3 Steps To Setting Up A Successful Evening Routine

 Image: GettyImages/Jodi Jacobson

Image: GettyImages/Jodi Jacobson

If you go to bed late and the house is a mess, the dishes are piled in the sink, you’re way behind on laundry, you don’t have food for breakfast or lunches the next day, and you don’t even know what appointments or events are scheduled for the next day, no wonder you wake up feeling frazzled, stressed, and behind!

If, on the other hand, you go to bed at a decent hour, your house is picked up, you have clothes laid out to wear, breakfast is in the slow cooker, lunches are made, and backpacks and your purse and keys are by the door, you’ve given yourself a huge head start on a successful morning.

Instead of trying to get up at some too-early hour and cram in a crazy amount of things in the morning, focus on changing your before-bed routine first. You might find that this is the thing that transforms your morning much more than getting up early does.

In fact, if you prep well ahead of time in the evening, you just might be able to sleep in a little bit more in the mornings. (I bet all of you non-morning people just let out a collective shout of “Yes!”)

1. Determine Your Bedtime

What time do you need to get up in the morning by in order to be out the door in time or start your day off on the right foot? Write that time down and then count backwards by 8-9 hours. Whatever time you land on is your new bedtime.

This is the time that you must be in your PJs, have everything finished for the night, and be in bed. No ifs, ands, or buts. I’m your new drill sergeant and you must do what I say, okay?

Sticking with a consistent bedtime just might be your number one key to morning success. When you’re well rested, you have more energy, more clarity, and more productivity. Not to mention that you usually are less stressed, less irritable, and life just looks a lot rosier when your sleep tank is full.

2. Pick Your Top 5 Evening Must-Do’s

Once you have your bedtime determined, then it’s time to determine the five things that you are committing to do every evening before bed. I know you might want to come up with a list of 25 things that seem like they’d really be good to do, but let’s keep it simple and just pick the top five must-do’s.

You can make a list of 25 ideas, but promise me you’re going to whittle it down to just the top five for starters. Keep it simple and you’re most apt to actually stick with it and follow through with it. I’ve learned that one the hard way!

Possible Evening Must-Do’s

• Clothes Laid Out for the Morning

• Kitchen Cleaned Up

• Lunches Made For the Next Day

• Breakfast In the Slow Cooker (Or cereal out and cereal bowls and spoons set out on the table.)

• To-Do List Made for the Next Day

• Quick 15-Minute House Clean-Up

• Everything Together and Set By the Door That You Need For Getting Out of the House the Next Day

Once you have figured out your Top 5 Must-Do’s, write them down on a piece of paper and put them in a conspicuous place. You could even print them off in a cute font, laminate or stick them in a page protector, put this on your fridge, and then use a dry erase marker to mark each item off as you accomplish it each evening.

3. Plan Your Start Time and Stick With It

Think realistically how long it’s going to take for you to accomplish your Top 5 Must-Do’s and then work backwards from your bedtime to figure out your Evening Routine start time. In most cases, your start time is going to be at least an hour before your bedtime. I’d add in some extra time, just to be on a safe side and to give yourself a cushion in case something comes up.

Write this start time down on your Top 5 Must-Do’s List, set a timer or an alarm to go off to remind you when you’re supposed to start, and just do it. Stick with this for three weeks and I promise you’ll start to see some significant improvement in your mornings — and in your days as a whole.

At the end of three weeks, you can tweak your evening routine and even add a few more things, if you’re sure you’re up to it. If you miss a few days or have a few hiccups along the way, don’t be discouraged, just pick back up where you left off the next day. And remember, moving forward — even at a microscopic rate — is still moving forward!