How To Create An Evening Routine
You may have already seen me talk about how to create a morning routine. So we’re shifting focus to the opposite part of your day and looking at how to create an evening routine now.
Why Is An Evening Routine Important?
Your evening routine is going to set you up for rest, recovery, and a good night’s sleep, so you wake up feeling refreshed and energised.
That in turn is going to set you up to follow your morning routine. That in turn is going to set you up for success in your day.
A good morning routine helps create a good day, which helps follow through with a good evening routine.
A good evening routine sets you up for a good night, which in turn follows through to being able to stick to a good morning routine.
And the cycle continues.
My Evening Routine
I can’t speak from the experience of having a great evening routine. My work hours are all over the place, and something that is tricky for me is that I often do my best work between 8 PM and 9:30 PM.
But this is a rough plan of what my routine looks like:
- 7 PM: Dinner with the family, normally watching TV
- 7:30 PM: Conversation time with the family
- 8 – 9:30 PM: Back into work mode – this is often when I do my best work
- 9:30 PM (usually): Hard stop on work for the day
At this point, I will say that I don’t always stop at 9:30 PM. I love what I do and sometimes when I am in a good flow, and in the zone, it just makes sense to keep going.
So I usually aim for a 9:30 PM finish time, but it can go on until later.
Having said that, once I finish my work for the day, I do the following:
- 5 minutes of breathing and meditation to clear my head and get my mind out of work mode
- A bit of journaling – which I explain in more detail below
- Wash my face, brush my teeth, get ready for bed
- 30 minutes reading in bed
- Sleep in as much darkness as possible
How To Build Your Own Evening Routine
As I mentioned when I talked about the morning routine, no 2 people are alike. Different things and different combinations will work well for different people.
I just make suggestions here, and you make the decisions.
I have said before that I don’t really know how to meditate, and that remains true.
But I know how to sit in stillness for 5 minutes, and just focus on my breath.
And that is all I do. I set a 5-minute timer, and then just take a deep, counted breath.
Four counts inhale, four-count hold, four-count exhale, four-count hold.
I do this at the end of my workday, to put a mental divide between work time and downtime.
I never really understood the point of journaling but I started trying it and I began to really enjoy doing it. It’s hard to explain, but the way I do it, it gives me such a sense of fulfilment most days as I am getting ready for bed.
Some people may journal as if they were writing in a diary. Some may talk about their feelings and emotions.
I use a structure called my Daily 9. Each evening I will record the following:
- 3 things I’m grateful for, which remind me that there is always something going well in your life no matter what
- 3 wins or successes I had that day – no matter how small, to build my confidence
- 1 random fact that is just there to make me laugh
- 1 mindset thing I learned that day
- 1 thing I learned that is going to help me with work
It gives me a structure to follow, which means I always have writing prompts ready.
Ideally, read a paper book or on a Kindle, so you are free of distractions and it isn’t a bright light shining directly into your eyes.
For me, 30 minutes is enough and moves my mindset from needing to be active and lead my thoughts, to being a bit more passive and following someone else’s thoughts through the story I am reading. This in turn helps me relax.
Practice Some Self Care
There are A LOT of things that can come under the umbrella term “self-care”.
It could be something like treating yourself to food or drink you enjoy, it might be a little bit of stretching or a short yoga session, it might be something about washing your face, skincare, or anything that you feel boosts your well-being.
But try to give yourself this little bit of dedicated YOU time.
Leave Your Devices In Another Room
I stopped keeping my phone in the same room as I sleep in a while ago and it has made a big difference to both my morning and evening routines.
Fortunately, I am living with the most important people in my life so if they are home, then I know there is nothing I will need to be contacted about overnight so I feel comfortable doing this.
It may not work for you if you have friends or family that you want to or need to be available for.
Change Your Screen Tints
Your laptop, TV, phone, tablet, and other devices all emit what’s called blue light, which can simulate daylight for your eyes, making it harder for you to fall asleep and get a good night’s quality sleep.
I have seen a lot of recommendations for no screens anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours before bed, as the blue light interferes with your sleep pattern.
Because I do my best work at night, that isn’t really an option for me.
So instead, I use built-in apps to change my devices’ screen tints.
On my Macbook, I use the Flux app.
On my iPhone and iPad, I use Night Shift to change the tint or colour of the screen to warm yellow instead of bright white/blue.
I won’t write my to-do list for the next day in the evening, because that keeps my mind in work mode. What I’ll do is I’ll write that in the morning.
There are probably similar apps available for Android devices, but I can’t recommend any as I haven’t used any.
If you don’t want to change your device screen settings, you can also try blue light-blocking glasses instead, and they will also help block the blue light from messing with your eyes.
What Not To Do In Your Evening Routine
As with building your evening routine, no 2 people are alike. Some of these suggestions are things you may actually find helpful as a part of your routine. From my own experience, they have tended to be unhelpful or disruptive.
Most social media posts I have seen, say to avoid caffeine 8 hours before bed. I haven’t found sources for it, but it seems to be the timeframe that the fitness community has adopted for some reason.
I know if I have coffee right before bed, I will not sleep well.
But I have my last cup of coffee around 4 PM, so 5-6 hours before bed, and I will still regularly have Diet Coke in the evenings. So I don’t really stick well to this.
But I have noticed that when I stop having caffeine earlier in the day, my sleep quality does feel better. It could be 100% psychosomatic though – I haven’t ruled that out.
Writing A To-Do List
I have seen some suggestions to write tomorrow’s to-do list today. For me, that is the worst thing I can do. I definitely won’t be relaxing if I end my day by already starting to think about the major things I need to do the next day.
I leave this until I start the next day and it becomes part of my morning routine.
Social media and apps can become time vacuums, so it is wise to avoid spending too much time on these, especially near your bedtime.
Not only is the screen time probably not great, but it also can cut into your sleeping time.
I have found myself sucked into “the scroll” a few too many times. TikTok is especially bad for me for that.
I love sitting down and binge-watching Netflix, especially if it’s a comedy. Please don’t do that in the evening. because you can end up in that binge and that can go on and on and you just think, “Oh, just one more episode, just one more episode.”
And you’d be amazed how much difference 20, 30, 60 minutes can make to your sleep quality and how much that can affect your day and how much that can affect your week.
How To Build Your Own Evening Routine
Hopefully the above is helpful when looking at how to create an evening routine for yourself.
What it boils down to is that you want something that’s going to give you a good night’s sleep, and it’s going to set you up to wake up in the morning and feel – I hate using the term but basically wake up, feel “alive” and invigorated.
It sounds really cheesy, but that’s basically what you’re aiming for. You want to set up an evening routine that’s going to give you that sleep, that’s going to set up your morning routine, that’s going to set up your day.