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For a very long time, I believed I didn’t have any routines. That’s crazy, I know! I’m not sure why it never occurred to me that you don’t need to create routines intentionally to have them incorporated into your day.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, routine is a usual or fixed way of doing things. That means that any activities you repeat every day are a routine. I was stunned once I realised that.
I truly believed that in order to have a routine, you need to specifically create it!
For months, I tried to create a good evening routine. One that would support me in the current season of my life and allow me to get a full night of sleep and recharge properly. For days, I searched for a routine that would fit me best. I’m not joking. I’ve found so many blog posts, YouTube videos, and reels with examples of a perfect routine. And you know what?
I tried most of them.
Nothing felt good.
So I gave up.
What’s the point of forcing myself to implement new routines that don’t support me and feel like a burden instead?
Playing Valorant or League of Legends in the evening felt much better than doing any of the evening routines I found. At least I didn’t feel like I pretend to be someone else. But once we moved house, we lost the ability to play in the evenings. Or play at all, I’d say, since we don’t have our broadband connected.
Yup, over 3 months in and we still don’t have a stable Internet connection.*
No, I’m not joking.
*Actually, they finally installed it a week or so ago. After 3.5 months. Woohoo!
I had to look for another way of spending evenings since going to bed before midnight feels way too early to me. I was still taking a “break” from blogging, so I didn’t work on it at all. My free time was now filled with Netflix, books, and a jigsaw puzzle.
Moving house and changing environment helped me shift my focus. Getting burned out influenced my actions, too. I’ve never noticed how badly my unhealthy routines made me feel. I was anxious and overwhelmed because I’ve never been able to finish my to-do list and open loops started to piling up.
I was overtired from trying to write and edit every time I had 5 minutes for myself. I believed that in order to become successful; I needed to spend as much time working as possible. So that’s what I did. It made me unproductive and anxious instead of successful.
I started looking into myself and ask what I need in order to be the best version of myself. Are my actions leading to improving any area of my life? Is this the way I want to spend the next couple of months? Will I regret doing x or y instead of being productive?
Because yes, I believe that a good evening routine is productive. It makes you a healthier, better version of yourself so that you’ll be full of energy on the next day.
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7 evening routine ideas that will make your night even better
Skin care routine
This is usually the very first step in my evening routine. By washing my face first thing in the evening, I’m making sure that I won’t forget it and I won’t have too many excuses for not doing it. If I tried to do that as the last thing before going to bed, I bet I wouldn’t do it at all.
Ditch your electronic devices an hour before going to bed…
… or even earlier. Despite what you think, neither watching Netflix nor scrolling through Instagram doesn’t help you relax.
I caught myself thinking that many times.
Recently, it became more and more draining to watch all the stories and read posts created by people I follow. I don’t enjoy it as much as I used to, probably thanks to the fact that now I have more motivation to create. Consuming someone else’s content isn’t high on my list of priorities right now.
Apart from social media making you feel worse, the amount of blue light emitted from your device makes your brain think it’s daytime. It’ll do everything it can to stay awake, so if you play with your phone a minute before going to bed, you might not be able to fall asleep easily.
If you want to try something new, what about drawing, colouring, or assembling a jigsaw puzzle? All those activities can be great for calming your brain and relaxing. And, they don’t require any electronics to do them!
Evening pages (or any other journaling practice)
Have you ever heard about Morning Pages? It’s stream of consciousness writing until you fill up three pages in your notebook. You’re supposed to do that first thing in the morning, just after waking up, in order to declutter your mind and prepare yourself for the day.
What if you’re not a morning person, though? Or your mind is completely empty when you wake up?
I spent days thinking about it and finally decided to pursue something similar to Morning Pages, which I called Evening Pages. I thought I’m being clever but once I checked in Google; it turned out that I’m not the first person who came up with that idea.
From what I’ve seen, everyone has a different approach to writing Evening Pages. All I do is just write. I take my iPad, open Goodnotes, and write until I fill three pages. If I don’t know what to write, I write exactly that. That I do not know what I’m supposed to say. That today is x day of me trying to fill three pages and it looks like it’s working, so I keep going.
It doesn’t matter what you write, as long as you do that.
Sometimes I come up with a blog post idea. Another time I realised I don’t want to pursue a goal I set for myself. The more you write, the more things you uncover and you get more inspired.
Writing before going to bed helps me clear my mind and allows me to fall asleep easily. Since I started doing that, there wasn’t even one night when I would lie for hours trying to fall asleep. My mind stopped running constantly and trying to come up with solutions or new ideas since I got everything out during my journaling session.
And because it’s unrestricted by any prompts, guides, or anything else, Evening Pages seem like a journaling practice that might stick with me for longer than just a couple of weeks.
Create a to-do list for the next day
I said many times that for me, the best time for creating a to-do list for the day is in the evening before. This way, I limit the amount of decisions I need to make in the morning, and I always know what I need to focus on during the day.
Usually, Evening Pages help me come up with all the tasks that I need to write down, but looking at my monthly and yearly goals is very helpful too.
I have to admit; I don’t always meditate before going to bed. But once I do that, I feel so relaxed and sleepy that falling asleep isn’t a problem at all!
You can either use an app or find YouTube videos with guided meditation. If you’re comfortable meditating on your own, simply sit down in a cosy environment, close your eyes, and focus your attention on your breath. Every time you notice your mind wandering, let go of any thoughts and simply refocus your attention without judging yourself. Start with a few minutes, and once you felt comfortable, increase that time.
My favourite meditation is the Immersive series in the Balance app. It makes me centered and relaxed in less than 5 minutes.
Read a book
You don’t have to read for hours – even 15 minutes is better that nothing. I like to choose fantasy books in the evening to help me unwind and relax. I’ve noticed that personal development books do the complete opposite, so I try to steer away from them at nighttime. It’s not a set rule, though.
Prepare for morning
This is something I struggle with, but every time I do that, I feel so good about myself. Set a timer for 15-20 minutes and prepare for morning: clean the kitchen, make yourself a healthy breakfast or lunch, pack your bag. Do whatever you need to do to make your morning easier.
How nice is it to wake up, enter the kitchen, and have no piles of dirty dishes lying around? It makes a tremendous difference and sets a better tone for the day.
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Final words on evening routine ideas you need to try today
Everyone has different evening routine ideas, so whatever works for me doesn’t have to work for you. I believe that all parts of my routine I shared with you today are worth looking into. Sometimes all you need to do is to make a slight change to make it suit better for you.
Since I started journaling and limiting the time spent with electronic devices I use before going to bed, I sleep better and I’m more relaxed. I’m still experimenting with different activities, but all these 7 evening routine ideas make my nighttime so much better.
I hope they’ll inspire you to look for ideas that will help transform your evenings so that you can be the best version of yourself.
PS. I know I said about ditching electronics an hour before going to bed and then went to talk about journaling on my iPad. The thing is, that I can’t convince myself to journal on paper, hence it is what it is. I prefer to sacrifice a bit of time to write digitally and clear my mind than do nothing just for the sake of limiting blue light to a minimum. I don’t think it would be more beneficial than journaling!