Do you toss and turn at night with your mind buzzing over the things that you need to do tomorrow? Do you wake up each morning with a clear plan for the day? Do you get to lunchtime and feel that you have not achieved much having spent the morning jumping from task to task?
In the hyper-connected business environment that we operate in it may not be unusual to get to the end of the day feeling frazzled. Perhaps you feel that you are on a treadmill that never lets up and you race out of the office with a multitude of unfinished tasks at the end of the day. It may be to get to that last appointment or a work dinner or maybe a distracted evening with your family.
My life used to be something like that until I invested in creating an end of day routine which soon became a ritual. It had a massive impact on my productivity and most importantly my well-being. The key is that each morning I’m absolutely clear on what I am committed to working on first up at the most productive time of the day. Almost without fail, I find that if I get off to a great start the rest of the day follows suit. Below I have shared some of the tips that work for me.
6 Tips for Creating an Evening Routine and Turning it Into a Ritual
1. Set a clear cut-off time
Identify the time that you will leave the office or step out of the home office or stop working in a cafe. It may vary from day to day and indeed from week to week but the key is to make a commitment to yourself each day with regard to the time that that you will stop working. It’s non-negotiable except in extreme circumstances. Rest assured there will ALWAYS be something left on your to-do list.
2. Review the day
This may be last thing before you leave the office or after dinner. I prefer to do it after dinner and putting my son to bed. I spend some time writing in a journal where, amongst others, I address two key questions. Firstly, what three things made today great and secondly, what would have made it better? There are usually a mix of personal and business items. The first question is designed to practice gratitude as much as highlighting wins.
I also spend time writing a list of tasks that didn’t get done and key priorities for the next day.
3. Create a plan for the next day
I take my key priorities and tasks and turn them into a plan for the next day – usually just timings and items jotted on an A4 sheet of paper that I leave in the middle of my desk or maybe entered into outlook.
The key is that the minute I walk into my home office, usually at 5am each morning, I’m absolutely clear what I’m going to start working on and can get straight into it at is what the most productive part of the day.
4. Get outdoors and connect with loved ones
For me spending some time with my family, usually outdoors or doing some exercise is the best way to unwind. Pick what works best for you and ensure that you allocate some time to do it. Try your best to be fully present and not distracted by work thoughts or devices.
5. Disconnect from devices
I believe this is crucial. Leaving my phone behind whilst I’m enjoying point 4 above and not using my phone or other device for an hour before I go to bed. I’m certain that it has had a huge impact on calming my mind and improving my quality of sleep.
6. Prepare to sleep
Aside from disconnecting, try to work out what works best for you in that hour before bed that will help you to fall asleep quickly. For me its reading a book, turning down the lights and maybe having a warm drink (no caffeine). Be conscious of your sleeping environment. Cool temperature, comfortable bed and pillow and as dark as possible, ideally pitch black.
I have no doubt that having a clear and structured evening ritual combined with an equally strong morning ritual has had a massive positive impact on both my business and personal life. It requires commitment and ongoing refinement but the rewards are huge and I would encourage anyone to give it a try.