Do your mornings feel rushed and chaotic?
Do your days feel like they fly away with little to nothing to show for them?
Do you constantly feel like you’re running behind or playing “catch-up”?
Do you flop into bed long after you hoped to be sleeping?
If so, your best bet might be to focus on your evening routine, because…
Organized and productive days almost always start with intentional evening routines.
Think about it for a minute… if you have a rough night and stay out way too late, there’s very little chance you’ll be ready and rearing to go at a reasonable hour the next morning.
And if you sleep in longer than you’d like, or you’re extra groggy and tired in the morning, you’ll likely end up running behind and feeling rushed for the entire day… which will cause you to stay up too late, trying to cram a few more things into your day, and the whole thing starts over again.
It’s a vicious cycle — one that can be very difficult to break unless you start at the source of the issue (a.k.a. you must create a more intentional evening routine).
How to Create an Intentional Evening Routine:
1. Start with your sleep:
The first order of business is to figure out how much sleep you need on a daily basis.
Most studies recommend adults get 7-8 hours of sleep — and while this may sound impossible, you can likely make it happen (with a little intentionality and planning ahead!)
Let’s go with 7 hours per night for now.
2. Determine your wake-up time (and your bedtime).
On a normal day, when do you need/want to wake up?
My general rule of thumb is that any parent of younger kids should wake up at least 30 minutes before their kids so they have a chance to get up, get ready, and feel a little more “with it” before kids enter the picture!
However, your wake-up time will depend largely on your personal schedule, how long it takes you to get ready (or get your kids ready), what you want/need to accomplish in the morning, and what time you need/want to leave the house.
Let’s say you plan to wake up at 6 am to be out the door by 7:30.
Once you know what time you will realistically wake up, then it’s time to calculate your ideal bedtime.
Since you want to get 7 hours of sleep each night and you need to wake up at 6:00, that means you need to get to bed by 10:30 so you have a bit of time to unwind, read, or listen to music, before hopefully falling asleep around 11:00.
3. Create a bedtime routine:
Now that you know you need to be IN bed by 10:30, it’s time to create a bedtime routine that leads up to 10:30.
I realize this might sound childish, but I speak from experience that I sleep SO much better if I follow a general bedtime routine.
Here’s my routine:
- Bring the dog out and put him in his kennel (around 9:30)
- Turn off all the lights and turn the heat down a couple degrees.
- Take a hot shower and put a bunch of lotion on (this helps my restless legs).
- Tie up any “loose ends” of projects, emails, computer work, laundry 😉.
- Make a to-do list for tomorrow.
- Read in bed until we turn the lights off (usually by 10:30).
Of course, there are nights when we stay out later or have other commitments that require adjustments to this routine… but on a “normal” night, this is my evening routine.
Your routine might include watching a favorite show, working on a craft project, having a cup of tea or hot chocolate, texting with friends or family, calling a college-age child, sitting in a hot tub, going for a walk, etc.
It could be an hour-long routine or just 10 minutes.
There’s no right or wrong evening routine — the point is that you try to do the same things night after night and get to bed at a consistent time so you can then wake up at the appropriate time without feeling super tired.
4. Plan your morning hours.
You know that famous quote: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”? Well, that applies to your mornings too!
BEFORE you go to bed, make a plan for your morning hours.
- What will you wear? (Your kids should pick out their clothing too.)
- What will you have for breakfast?
- Do you have your coffee/tea/water ready to go?
- Are your bags/backpacks/lunches packed?
- What will you do first when you wake up?
- What time (if any) do you or your family members need to be out the door?
Having a plan allows you to hit the ground running in the morning (even if you still feel a little groggy).
It also helps me sleep better, knowing I’ve done a mini brain dump before bed and hopefully won’t forget anything the next morning!
5. Protect your evening hours.
As you go throughout your day, continue thinking and planning ahead to your upcoming evening routine.
If you want to wake up at 6, you need to get to bed by 10:30, which means you need to start your evening routine by 9:30, which means you actually need to be home before 9:30.
I know this sounds SO ridiculously obvious, but this is where we often drop the ball.
We get going with our day, we’re having fun, we stay out later than we planned, and then our evening is shot, we get to bed too late, and the vicious cycle of chaotic mornings and unproductive days starts up all over again.
Protect your evening hours as much as possible, and be home in time to start your bedtime routine and get to bed on time.
Of course, there are seasons of life when evening routines are more challenging than others (like if you have a newborn who’s not sleeping through the night yet or if you’re struggling with chronic pain or illness).
However, for the vast majority of us, it all comes down to how much we prioritize our evening routines and our sleep.
Even as a self-proclaimed “early bird”, I can confidently say that it’s much easier to stay up later than I planned than to wake up earlier than I planned.
So do yourself a favor and be intentional with your evening hours.
Don’t fritter them away by scrolling social media or watching Netflix. Don’t waste them doing something you don’t really enjoy doing.
Create an intentional evening routine, and I’m confident your mornings (and your entire day) will run more smoothly and be more enjoyable.
Do you have an evening routine?
If so, share it in the comments to inspire other readers!