Here’s the truth—your evening routine matters more than your morning routine.
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Maybe that sounds a little crazy when the productivity space spotlights morning routines as the not-so-obvious secret that will transform your life. But there’s no way you can pave the way for a smooth morning unless you prepare the night before.
In fact, my morning mood (and productivity level) change significantly based on whether or not I complete my evening ritual.
- When I wind down in an intentional way, I’m ready to tackle my to-do list soon after I wake up.
- When I don’t, I default to excessive screen time and stay up way too late.
The result is waking up just as exhausted as when I went to bed in the first place, along with zero motivation to work out, get ready for the day, or open up my computer to work. Plus, I’m downright cranky.
My mom tells me I was the baby who desperately needed enough sleep to function. My husband, Joseph, thinks I never grew out of it. 😆
Because an evening routine results in so many domino effects, it’s the first routine you should develop before you even think about building a morning routine.
Supporting your body as it winds down will not only help you get the best sleep ever, you’ll also recharge yourself for the next day. It’s a win-win!
Try to Avoid This Trap
If an evening routine feels like just another set of tasks on your to-do list, that’s a clear sign you need to switch things up. You should look forward to this part of your evening!
And you can’t do that if you are super strict about what time you do each part of your routine.
So instead of 8:45 this and 9:10 that, decide when you want to turn the lights out, then work backwards. Give yourself enough margin to do everything you want to do and choose a start time based on how much time you need.
For me, I want lights out no later than 10:30pm.
That means I need to give myself enough time to…
- Set up my next day’s to-do list
- Close out my Notion Daily Journal
- Complete all skincare steps (being in your mid-30’s is no joke)
- And carve out at least 30-45 minutes to read.
So I should start my routine around 9pm and push it back to 8:30 for the nights I take a shower.
See how that works?
You’re choosing an end time and start time, then working through an order of events in the middle. This eliminates the stress of feeling tied to the clock. You don’t need to worry about staying “on track”!
Ideas for Your Women’s Night Time Routine (What I Do!)
Here are my favorite before-bed habits that help me transition into a relaxing evening and set the right tone for tomorrow.
1. Create Your Next Day’s To-Do List
If you have a hard time shutting your brain down at night, don’t wait until morning to write down everything you need to do. Otherwise, your brain will officially enter it’s spin cycle and keep you from getting a good night’s sleep.
Just ask me how I know!
Instead, write out a list of 3-5 things you want to accomplish the next day and don’t even think about it until morning. If you have lots of ideas and tasks swirling around in your mind, do a brain dump, then organize those thoughts according to your top priorities.
I also like to have a small notebook and pen on my nightstand for things I think of later.
2. Tackle a Frustration Area
Are you frustrated when you wake up and see dishes in the sink? Or throw pillows on the living room floor? Or do you dread making breakfast in the morning and tend to skip it just to save your sanity?
For me, I can’t stand seeing a cluttered mess on the dining room table and kitchen island (which used to happen to me all the time before I implemented a 10-minute tidy, one of my non-negotiable daily habits).
It totally screws with my productivity and I’d rather climb straight back in bed!
Whatever it is you dread in the morning, do something to ease the friction the night before.
- Spend 10-15 minutes doing a quick pickup
- Set out bowls and oatmeal packets for breakfast
- If you have school-age kids, keep separate bins of food in the fridge and pantry (these acrylic ones are easy to clean!) so they can assemble their own lunches, thus limiting how much you have to do during the morning rush.
start your week with
THE MONDAY FILES
A Monday morning pick-me-up that eases you into your weekly goals + to-do’s.
It might not sound very relaxing to do housework before bed, but come morning, you’ll be a much happier person when you wake up!
3. Pamper Yourself
A skin-care routine can be incredibly relaxing and is helpful to “wash away” the stress of the current day. Be sure to include products you love, but don’t make your routine so long that it feels like a chore. Simplicity is key!
Here’s my current system:
- Use the Clean it Zero Cleansing Balm to get rid of any residual makeup.
- Wash face with the Cetaphil Gentle Foaming Cleanser. This is great for sensitive skin!
- Moisturize with the ROC Retinol Correxion Line Smoothing Eye Cream (I can’t live without this one!) and the Aveeno Night Cream.
Sometimes, I will also take a shower during this time so I don’t have to spend a TON of time blow-drying my thick hair in the morning.
4. Wind Down with a Relaxing Activity
A few months ago, I was frustrated with how much time I was spending on my phone before bed. So I committed to a 30-day “no phone after 9pm” challenge and picked up a book instead.
Guess how many books I read?
I flew through EIGHT books instead of my typical 3-4 per month. And I fell in LOVE with reading again after experiencing a big slump—due to my excessive phone use, I presume!
For my fellow bookworms, my top tip is to not read anything too mind-bending before bed. A light fictional story or memoir are both great options to help your brain and body relax. Hooked: How Crafting Saved My Life by Sutton Foster is one of my favorites!
If you’re not a bookworm, you can easily find an activity that has the same effect.
- Listen to a podcast or calming music
- Do some yoga or simple stretches
- Drink a cup of tea
- Take a warm shower
- Pray, read the Bible, or journal a few things you are thankful for
Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something you don’t dread and genuinely look forward to. That’s the best way you’ll successfully close out the day and ready your body for sleep.
5. Turn Off the Lights at a Decent Time
If you’re the type of person who can live on five hours of sleep, then by all means, skip this step. But for me, I need to turn out the lights no later than 10:30pm so I can make sure I’m getting enough rest.
Otherwise, I turn into that cranky mess I mentioned earlier!
I know how tempting it is to finish a good book (Frieda McFadden is not the best author to read at night for this reason), or find excuses to scroll through endless Instagram photos, but your body will regret the lack of sleep come morning.
Make rest a priority, and your next day’s tasks won’t feel so monumental.
HEADS UP: If you regularly turn out the lights later than usual, this is a sign that you may need to start your evening routine earlier than you normally would!
Bonus Tip: Buy a Weighted Blanket
It probably sounds strange to lie there with a 12-15lb weight holding you down, but this invention WORKS.
I would describe a weighted blanket like a warm hug that settles in and around you, making you feel cozy and secure. Half the reason I’m able to fall asleep at night (and sleep well) is due to using a weighted blanket!
This is the exact blanket I have (and I was able to WASH IT without the blanket falling apart!)
You usually have to spot clean weighted blankets (in fact, the one I own said “spot clean” as well), but the blanket looks dingy from top to bottom so I threw it in the wash as an experiment on the delicate cycle. My blanket came out smelling (and looking) brand new!
The Best Weighted Blanket
Fall asleep faster and wake well-rested. This weighted blanket applies gentle, even, pressure across your body and helps calm and comfort people who have trouble sleeping, including those with conditions such as stress, anxiety, autism, ADHD, and PTSD.
Evening Planning: Don’t Expect Perfection
Whenever we implement a new routine, we have this overwhelming desire to do it perfectly until the end of time.
But that’s not real life.
View your evening routine as a flexible support structure. Routines, in general, should guide you toward a healthier and more mindful version of yourself… not as a rigid set of rules you should never break.
Your evening routine will change as your life seasons do. Hold your routine loosely and it will continue to serve you instead of the other way around.
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Habits + Routines
What is an essential part of your evening routine?
Let me know in the comments!
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