When Morning Routine Fails, Take The Night Routine
Not Every Entrepreneur Wakes Up At 6 a.m.
The morning routine has always been a hype among productive gurus. It can skyrocket your productivity, they say. A typical productive morning routine shall start at 5 or 6 am and includes activities below:
- Take a cold shower
- Plan your day
- Set goals
- Prepare breakfast
- Have breakfast
After completing these tasks within the first 2–3 hours of your day, you can be certain that your day will be more productive.
To be honest, I don’t have any personal experience with this kind of productive morning routine, I’m not a morning person. But, I do think they actually work and it’s somehow the reason why morning routines are so popular.
Take a look at how early these big names below wake up:
- Apple CEO Tim Cook — 3:45 am
- PepsiCo former CEO Indra Nooyi — 4 am
- Starbucks former CEO Howard Schultz gets up at 4:30 am
- Jack Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of Twitter and Square, wakes at 5 am
- LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner — 5:30 am
- Oprah Winfrey — between 6:02 and 6:20 am
Morning routines are fantastic! Isn’t it?
But my questions are: why do we focus so much on “morning” instead of “routine”? Is it wrong if you perform this routine at night? Are you doomed if you are not a morning person, but a night owl?
Well, in my opinion, one size doesn’t fit all.
In fact, everyone has their own internal prime time.
Your internal prime time is the time of day, according to your body clock, when you are the most alert and productive. For most people, this is in the morning. For some people, however, it is in the evening. — Brian Tracy
Here’s the good news for the night owl — not every successful individual wakes up before 6 am.
- Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, wakes by 8 am
- Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti ‘sleeps in’ to 8:30 a.m
- Singer Pharrell Williams starts his day at 9 am
- Aaron Levie, co-founder, and CEO of Box wakes up at 10 am
- Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian tries to be up by 10 am
- Comedian Trevor Noah wakes up at 6 pm
Being a night owl myself, I am thankful enough if I get to wake up by 8 am without setting my alarm at 7:30, 7:42, 7:51, 8:00 and 8:04 am. Being able to sleep 5 minutes more in the morning is a blessing to me.
Early bird catches the worm, but night owl catches the mouse
Statistics have also shown that night owls tend to have:
- Increased creativity and productivity
- Greater financial and professional success on average
- Higher IQs
- Increased stamina throughout the day
- Greater reasoning and analytical abilities”
Night owls can be cool too! But keep in mind, those who can’t perform a morning routine aren’t just the night owls, parents who have to wake up at 6 am to prepare breakfast and send their children off to school faces the same problem too. They certainly wouldn’t have time to complete a 9 items long to-do-list in the morning.
This is where the night routine comes into play.
Night Routine — The Alternative to a Productive & Fulfilling Life
A morning routine might require you to wake up early but you don't have to delay your bedtime for a productive night routine. Everyone can have one.
Instead of focusing on how to do more at night, a night routine prepares yourself for a better tomorrow by means of giving a wonderful way to end the night.
Therefore, you don’t have to cramp your night routine with a 9 items to-do-list. By completing the 5 activities below, you will be on your way to a more productive and fulfilling life.
1. Spend time with family
“Ohana means family and family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.” –Stitch
No matter how busy you are, your family should always be your priority. Family is God’s gift to us, you can change your friends, but not your family. Spend more time with your family, partner, and children, especially.
Childhood is extremely important in shaping the character of kids. They are born a piece of white plain paper and parents are the ones who will be leaving the first mark on it.
“Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.” –Michael J. Fox
A study also found that “feeling isolated and disconnected from the people around you may keep you from getting a good night’s sleep, even if you’re not aware of it.”
Relationships need effort to be maintained. They need you as much as you need them, if not more. You could be successful, you could be rich. But they are meaningless if there’s nobody to share them with.
“Success is empty if you arrive at the finish line alone”- Howard Schultz
Successful people like president Barack Obama and Bill Gates are known to read for at least a half-hour before bed. It turns out reading before bed are more about the process itself, rather than to gain knowledge.
“This isn’t necessarily reserved just for business reading or inspirational reading. Many successful people find value in being browsers of information from a variety of sources, believing it helps fuel greater creativity and passion in their lives,” says Michael Kerr, an international motivational speaker.
Research also found that bedtime reading reduces stress much more effectively compared to drinking tea/coffee or taking a walk. “ It only took 6 minutes for participants’ stress levels to be reduced.” according to the research. This is because our mind was distracted from our troubles and stresses. We escaped the real world.
‘Reading can take you places you have never been before.’ — Dr. Seuss
3. Keep a gratitude journal
Journaling is known to have substantial benefits in our lives such as improving memory, evoking mindfulness and healing. In fact, you don’t have to write a 1000-words journal to achieve that, just list down 2 things for each of the questions below:
- What are the things you are grateful for today?
- What are your small wins?
- What do you wish to prioritize or improve tomorrow?
Of course, the numbers can vary. You can list down 10 things that you felt grateful for but you should never put more than 3 priorities for tomorrow.
“If everything’s a priority, then nothing’s a priority.” — Frank Sonnenberg
By recalling the positive events of the day and wrapping it up with gratitude and positivity, you’ll be gradually rewiring your brain for happiness. In other words, your mental health can be improved.
4. Plan for the next day
A productive day starts the night before. Make all the decisions before you go to bed. What to eat for breakfast tomorrow? What to wear? What to bring?
You don’t want to be stressed out by decision fatigue in the morning while you are still groggy in bed.
Lay out the clothes you plan to wear so that you don’t dress up like a clown when you’re in rush tomorrow. Prepare the coffee maker, cut the ingredients, make the salad, so that you won’t skip breakfast due to laziness. Refill your water bottle, pack your bag and put everything by the door so that you won’t leave anything behind.
Of course, you don’t have to squeeze your toothpaste the night before unless you are telling me that you will actually forget to brush your teeth.
After filling up our brain with so much information and tension throughout the day, it’s time to unload. Let them go or you’ll find yourself tossing and turning all night. If you are lucky, you get to fall asleep. But they will haunt you in your dream. So, clear your head and just chill and relax. Here’s what you can do to wind down:
- Read a book (horror is a no-no)
- Listen to music ( probably not the heavy metal)
I wouldn’t recommend watching TV, playing video games or taking a hot shower right before bed since they might turn you into a zombie tomorrow.
In a nutshell
It’s not how you start. It’s how you finish.
What you do the night before determines how productive and energized you are tomorrow. And ensuring yourself to have a goodnight’s sleep is the best way to welcome your morning.
However, just like a morning routine, the night routine might not fit everyone. After all, a routine is what really matters. Getting into the 5 am club or the 1 pm club doesn’t make you the most productive person. Following your heart and harnessing your internal clock is what makes you truly productive.