After waking up early and working all day, I’m beat. There are some days when all I want to do when I waltz out of the office at the end of my day is get in my car, drive home, and collapse on my couch to escape into the world of my Netflix obsessions. Doing absolutely nothing when you get home from work until it’s time to go to bed? Sounds divine…in theory. The problem is, if we park ourselves in front of the TV and only get up when it’s time for bed, we haven’t done anything to prepare for the next day. Then when our alarm goes off at how-is-it-possibly-morning-again??? o’clock, we have to rush around figuring out what to wear, packing our lunch, turning on the coffee pot, and somehow making it out the door on time. We’re rushed and frazzled as we commute to work and that feeling only compounds throughout the day because we aren’t prepared for anything. That leads to feeling totally burned out when the clock strikes 5pm and it’s time to go home. Who wants a day like that? That’s why I created my own evening routine.
We’ve already helped you craft your morning routine, but an evening routine is just as important because it can set you up for a morning and an entire day of success. Let’s get started, shall we?
Step 1: Unpack
Perhaps this is a habit from elementary school that has never left me, but the first thing I do when I walk in the door from work is unpack my lunchbox, wash my Tupperware, and clean out my purse. I put my shoes away, hang up my coat (if I needed one that day), and change out of my work clothes so nothing gets wrinkled and I can see right away if anything needs to be washed or dry-cleaned. I also make sure my external battery for my phone is charged because if I can’t have my post-work commute podcast, it’s not going to be pretty.
Everyone’s day is different, however, so think about what you need to do right when you get home at the end of the day. Did you bring your breakfast/lunch to work? Unpack whichever bag you used and clean out any containers or travel mugs. Did you accumulate any receipts or knick knacks throughout the day? Clean them out of your purse and put them where they belong. In short, to kickstart your evening routine, make sure your work day is fully over before moving on to anything else.
Step 2: Decompress
I’m an introvert, so working 8+ hours a day in an open office is really exhausting and I’m quite overstimulated when I finally get home. This means that I need plenty of quiet time so I can recharge and be fully functional the next day. Usually when I get home, I’ll either read or watch a short episode of something light and comforting on Netflix with a small snack. Then, depending on the weather, I go for a walk or to the gym, and then spend the rest of the evening working on side projects or just relaxing. Within a few hours, I am recharged and ready to take on the next day.
Not everyone is an introvert, however, so everyone decompresses and recharges in a different way. Take some time and think about what you need to do (after you’ve unpacked, of course) at the end of your work day to relax and be ready for the following day. Do you need fresh air? Are you craving a hot bath, or quiet time with a good book or show? A gab fest with a friend? Whatever you need to unwind at the end of your day, make time for it.
Step 3: Pack
If you’re like me and mornings are not your thing, eliminating the amount of tasks you need to complete in the morning is essential because your brain isn’t fully awake until about 8:30 in the morning.
It may feel like you just unpacked, but it’s time to pack up again. If you’re bringing your breakfast, lunch or a snack to work, portion it out into a container so all you have to do is grab and go the next morning. If you bring a mug of tea or coffee to work, get out your travel mug and either set out your tea bags, or set the coffee pot for the next day. Make sure your wallet is in your purse along with anything else you’ll need, such as headphones, a planner, notebook, laptop, etc.
I also like planning out my outfit the night before (yet another habit from elementary school I just can’t shake, apparently). Because my brain is never fully functional early in the morning, my outfits are always best when I’ve planned them the night before. And let’s face it, a solid outfit can totally change your day. Eliminating the amount of tasks you need to complete in the morning through an evening routine can help you have a better morning because you’ll be less frazzled — all you need to do now is get dressed, throw your lunch in a bag, pour your coffee/tea, eat breakfast, and head out the door!
Step 4: Get to Bed!
No matter what your day is like or how you like to unwind at the end of the day, the most important part of your evening routine is getting plenty of sleep. This is something I’m still working on, admittedly, as it is far too easy to get sucked into a black hole of Netflix and stay up too late. I have to wake up at the same time every morning if I want to get to the gym and get to work on time, so I’ll count back from my wakeup time to determine when I should go to bed.
Some of my best days at work have been when I’ve gotten enough sleep the night before, so I highly recommend making sleep a priority. Determine how much sleep you need to feel completely awake and refreshed and then count back from your wakeup time. Do whatever you need to do to make sure you go to bed when you say you will, such as setting a timer on your phone. In addition to going to bed early, I love crawling into bed with a good book. Reading, unlike watching TV, helps our brains start to unwind and recognize it’s almost time to sleep. No matter what you want to read — a magazine, book, newspaper, etc. — make a little time to read when you go to bed.
An evening routine sets you up for a successful day, so use these tips to create one that will set you up for success the next day.