Some time ago I wrote about the power of morning rituals, and how they set you up for success. Evening rituals can be just as powerful to end your day. They add a sense of completion, build confidence, and set you up for the next day.
If you think about it, your evening rituals can have a significant impact on how your next day goes. A good evening can translate into a good morning. Unfortunately, a bad evening often leads to a not-so-good next day.
I think of rituals as mindful practices that you make that can be come habits. I have evening habits, or rituals, that make a difference. And, when I feel off one day, I can often trace the cause to the previous evening.
Here are some rituals to consider.
Review your day.
Take time to look back on the day and see what worked for you. At the end of his day, Benjamin Franklin asked himself “What good have I done today?” It was a follow up to his morning question of “What good shall I do this day?”
Consider what you learned. It’s not always something specific to a task, like a new way to use the software you just purchased or a shortcut to one of your art techniques. It could also be something that you learned about yourself. Maybe you learned that something specific frustrates and you need to find a solution. Maybe you realized that you need to practice “good enough is good enough” more often.
Look at what you are grateful for. This applies to both your work and your life. Gratitude is so powerful.
Look at tomorrow
Now that you’ve reviewed how well your day went and what you are grateful for, look at what is on the agenda for tomorrow. Then write down what you want to accomplish. This should just be two or three things.
One of the goals for planning for tomorrow today is that you do end the day with a clear mind. For many people clearing the mind of what is left to do is the key to a good night’s sleep. Once you’ve moved the item from your brain to a “to do” list, your brain is free to relax. You aren’t taxing it trying to remember. I’ve also read that this lets the subconscious work on the problems while you are asleep.
I like to do this review and planning fairly close to the end of the “work day,” usually just before or after dinner. I find that if I put it off until much later, I get keyed up and want to get back to work.
You might even consider creating a checklist or system to be sure you do both the review and planning.
Unwind and relax
Find some way that lets you ease into your home environment. This could be something as simple as a nice family dinner, listening to some music, or attending a yoga class. Other ideas include taking time for your hobbies, playing with the family pets, taking a walk, taking a hot bath, journaling or reading a non-business book or novel. This should be pleasurable for you.
And, speaking of unwinding, watch the time where you are zoned out in front of the television. Studies have shown that over time too much television can affect both your analytical and creative thinking abilities.
You are likely so keyed into your computer all day that it’s really important that you unplug, particularly at bedtime. Research shows that the blue light from your phone causes problems for your sleep patterns. Your brain interprets this as the sun’s brightness and stops producing melatonin. This leads to poorer sleep as well as aging you faster.
You can try one of the numerous apps designed to filter the artificial light. These include i.flux for your IOS computer; RedShift; Sunset Screen; Twilight; Iris; and NightShift, which is built into your iPhone.
And, it’s not just the blue light from your phone that throws your body out of whack. It’s also the light from the television, the clock, and even the nightlight. Create a ritual where you don’t have these lights in the bedroom. Your body will thank you for it.
Get a good night’s sleep
Research shows that most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep for optimal health. Sleep deprivation is a real problem for many, and it can adversely affect your creativity. What if you are in that sleepy set? Here are some tips, other than those above.
Rule out that the sleepiness is not due to a medical issue or medications that you are taking.
Create and try to stick to a regular sleep schedule, particularly one that is geared to your circadian rhythm. Go to bed and get up at the same time, every day, even weekends. Over time, you’ll learn the right times for your body.
Regular exercise and healthy eating will also affect your sleep, so pay attention to both.
What are your evening rituals? Mine include the day’s review and setting tomorrow’s agenda, a family dinner, a walk with the dog, time away from the computer and a good night’s sleep.