Building an evening routine can take a morning routine to the next level. My evening routine is really where my morning routine begins.
- Save time in the morning by prepping things the night before
- Going to sleep at a regular time helps set a rhythm
- Mirrors an approach by restaurant chefs to prep everything before you start
Starting Late to Start Early
I wake up at 5 a.m. every day. Usually by an alarm, but I’m pretty hard-wired to wake up on my own anytime between 4:30 and 5:15 a.m. The early start allows me time to work out and/or focus on finishing a post for this site, catch up on some reading, or really just enjoy a quiet hour or so at home. I realized I was spending a decent amount of time just getting things out in the morning instead of actually doing something beyond preparation. I’ve previously written about how to build a morning routine.
To keep things a bit more efficient in the morning and have everything ready to go, I built up the habit of laying things out the night before. This took a little getting used to, but I was actually saving around 10 to 15 minutes in the morning. It might not seem like a lot, but that 15 minutes can add up throughout the week. Plus, I can actually use less energy at the start of the day and conserve that for later.
The goal is to begin your morning routine with an actual event that isn’t preparation for said event.
Culinary Inspiration for the Evening Routine
In the culinary world, the phrase “mise en place” encompasses this exact concept. “Mise en place” is french for “putting in place” or “setting up.” All the preparation for the dish you are cooking is done before you actually begin. This ensures the task of making the dish is as smooth as possible. You don’t have to shift gears and prep something while you are also trying to cook. Your focus remains on the most important part.
All the ingredients, seasonings, toppings, garnishes, sides, etc… it’s all ready before you even begin. Before a restaurant opens for a meal, the kitchen crew is prepping everything. Without this step, each order would need each ingredient prepared to order. That would slow things down to a crawl. By getting things ready ahead of time, they can put everything together and get it out to the customer quickly.
My Evening Routine
After I let the dog out, I’ll get everything ready for the next morning. This is usually a routine Sunday-Thursday evening. I’ll scale things down for Saturday and Sunday mornings. My usual workflow looks like:
- Fill electric kettle for morning tea
- Clean out tea infuser and place next to kettle
- Set out mug for tea next to infuser and kettle
- Set out glass for milk
- Find spoon for tea and spoon for yogurt
- If cereal instead of yogurt, set out bowl, spoon, and box of cereal
When I’m doing this, I will often get a chuckle from my wife as she shakes her head. I’ll freely admit she thinks I’m crazy for this. Writing it out does make it seem a bit strange, but I do find this to save time, get a quick start in the morning, and save a little energy.
In the next morning, once I let the dog out and feed her, or after I work out, I’ll start the tea kettle. I consider this step to be part of the prep. Then, I can take a shower and get dressed while the water is heating up. Sure, it doesn’t take that long, but it does save a little time. Then, once I’m dressed, all I need to do is grab whatever tea I want, add the hot water and off I go.
Don’t Forget Devices
I’ll even go a bit further with the evening preparation. If the battery is low, I will plug in the iPad, so it is also ready for the next day. This is of course in the charging station. When I go and grab it in the morning, it too is ready to go. If it does have enough battery life, I’ll leave it wherever I’ll need it in the morning: the couch, kitchen, or home office are common options. Maybe I’ve heard from my son one too many times “where’s the iPad” so I know right where it is for when I need it in the morning.
Getting Good Sleep
The final key part to this actually going to sleep at a good hour. Tracking your sleep can help you figure out when you should be going to bed, so you can get the correct amount of sleep your body needs. You don’t have to wake up at 5 a.m. Maybe 7:30 is better for you. Nothing wrong with that. If you go to bed at 2:30 a.m. and need to wake up five hours later, you might have a rough time.
Going to bed at a regular time will help your body adjust to both the correct time to go to bed, but also the correct time to wake up. You won’t feel as groggy and sluggish the next day.
For me, I’m wanting to be in bed and reading by 9:30 or 9:45 that evening. At times, it is a bit earlier than that, but I’ll read until my eyes are too heavy, and I’m giving up for the night.
Putting The Evening Routine Together
Between a good night’s sleep and a little prep in the evening, your mornings can really be an easy process. You are fully recharged and can use very little energy to execute quite a bit in the morning. Both factors will complement each other and allow for a good day ahead.
When I mentioned this to one of my brothers, he said, “that’s very Atomic Habits of you” — and he’s right. I mentioned James Clear’s book Atomic Habits before and this is certainly a takeaway. Do little things right to lead to bigger successes.
Getting things ready the night before takes out a lot of little bumps in the road to start the day.