When it’s getting late, sometimes all you want to do is watch some TV and go to bed. But that’s not what you should do- or at least, not all you should do.
How well you sleep that night, and how stressed out or productive you are the following day, will partly depend on what you do that evening. By taking a little bit of time to prep yourself for the next day, you can set yourself up to get a good night’s sleep and make the next day a big win for you.
1. Create a to-do list for the next day
As I mentioned in my last article, it’s easy to waste a lot of time milling around and figuring out what you need to do. Having a to-do list, or even a schedule, goes a long way towards cutting this out and helping you get straight to work.
Every evening, before you forget about “work” and start winding down, put together your to-do list for the next day, including your ONE most important task. The work gets done more easily when you know what you need to do.
2. Clean up your home
Take ten minutes to clean up before you start getting ready for bed. Throw away the trash. Tidy up your bedroom and workspace. Give the kitchen counter a quick wipe-down. Put everything where it belongs.
By doing this in the evening, you ensure that you won’t have to do it in the morning. With a clean home, you’ll feel less stressed out, and you’ll have one less little chore distracting you from the bigger tasks you need to complete that day, or standing in the way of your morning routine.
3. Pick out your clothes for the next day
Steve Jobs famously wore the same clothes every day in order to cut down on the number of decisions he needed to make. You don’t have to go that far, but it certainly does help if you don’t need to spend time and mental energy picking out your clothes the next morning.
Instead, pick them out the night before, and set the clothes you’ve chosen where you can quickly grab them and put them on first thing in the morning.
4. Block all light out of your bedroom
Even the smallest amount of light can limit your ability to enter deep sleep. The darker your bedroom, the faster you’ll get to sleep, and the more restful your sleep will be. A dark bedroom thus allows you to sleep “faster” and more efficiently.
Use a blackout curtain to cover the window. Unplug or cover up any artificial lights emanating from within the bedroom, even if it’s just a tiny running light on your computer or alarm clock. And if, after all that, there’s still a noticeable amount of light in your bedroom, wear a sleep mask.
5. Use mental overwriting to prevent racing thoughts
Racing thoughts, particularly anxious thoughts about things going on in your life, can stop you from falling asleep. You can prevent these thoughts from getting into your head in the first place by giving your mind something else to occupy it.
The specifics vary between people. Some people listen to music before bed, and find themselves hearing that music in their head as they go to sleep. Others play Tetris, and their thoughts are filled with falling, colored blocks as they fall asleep. Still others read a book, and their last thought before bed is of the story and characters from that book.
So find the type of thing that tends to stick in your mind- sights, sounds, or imagined events- and use that to occupy your mind before bed, so that anxious thoughts can’t get in the way of a good night’s sleep.
Re-invent your evenings; revolutionize your mornings
The reason all of these habits work is because they allow you to get a quick, unimpeded start on your day when you wake up the next morning. By rapidly gathering psychological momentum, you can accomplish more in one morning than most people do in a whole day.
If you want to sleep better, get off to a strong start in the morning, and be more successful and productive at everything you do, you need to build the habits that support success. That’s precisely why I created my Habit Change Cheat Sheet.
And before you go…
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