Morning routines are a popular strategy for people looking to squeeze more out of their day in pursuit of their goals. I’ve written in the past about the success I’ve had with being more selfish in the morning, using that time to engage in healthy habits and work on personal achievements.
But no matter who you are, time is always a hot commodity. This goes two-fold if you are living a “normal” life, as you are actively working towards a personal goal. Those committed to consistently focusing and reflecting on where they spend their time generally accomplish more during the time they are at work.
This is where incorporating a night-time ritual into your routine can bolster your ability to reach your goals. Done correctly, a night-time ritual is about a 15-minute routine done about 30 minutes before you go to bed, that involves three key things for setting you up for success: reflection, planning, and putting out fires.
The Night-time Ritual: 3 Keys for Setting Yourself Up for Success
Treat your night-time ritual as if you are turning a page in the book of your life. A powerful way to transition from one day to the next, it’s a combination of self-auditing, preparation, and taking action towards your goals with intentionality and clarified focus.
Whereas the morning is a good time to get things done, the evening is the best time of the day to shed light on what has been accomplished. Many high performers struggle to ever feel good about the amount of work they’ve put in on a project because they rarely take a moment to quantify their efforts. If you are someone that regularly experiences burnout, an evening routine might be a powerful solution for you.
Consider all that you did that day. Was the action you took aligned with your goals? If not, what happened in your day that might have caused you to fall short?
You might consider using a journal, a checklist, or a blog for this portion of your routine. An extrinsic reward of some sort over a predetermined amount of time might also motivate you to reach milestones.
I’d recommend making the reflection part, along with the rest of your night-time ritual, rather brief and easy to manage. A stark difference between your night-time ritual and a morning routine is that you are likely lower on energy and willpower than first thing in the morning. Making this ritual into a chore won’t help anyone, so agree to do something that’s rather simple but still effective for you and your goals.
Now that you’ve evaluated the day behind you, it’s time to turn ahead to the next day.
Consider all of the things that need to happen tomorrow and that you need to account for as you work towards your goals. Make sure you are realistic, and allow for some error when you first start. One-to-three key actions are likely all you need each day to move closer to your objectives.
You can keep this step simple by making a habit out of using a daily calendar or planner. It might help you to “gray” off your working hours, so that you know the hours in which you have left to play around with.
The value of planning is straightforward. If your goal is to lose weight, and you go into each day with no idea when you’ll go to the gym (or what you’ll do once you get there), you’re setting yourself up to fail. The same thing applies to your business, family, or work commitments. Quantify your actions and plan them accordingly.
Putting out fires
The final component to your night-time ritual applies to both the day behind and the day ahead of you. Life has a funny way of putting minor bumps in the road to your goals. Embrace that, and you’ll be less likely to be derailed by the speed bumps of life when they come along.
“Putting out fires” from your day means either providing closure to something that happened or anticipating (and acting on) something that will happen tomorrow.
First, what haven’t you finished today that will creep into tomorrow? Is there a client email you can respond to tonight that, left unfinished, will nag at you tomorrow morning until it’s done? If peace of mind is something sorely lacking, take a few minutes to wash your hands of today’s workload. You will find quickly that one of the major benefits to a night-time ritual is the shift in mindset that comes from taking care of your business each night.
Second, what conflicts might arise tomorrow that can be avoided if you plan ahead? Is there something you could do tonight to ensure that it won’t be an issue tomorrow? If your daughter’s soccer game means there is no way you’ll get to the gym in the afternoon, and that you have to bump a meeting in the morning to get there, change it. Pencil in your commitments where they make sense, and if something doesn’t, fix it.
You might find yourself doing something like sending emails, text messages, notes, or setting reminders on your phone.
Those inclined to get more done during their evening routine might consider an extra 15-minutes of reading as the final step in their night time ritual. Though I wouldn’t recommend turning your evening routine into a productivity-driven work slot, an activity like reading will increase your intellectual capital, and possibly move you closer to your goals.
The night-time ritual is simply another strategy that can be utilized to achieve your goals. Like anything, results will come when you consistently put in effort. Do all that you can to refrain from strategy shopping, meaning that you constantly scour the Internet for the next best solution to your problems.
Instead, commit to a night-time ritual that makes sense for you and your goals, and use it for 2-3 weeks before you begin changing it. See what happens and have some fun with it — after all, they’re your goals!
The combination of an action-packed morning routine with a brief but intentional night-time ritual will put you on a good path towards the outcomes you’re seeking.