Being productive is important, whether it is your business, your job, or your personal life. Consistent productivity leads to success and achieving your goals. Keeping a morning and evening routine can help you reach your optimum productivity.
This is a very popular topic. If you search YouTube for a morning or evening routine, you’ll find countless videos. Their content will vary, and for good reason: we are all different, so you’ll need to find the best routine that works for you.
I have experimented with various routines and I have found what works for me. I’ll go over what I do and why. The goal is to get my body and mind in the best state to reach consistent, high productivity.
My Morning Routine
The key to every routine is consistency*1This study from SUNY Albany shows that a consistent routine helps to develop emotionally stable children: https://bit.ly/2Xir6WC. That means doing it every day at the same time, in the same way. I’ve been able to keep my morning routine for the last two months, which is longer than anything I’ve tried previously.
I begin by getting out of bed as soon as I wake up. I don’t reach for my phone, because I know that’s how I get sucked back into bed. Sometimes I’ve lain there for two hours before realizing what time it was. This is not conducive to a productive day. By getting up and out of bed at the time I intended, I’m already on my way to getting things done.
Here is the rest of my routine.
- Make my bed
- Personal care
- Eat breakfast and do my morning reflection in my Bullet Journal (BuJo for short)
While I eat breakfast, I use a small lightbox for light therapy for fifteen minutes. It is essential, especially in Michigan where we can go months without seeing the sun in the winter. I bought this one from Philips years ago, but it is no longer manufactured. I would recommend this one from Amazon as a good starter lamp: Light Therapy Lamp, Miroco LED Bright White Therapy Light. If you want to jump into a higher-end lamp that uses actual bulbs instead of LEDs, I would recommend this one: Nature Bright SunTouch Plus Light and Ion Therapy.
Time is precious in the morning, so you have to be careful not to add too much. Figure out your priorities and think about why you’re doing it. Each item on my routine is essential for my well-being and for setting up the rest of the day. For me this means waking up at 5:30 am so that I’m ready for my day after 7:30 am.
My Evening Routine
I’ll admit that I am more consistent with my morning routine than my evening routine. However, it is important to note that your evening routine sets you up for the next morning. They go hand-in-hand in ensuring your continued care for yourself.
With that in mind, here is what a successful evening routine is for me.
- Evening reflection in my BuJo (avoid electronics from here on)
- Personal care (always wash your face!)
- Set up oil diffuser with lavender
- Turn on some white noise
- Set alarm clocks (I use multiple)
- Put on sleep mask (optional)
- Breathing exercises while hopefully falling asleep
I work in retail with a shift schedule. Recently this means waking up at 2:45 am to get to work by 4 am. That means I have to go to bed at 7:30 pm the previous day to get at least 7 hours of sleep, which is my optimum. This is where having a solid evening routine helps me get my body in rhythm. The sleep mask was necessary for me to fall asleep since it is considerably brighter now in Michigan.
Why Have a Routine?
The human body and mind are very complex. We each have an internal clock inside, called the circadian rhythm*2Definition of circadian rhythm from the National Sleep Foundation: https://bit.ly/3cPQJVx. It keeps track of the relative time so that the correct hormones can be released at the right time. Melatonin is a hormone that is responsible for making you feel tired so that you can fall asleep. This worked fine before lightbulbs existed, where nature and our circadian rhythm had no issues syncing.
There is a lot that can disrupt our natural rhythm in this age of digital screens and constantly lit rooms. I’ve had periods in my student life when my day and night became completely reversed. I was a hermit during the day and emerged only to play video games at night. Now, we are all staring at our digital screens until the moment we fall asleep. This mostly blue light signals to our brain that it is still daylight, which makes it harder to get quality sleep.
Having a morning and evening routine ensures that your circadian rhythm has the least amount of disruption. Doctors now recommend that instead of having a set bedtime, having a constant wake up time is more important*3Article by Brandon Peters, MD: https://bit.ly/2X8Oh5G. Yes, this includes the weekends too. This means being more mindful of your body and how tired you are at the end of the day. You can plan for a set bedtime to maintain your sleep, but if you’re feeling exhausted and worn out, nothing is stopping you from going to bed earlier.
Waking at the same time every day will actually help you to sleep better at night.Brandon Peters, MD: Verywell Health
Why Choose These Steps?
There is a specific reason for every item on my routine. Here are a few of them.
- Make my bed: By completing this simple and mundane task, I’ve already completed a task for the day. Not only does it jumpstart your task list, but you will also always come back to a nice, clean bed when you go to sleep.
- Meditate: This is part of training for mindfulness. By taking 3 to 10 minutes of guided meditation, I’m able to get in touch with my current feelings, thoughts, and state of being. I start the day feeling completely refreshed after every session. I use the app Headspace, which I can’t recommend enough.
- Reflection in my Bullet Journal: This is a vital part of my day. My Bullet Journal has been my lifeline since I started using it two years ago. This lets me get thoughts out of my head so that I’m not wasting time throughout the day or staying up all night thinking about them.
Be Consistent and Flexible
As I mentioned, having a consistent routine is key to your health and productivity. At the same time, stressing out over a missed step or whole routine is counterproductive. Be kind to yourself. It’s ok if you miss a day or two.
In my case, my work hours changed dramatically to keep up with online orders from everyone staying at home. Instead of 8 am or later, I’m starting work at 4 am. Because of this, I knew it would be difficult to do my whole morning routine at 3 in the morning. Instead, I moved some things around to the evening and shortened the timing for everything else. Instead of meditating for 10 minutes, I meditate for 3 minutes, and so on.
Do you have any routines? How successful are you at maintaining it? Did you have to change anything from the COVID-19 pandemic? Leave a comment below.
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