I’ve thought about my morning routine through the years, but realized I haven’t necessarily paid equal attention to patterns I’ve developed in my nightly habits. Evenings are unpredictable with my daughter’s school commitments, extra-curricular activities and work schedules. It isn’t as easy or automatic to cultivate and stay consistent with nighttime rituals because time doesn’t always feel like it’s mine, but scattered in several different directions.
I don’t necessarily view this as a negative – there are certain core evening traditions I’ve always followed since my childhood. My family and I always had dinner together. When the clock hit 6:00 p.m. my mom or dad didn’t need to whisper a word. My sister and I knew it meant dinnertime. I follow this same tradition in our home. When work doesn’t interfere, we eat together as a family. My daughter sets the table and during dinner we converse with one another and hope our daughter will let us into her world (consequences of edging toward the tween years). After dinner, we spend time either reading, attending tennis practice, straightening up around the house or preparing for the next day. After we put our daughter to sleep, my husband and I might watch a movie downstairs or catch up on sports highlights.
In the last few months, I’ve focused on my nightly habits – the impetus centering on an article I found on Inc. titled, 9 Nighttime Routines of the Mega-Successful. The article recommends unplugging at night and I am notoriously bad at staying up late to write or working on last minute edits for a freelancing deadline. I have a difficult time saying no to screen time, but realize I need to build in space away from a bright screen. According to Harvard researchers cited in the article, glaring at the screen at night actually tricks your brain into thinking it is daytime.
Two other tips suggested: reading and prioritizing. My nightstand is stacked with books, but I don’t always read at night. In the past 4 months, I haven’t dedicated as much time to reading as I would like. I recognize this isn’t the best practice for my work or personal development. Also, the piece emphasizes prioritizing. Making a list the night before the next day is crucial for overall productivity. I keep a bullet journal, but am not always great at reviewing what I need to do for the following day, relying on my memory instead. This piece was a good reminder to check my list and decide what goals I want to concentrate on for the following day. One piece of wisdom I thought was helpful for creative development – stop in mid-sentence – which means end your writing or other artistic endeavor on a high note, so theoretically you have built-in momentum for the next day. I’ve heard this advice before, but haven’t effectively employed it.
The advice that held the most significance for me was asking this question inspired by Benjamin Franklin – “What good have I done today?” It is a reminder to think about what impact we have on others, whether they are family, friends or even strangers. If the answer is that we’ve complained most of the day, look at what isn’t, instead of what is, it is a sign to take a different approach for the days the ahead.
That last piece of advice is where II will start to change my nighttime routine.
Readers, I am curious what are your evening and nighttime habits?
Image: Evening by Susanne Nilsson via Flickr.