Balance: 5 steps to reduce fatigue with an evening routine

Ending the day well with an evening routine means you can wake up refreshed and ready to go again the next day without anticipatory fatigue!

I absolutely hate waking up in the morning and walking out into a messy living space with unclean dishes and unfolded washing. It makes me feel preemptively exhausted about all the work I have to do before I’ve even done it. It makes me feel stressed, hurried, and time pressured in the morning rather than relaxed. Preemptive tiredness, or anticipatory fatigue as it’s called in the literature, is a predictor of actual mental and physical fatigue.

Once the day starts it’s go, go, go. There never seems to be time to tidy up the mess because you have to race out the door and off to school and work.

And that’s why end of day routines are so important. Ending the day well means you can wake up refreshed and ready to go again the next day without anticipatory fatigue!

A 5 minute end of work evening routine

You want to be able to start the next day at work with a calm and productive mind and desk

At work, consider the 5 minute evening routine of

  • Tidying up your desk and resetting your space. Being able to come in the morning to a clear and tidy space promotes calm the next day. This shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes to reset your space. This includes cleaning out your dirty coffee cup. One colleague of mine started using a new coffee cup. I asked why and he said because it was less dirty than his old cup that he never cleaned. He could admit that he liked a clean cup, but couldn’t admit that maybe he should clean his coffee cups.
  • Putting the resources for your first task tomorrow out on your desk ready. If you struggle with procrastination and productivity, having the required materials out in plain sight can help you get started in the morning. It can also help with procrastination and creativity if you start part of the task (say, writing part of an opening sentence) then leaving it. Come back the next day and it should be easier and quicker to get started on the task. Even leaving your to-do list out on your desk ready can help with productivity the next morning.

And there you go – 5 minutes at the end of each day gives you calm and productivity the next morning.

evening routines to find your balance

A 5 step evening routine at home

An evening routine at home should be about promoting sleep with relaxation and digital well-being habits. But my favourite part of my evening routine is resetting the living room. Waking up to a tidy and clean house fills me with joy – and my mother even noticed and commented on how tidy the house was when she visited unexpectedly.

At home our favourite evening routine include elements of:

Step 1. 60 mins before bed – digital well-being

Digital well-being rituals. If you struggle with sleep, consider enforcing digital well-being as step one. Remove yourself from devices before bedtime and set phones to ‘do not disturb’ and greyscale ‘bedtime’ mode.

Step 2. 30 mins before bed – relaxing

Winding down rituals to prepare for bed. These might include having a cup of tea, a hot shower, spending 30 mins reading or crafting before going to bed.

Step 3. 10 minutes before bed – connection

Connection rituals. These might include having a debrief with your partner or children just before bed. Sharing the day’s highs and lows, a challenge you’re currently working on and what you’re grateful for is a great way to connect with family at the end of the day.

Step 4. 5 minutes before bed – reset

Tidy up rituals to reset the house. I have an alarm on my phone that goes off 5 minutes before my bedtime. It’s a reminder to reset the house. This might involve tidying the living room, clearing and wiping surfaces like the kitchen bench and dining table, and returning items back where they belong (like back to the kids’ bedrooms because their stuff always migrates). This way when you wake up in the morning, the house is tidy and ready for you. So calming!

Step 5. Just before bed – brain dump planning

Planning for the next day rituals. You know that moment when you lie in bed and suddenly remember things you need to do and tasks for tomorrow? Put a notebook and pen by your bedside to capture these thoughts as you go to sleep. The brain often thinks on problems while we sleep. If there’s a challenge for the next day, allow your mind to think about it as you sleep. Keep the notebook there in case you need to jot a creative insight down. It’s reported that Thomas Edison slept with a metal ball  in each hand so that when he fell asleep the balls would clang to the floor and wake him. Then he could capture the creative thought his brain had in sleep, which we normally do not remember.

Let her sleep for when she wakes she will move mountains

Napoleon Bonaparte (ok, so this quote is actually about China as a sleeping giant, and we don’t actually know if Napoleon said it, but we’ll ignore all that 🙂 )

Recommended Reading

Sleep for Kids – because an evening routine to prepare us for good sleep is important.

Get more in the 21 day Find Your Balance series, from work routines to reaching your goals.

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