If you google “morning routine” you’ll receive more than 24 million search results and that might be with good reason: early risers seem to get more things done and live more fulfilled lives. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs understand the benefits of having an early-morning routine: Starbucks’ Howard Schultz, GE’s Jeff Immelt, and Xerox’s Ursula Burns are just some of the early birds famous for rising before 6am to get ahead on their work.
But a morning routine is only half of a productive day; the other is the evening routine that precedes it. As an entrepreneur, you are not only required to work hard, but also to work smart, which is why you need your share of a good night’s sleep. After all, it turns out that if you look after your evenings, your mornings almost take care of themselves. To make this happen and to save your precious time in the morning, we concluded a list based on the habits of people far more experienced and successful than us, so that anyone could find their potential “thing”.
Arrange your mind
Most of us, before we let the day behind go, examine our finished and unfinished tasks, creating mental notes about the matters we’re going to deal with tomorrow. This however, could be taken a few steps further, depending on how clean-cut you want your day to be. You can write down your to-do list before you go to sleep, so that you’re ready for action as soon as your alarm goes off; or you can focus on the past day and keep a journal with your thoughts, observations, ideas and all the things that you’ve learned that day. Keeping a journal is a practice that can help you process the day and make sense of your thoughts, but don’t make this a boring, unthoughtful experience. Think of it as a nightly meditation – just two minutes of reflection thinking about the day’s highlights and writing them down will transform not just your sleeping, but also your first waking thoughts.
Prepare for the day that’s coming
Preparation doesn’t have to be only mental – you can also choose the clothes you will wear for the next day, prepare some food, pack your bag with all the necessities, etc. This is especially useful for so-called “night owls”, since the morning isn’t their favorite part of the day and it can be more time-consuming to think about these automatic actions in the morning than in the evening. Plus, the risk of forgetting something important is significantly less.
Unless you live in a city where getting from home to work takes an hour or more, chances are that evenings are the only part of the day you’ll get the time to do it. A good read, regardless of what you consider by that, is extremely important – one study by the University of Sussex found that just six minutes of reading a day is enough to reduce stress by 68%. Whether it is a fiction novel, a biography, classic literature, or an industry magazine, it will keep your mind sharp while at the same time ease your thoughts and soothe you to sleep.
Relax and plug off
Each of us has a different idea of what evening relaxation means – for some it’s yoga and/or meditation, for others a long bath and “me-time”; some like long walks outdoors, others cuddling with family or a pet – the list could be endless and can include any way of disconnecting and taking care of yourself. Afterwards, when you’ve finally entered your bed, it’s very important to turn off all your devices, so that your eyes can take a rest from the blue light and help your brain prepare to enter its sleeping mode. Considering the amount of everyday stress and tension in entrepreneur’s lives, it is necessary to have some time alone, not just physically, but also mentally – to isolate from all the buzz, turn all the screens/notifications off and stay alone with one’s thoughts. It’s not easy in the beginning, since many people feel as if they’re wasting their time, but keep in mind that it’s not only quantity that counts; it’s quality, too. Your mind and your body will be grateful.
Although the internet today is cluttered with texts about “successful people’s routines” and similar life coaching, we would like to point out that the purpose of this is not to transform yourself into a perfect robot-like humanoid. It’s extremely important for all of us to realize that we’re only given a limited amount of time during our lives and that routines, if practiced gradually and with understanding of your own self, are the best way to utilize as much of our energy as possible.