Have you ever wondered what makes highly productive people so productive? As you can imagine, it’s probably a mix of different factors. Some of these factors may be beyond your control; they may have a personality type or natural energy levels that simply make them higher performing than average.
But there are plenty of factors completely within your control that you can manipulate for your own benefit. For example, most productive people have a steady, repeatable nighttime routine that sets them up for success each morning.
What do these nighttime routines include, and how can you capitalize on them?
The best nighttime routines of productive people
These are some of the best nighttime routines to set you up for productivity in the morning:
1. Stop drinking caffeine and alcohol
Too many people rely on substances like caffeine (for a burst of energy) and alcohol (to relax or unwind) too heavily throughout the day. In small quantities, and when consumed responsibly, these substances can actually have a positive impact on your life. But if you consume them too close to bedtime, your sleep could be practically ruined.
2. Do something you love
Each night, make some time to do something you love—even if it’s just 15 minutes. This could mean playing a video game, playing a musical instrument, or just spending time relaxing with your family. No matter how busy you get, it’s important to carve out some time for yourself. When you do something relaxing and/or entertaining, you relieve stress and set yourself up for a more optimistic, peaceful morning.
3. Put away the digital screens
Most of us spend our evenings staring at digital screens, whether it’s watching a TV show or reviewing emails on our smartphones. At least a few hours before you go to bed, do what many productive people do and put the digital screens away. The bright blue light emitted by most digital devices can interfere with your ability to sleep. On top of that, if you’re using digital screens to work, it can end up stressing you out.
4. Read a physical book
Many people find reading a book to be relaxing, and conducive to a good night’s sleep. And if you’re reading about a topic that’s important for your career, it can end up educating you or even help you create a thought leadership plan. Keep a handful of interesting books by your bedside or near your couch, so it’s easy to pick up something and start reading whenever the mood strikes you.
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5. Set priorities and/or tasks
If any of your day work ends up spilling into your evening hours, you should spend some time setting priorities or making task lists. Your mornings will be much more focused and productive if you “hit the ground running” with a rigid set of goals. Write down a list of everything you’re hoping to accomplish, preferably on paper, and set a priority level for each of those accomplishments. “A” priorities are “must-achieve” tasks; “B” priorities are important, but can be dropped in favor of A tasks; and “C” priorities serve as “back burner” tasks that aren’t nearly as important. Time management is a major factor in boosting productivity.
6. Make decisions for the morning
Decision fatigue is a real phenomenon in which the quality of your decisions tends to decrease in line with the number of decisions you’re forced to make. In other words, if you have to make 30 decisions in a day, your thirtieth decision will be measurably worse than your first decision. You can mitigate decision fatigue by making more decisions in advance—especially trivially simple ones, like laying out your clothes and prepping your breakfast, which can be handled the evening before.
Many highly productive people spend at least 15 minutes each night meditating. The goal of meditation is to clear your mind of persistent or distracting thoughts, and provide you with a few moments of clear consciousness. It’s great for relieving stress that has accumulated throughout the day, and can even help you sleep better.
8. Go to bed at the same time
Sleep is vital if you want to achieve peak productivity, and one of the best ways to get better sleep is to be consistent. Try to go to bed at the same time every night, even on the weekends, and follow the same routine just before getting into bed. Over time, you’ll find it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Productive people know importance of establishing a routine
One secret to success here is to make these routines actual routines. Merely trying them once or twice isn’t going to be enough to make them effective. Commit to following your chosen routines three days in a row, and if that’s successful, try to make those habits stick for an entire week. If you can do that, it will become much easier to repeat these patterns of behavior indefinitely and unlock their true potential.
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