It’s 5 o’clock. The workday is done. And you can finally put all of your tasks away. Wrong!
As any entrepreneur will tell you, the workday never stops. That’s not to say that we work 24/7 on actual work, but an entrepreneur’s mind, and a small business owner’s mind, never really stops. We’re always innovating. We’re always thinking of the next big thing to do in our business.
So, cue bedtime. Whether it’s 8 o’clock, 10 o’clock, or two in the morning, bedtime is a ritual we all follow in one way or another. If you’re like me and have a hard time shutting your mind off and stopping the 24/7 round of ideas, then you might benefit from a scheduled and planned entrepreneur’s evening routine.
I know that when I follow a morning routine, my day is 10,000 times more productive and more focused. The same goes for an entrepreneur’s evening routine. By having a solid bedtime routine, my brain is able to focus and process my activities properly for the next day. I have better sleep and I know I can tackle whatever is coming my way because I’ve already planned for it.
Here are the 5 tasks I complete before bed that set me up for success in the morning:
1. Make a List. My brain is an internet browser with 1 million tabs open and operating at once. If I don’t get it all out of my head, it will literally keep me up at night.
Before I get into bed, I make a list of everything I know I need to do in the morning. Whether it’s booking an appointment or proof reading a document, I write down everything I can think of…and then a re-write it based on priority.
I know it sounds crazy and tedious, but think of it like making a shopping list based on parts of the store—dairy, produce, drinks, etc. You wouldn’t grab deli turkey, then apples, then deli ham, so why would you write a to-do list that has you bouncing all over your task list?
A well-organized list helps me prioritize my tasks and ensures I have a productive morning.
2. Drink a glass of water. Just a glass…you don’t want to be up all night taking trips to the bathroom. Drinking a glass of water before bed will help you hydrate, and we could all use a little more hydration.
Not only does it help your body run at its optimum level, but hydrating has been known to increase your natural levels of melatonin production in your body. Melatonin is the hormone that helps you regulate sleep, fall asleep, and stay asleep longer. Total win!
3. Get prepared. I spend a few minutes every night just making sure everything is together for the next day.
I set out clothes for myself and my kid, I pack lunches, I make sure my keys and bag are in their proper place, I put projects or mailings in the car so I’m ready to go, I even set out my workout equipment so I have no excuse not to use it.
Whatever I think will help my morning run smoother, I do it now.
4. Read for fun…but not in bed. In the morning I read to better myself, but in the evening, I read to escape. Romance novels, action adventure, fantasy, biographies, whatever you are into, make sure to read at least seven pages a night.
Why seven pages? Because that’s doable for everyone. It’s enough to get you occupied, but not so much that you feel it’s impossible. If seven pages is too weird for you, I have also used the one-chapter rule.
The point is to get deep enough into the story that it switches the narrative in your brain from full-on work mode to something completely different.
5. Visualize your day. Finally, in my bed, I visualize my next day, being careful not to overly focus on any one thing (when I do that, I get caught up in all sorts of scenarios that just hype me up again).
I visualize my goals for the day, my day-to-day activities and morning routine—it’s almost like counting sheep, but with mundane tasks. Works like a charm!
Other bedtime tips from a recovering insomniac:
- Don’t eat after 7pm if you can help it. You want your body to focus on rest, not digestion.
- Avoid caffeine after 4pm. So just say no to after dinner espresso.
- Lay off the alcohol. I know sometimes a few drinks can make you sleepy, but overall it can negatively affect your sleep cycle.
- Plug in all your devices, preferably NOT in your room or directly next to you.
- Use blackout curtains and maybe even a sounds machine. You want your room to be the Mecca of sleeping.
- The bed is for sleep or sexy time, not reading or watching TV. Keep it separate so you don’t associate the bed with the wrong activities.
- Keep a notebook on your nightstand in case you wake up with inspiration or an idea, but don’t want to actually get out of bed and pursue it. This will help you get back to sleep without losing the spark.
- Try to go to bed (and wake up) at the same time each day. Routine. Routine. Routine.
- Avoid strenuous evening exercise that might keep you up.
- Dim the lights or use a color changing lightbulb on a timer to set the mood for sleep (also works great to announce bedtime for a toddler)
What’s your entrepreneur’s evening routine? Tell us in the comments!