If you want to have a great tomorrow, do these ten things tonight.
You can end your day by vegging out in front of the TV, staying up late, and taking all of your daytime stresses to bed with you. However, doing this is almost guaranteed to set you up for failure the next day. On the other hand, you can set yourself up to have a great tomorrow by doing the right things before heading off to sleep.
Below you’ll find 10 smart things to do every night.
One of the biggest time-sucks in the morning is preparing breakfast, which means that a lot of people will be tempted to skip their morning meal and just run out the door carrying a travel coffee mug. This is something you definitely want to avoid. After all, the benefits of eating a healthy breakfast are well-documented. These include the following:
- Eating breakfast will help you keep your weight down.
- It will make you feel more energized throughout the day.
- A good breakfast has been linked to better brain function.
Make sure that you’ll eat a healthy breakfast in the morning by getting everything ready the night before.
I put a cup of Bob’s Red Mill Apple-Blueberry Granola in a glass bowl with a snap n’ seal lid. Then, I add some sliced almonds and some raisins, and I seal the lid. Next, I place an unpeeled banana, a single-serve carton of skim milk (that doesn’t need refrigeration), and a spoon on the lid.
I set up the coffee maker so that I just have add water and press the “On” button in the morning, and I put a lemon and a knife on the cutting board so I can start my day by drinking warm lemon water. And, voila: everything is set up so that I can have a healthy breakfast first thing in the next morning.
There are many healthy and delicious make-ahead breakfast recipes available, so choose a couple that appeal to you and prepare your breakfast at night.
2. Lay Out Your Clothes For the Next Day.
You can save precious time in the morning by choosing the next day’s outfit the night before. Make sure that everything is ironed and ready to be worn. In addition, include undergarments, shoes, and accessories.
3. Put Everything You’ll Need by the Door.
Pack your bag or briefcase with everything that you’ll need the next day. Then, put your bag by the door. Every night I make sure that my bag has all of the following in it (I created a checklist for myself):
- Wallet (money and ID in the wallet).
- Sun block.
- Exercise book and gym towel.
- Laptop’s power plug.
- Any book I’ll need to refer to for that day’s work.
In addition, I always leave the keys to my apartment in the same place, and I place my Lifefactory glass water bottle next to my bag. Once I’m dressed in the morning all I have to do is head for the door, grab my stuff, and off I go.
4. Review Your Day.
You’ve probably heard that journaling for a few minutes is a good way to start your day. Writing morning pages is a part of many people’s morning ritual. However, it’s also a good idea to journal at night, or at least take a few minutes to think about your day.
According to a working paper from Harvard Business School, when people reflect on their day they boost their self-efficacy. Therefore, during your nighttime journaling sessions, ask yourself questions that will make you think about your day. Here are some examples:
- Did I get everything on my to-do list done today? If not, why not?
- What went well today?
- What did I do right today? How can I do more of this?
- What didn’t go well today? How could I have handled things differently?
- What were my interactions with others like today? Is there anyone I need to make things right with? Is there anything I need to do to improve my interactions with others?
- How can I have a better day, tomorrow?
Finally, you can add the question that Benjamin Franklin asked himself every night: What good have I done today?
5. Practice Gratitude.
As I wrote in my post, “Ten Strategies for Overcoming the Negativity Bias and Increasing Your Quality of Life“, people have a tendency to be more influenced by and to recall negative experiences, instead of neutral or positive ones. However, you can overcome the negativity bias.
Each night you should make an effort to recall and dwell on the good things that happened to you during the day. This will help keep your brain attuned to all of the good things in your life. By spending some time each night focusing on the positive events of the day, and feeling grateful for them, you’ll be gradually rewiring your brain for happiness.
6. Plan the Next Day.
Jack Canfield–a best selling author and motivational speaker–explains that the best way to get optimal results during the day is to plan your day the night before. He explains that if you don’t have a plan for your day you’ll spend the day responding to other people’s needs, instead of using your day to push your own agenda forward.
In addition, Canfield adds that if you write down what you need to get done the next day before going to bed, as you sleep your subconscious mind will be working on ways to make it happen. Your subconscious mind will do all of the following:
- Come up with creative ideas for getting your tasks done;
- Pull up information from the past that could be helpful; and
- Work all night long to help you achieve your perfect day.
Planning your day can be as simple as writing down the three most important things (your MITs) that you need to get done the next day on a Post-It note.
7. Read for Fifteen Minutes.
Successful people are readers. Reading provides cognitive stimulation, it makes you more knowledgeable, it expands your vocabulary, and it improves focus and concentration. What should you read? Here are some ideas:
- Read business books.
- Read about a subject that interests you, even if it’s not related to your job.
- Read books on self-improvement.
8. Follow a Bedtime Routine.
Following a bedtime routine signals to your conscious and subconscious mind that it’s time to settle down. Here are some ideas of things to include in your night routine:
- Take a warm shower. When you come out of a warm shower and walk into a cooler bedroom, your body temperature drops. This signals to your body that it’s time to slow down essential metabolic functions in preparation for rest.
- Floss your teeth. Floss before you brush your teeth—this will loosen the food and plaque between your teeth and under your gums. Or, floss after you brush your teeth. Just do it.
- Brush your teeth. Brush your teeth for about two minutes at night to help keep your teeth and mouth healthy.
- Wash your face. Throughout the day, your facial skin builds up dead skin cells, oil, bacteria, sweat, and other debris. You want to wash all of that gunk off your face before going to bed.
- Get into something comfy, such as cotton pj’s in the summer, and flannel ones in the colder months.
9. Right Before Bed, Unwind.
Devoting ten minutes to unwinding right before going to bed will help you to fall asleep faster. In addition, it will improve the quality of your sleep. Some things you can try include progressive relaxation, breathing exercises, meditation, or mindful movement–such as yoga, Tai Chi, or Qigong.
10. Go to Bed Early.
By going to bed early at night, you’ll be able to get up early in the morning and get a jump-start on your day. To quote Franklin once again, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”
Most adults need about seven hours of sleep every night. By working out at what time you need to wake up, you can set a regular bedtime schedule so that you can easily get out of bed at the sound of the bugle call (or whatever tone you choose for your alarm).
What you do in the morning right after you wake up, and what you do at night right before going to bed, are the bookends of your day. Build habits for your morning and night that will help you to live your best life. As far as the night habits go, use the 10 smart things to do every night explained above as inspiration to create your own positive night habits.
- Nine Morning Habits to Start the Day Right
- How to Start Your Day The Right Way
- Eight Ways to Build to New Habits and Make Them Stick
- Seven Things To Stop Doing To Become An Early Riser