wrong, just acknowledge that there is nothing you can change at the moment and tell yourself that tomorrow will be a new day and a fresh start. And then just go to sleep.
3. Slow Down Your Pace
Another good evening ritual you can adopt is to slow down your pace. For instance, you can practice meditation. A lot of successful people including the comedian and talk show host, Ellen Degeneres, actress Jennifer Aniston, and the billionaire media mogul Oprah Winfrey, practice meditation in the evening before they end their day.
Do a search on Google and you will discover that there are plenty of benefits one can get from meditation. Science has also shown that meditation is a great way to help reduce stress, pain, anxiety, and also depression.
Another good technique to slow down your pace is to practice deep breathing. Just remember the 4-7-8 method. All you need to do is to inhale through your nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and then exhale completely through your mouth for 8 seconds. Repeat this about 5 to 10 times to lower your heart rate blood pressure. You will feel more relaxed after doing it.
You have to allow your mind and body to relax and to wind down rather than collapse on your bed straight.
Imagine you are playing an exciting computer game before you sleep, your awareness heightens, you feel tense and excited, your heart rate is faster and your blood pressure is higher than usual. More importantly, you do not want to stop because the game is good.
And finally, you stop the temptation and get to bed. Can you fall asleep with ease? Not at all, your mind will keep thinking because you are in a higher energy state. It will be difficult for you to fall asleep and even if you do, don’t forget that your subconscious mind doesn’t sleep. Your subconscious mind will affect the quality of your sleep.
This is why winding down is important. Gradually slow down your pace in the evening to enjoy a better sleep at night.
4. Prepare for the Next Day
Planning is an important part of being productive and living a successful life. And one of the best moments to plan is the night before. Kenneth Chenault, the CEO of American Express, says that he writes down three things that he wants to accomplish the next day every night before he sleeps.
When you write down what you need to get done tomorrow, you are subconsciously telling yourself to let go of your concern and anxiety, and you will take care of things the following day. This simple act of writing down your to-do list will make you calm and more rational.
In his book, Eat That Frog, best-selling author Brian Tracy said that planning creates clarity. And when you are crystal clear with what you need to get done, you will be able to tackle those task the first thing in the morning, without having to spend time thinking about what to do anymore.
Furthermore, when you have a plan and you know what to do, you will be more proactive rather than being reactive and wait for things to come to you.
I do agree that none of us can predict the future and sometimes things will just go out of what we have planned, but I do believe that having a plan is much better than having no plan at all.
Therefore, schedule your planning time and make it one of your evening ritual for success.
5. Do Some Reading
Reading can be a great way to relax your mind and at the same time, you can learn something new from the books you digest. Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft and one of the richest men in the world is known for his avid reading habit. He said that he would spend an hour reading each night before sleeping.
If you study the biography of highly successful people, you will find that these people are voracious readers and they spend their free time reading and learning at their best. Elon Musk was once asked by a reporter about how he managed to learn to build rockets, and his answer? “I read books,” answered Elon. The billionaire investor, Warren Buffett said in an interview that he spends about 5 to 6 hours a day into reading different newspapers and books.
While most people spend their time checking updates on Facebook, the CEO, Mark Zuckerberg read a book each week in 2015. After that experience, he said, “Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today. I’m looking forward to shifting more of my media diet towards reading books.”
Robin Sharma, the famous author of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, and one of my favorite success gurus, has a famous quote on reading:
“Ordinary people have big TVs. Extraordinary people have big libraries.” – Robin Sharma
Make it a habit to read. For me, reading is not part of my evening ritual, but it is part of my morning ritual. I spend about 30 minutes every morning to read books. And sometimes when I’m available, I’ll read at night before I sleep too.
You don’t have to spend an hour into reading if you feel that you don’t have the time. A short 15 minutes or 30 minutes will do the work.
6. Spend Time with Your Loved Ones
The majority will spend time with their family at home after working. This is the best time to nurture the relationships between you and your loved ones. It can be your partner, your parents, your children or even your pet dog. Spend some time to grow these relationships because success starts from home.
Laura Vanderkam, the author of What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, which is also a great time management book I strongly suggest you read, says that spending quality time with people you care and love is a common practice among the highly successful.
She also said, “I realize not everyone can go to bed at the same time as his or her partner, but if you can, it’s a great way to connect and talk about your days.”
You have to understand that a happy relationship, whether it is a marriage or a family, is extremely crucial to one’s well-being.
For example, when you are in a happy marriage and your wife supports you, you will perform and deliver a much better work. Although the way every family spends their time is different, the more you spend time together, the better chance you have of sharing quality experiences together.
So it doesn’t really matter what you do as long as you do it together with the people you care and love.
When you have dinner, talk about what happened in the day, sharing joys, and doing the household chores together with your family, you are sharing experiences together with them. And this will build a stronger and more intimate bond with each other.
Hence, value your time and spend some quality time with the people you love each night before you sleep.
7. Get Some Light Exercises
Joel Gascoigne, the co-founder and CEO of Buffer said in his blog that he would take a 20-minutes walk almost every evening before he goes to bed. He also said that it is a great wind down period and allows him to evaluate his day’s work.
When you are tired, you will be able to sleep with ease and sleep better. A study from the National Sleep Foundation found that exercise at any time of day appears to be good for sleep. The report stated, “Those who report exercising close to bedtime and earlier in the day do not demonstrate a difference in self-reported sleep quality.”
When it comes to exercise in the evening, experts suggested light exercise and not the heavy ones like running a full marathon. Taking a walk in the garden or down the street like Joel Gascoigne is a good choice.
Walking is actually good for your physical and mental health. A study from Stanford University revealed that walking improves your creative inspiration. The study showed that an expected 60% increased in a person’s creative output can be achieved through walking. Steve Jobs was famous for his walking meeting. And Mark Zuckerberg has also been seen holding meetings on foot.
Don’t go for exercise that will make you sweat and pant excessively before bed, it will increase your heart and blood pressure, makes you hard to fall asleep. And one more thing, remember not to sacrifice your sleep for exercise.
Instead, focus on low-intensity exercises such as walking, stretching that you can do in your bed and restorative yoga that will relax you. Apart from many of the health benefits, light exercise before bed able to boost your metabolism and burn your excess fat.
Exercise is not one of my rituals before bed. I don’t do it every day, but I did do it regularly. I found that it is more convenient for me to do some stretching on my bed, and then I can fall back and sleep. Please understand that I’m not into doing heavy stretching until I sweat.
Now that you have learned the 7 best evening rituals for success that you can practice from tonight onwards. You do not need to adopt all these 7 routines at the same time. Choose the one that is most appealing to you and then make it part of your ritual.
Once you have got used to it, adopt a new one again. You can change or let go those habits that do not serve your purpose.
There are more evening rituals than you can find here, but I believe that these 7 are a great start and they are the most common. So practice these evening rituals, sleep better, be more productive and live more successfully.