Organization and Productivity

Finding a successful p.m. routine

I’ve written before about the importance of having an a.m. routine for success. From a non-morning owl, every tip and trick I can use to get myself going in the morning is essential.

But what about in the evening?

Here are a few routine-altering suggestions for creating a successful p.m. routine, so you can make the best of your evening hours, ensuring you set yourself up for an awesome morning.

1. Get enough sleep

Set a bedtime. Even consider a bedtime alarm for when you should start getting ready for bed.

Stop drinking caffeine at a certain hour. Mine tends to be by noon, so I’m not lying awake at night.

If you have a hard time falling asleep, consider taking melatonin an hour before bedtime or using a meditation/sleep app right before bed. I’ve used some of the sleep meditations on the Simple Habit app. Inevitably, I’m always asleep by the end of the meditation.

For dire times when I can’t fall asleep, I also use an app called RelaxMelodies to develop white noise that blocks out the rest of the noisy world that’s keeping me awake.

Studies show that you can’t catch up from a sleep deficit. Getting your full 6-9 hours of rest a night is essential to your health and productivity.

2. Plan for the next day

This takes a few forms.

For a productive work day, plan for your next morning.

Put away any clutter at your work space. If you must leave out files that you need for the next day, make sure they’re organized and tidy. A clean and organized work area can make a huge difference in your mood when you begin the next morning.

Lay out your clothes and pack your lunch. If you’re like me, mornings are not your friend. Any small prep you can do the night before to make your morning more efficient can only benefit you.

Make a list of the things you must do the next day, in priority list. I’ve often found that once I get into the office, the hectic bustle of the day and immediate “needs” of others distract from the essential things I must actually complete. A list of the three to five things I MUST accomplish that day keep me focused and help me arrange my time as other, pressing but not essential, tasks arise.

Keep that same list of non-work items. Buying milk, getting gas, getting the dry cleaning, giving your dog his heartworm medicine. All of these are important tasks that you can complete… if you track it. Keeping a list of essential things that need to be done in the next 2-3 days helps me find space in my schedule to complete them. If you keep it top-of-mind that you need to run to the post office, you’re more likely to notice and react when you have a few spare moments near a post office while running other errands.

3. Take care of your body

Getting enough sleep is an essential component of caring for your body. But since this list is focused on a successful p.m. routine, it seemed like that was a good enough reason to keep sleep separate…

Still, a whole other host of healthy behaviors can help make your evening (and subsequently, the next morning) efficient and happy. Are you eating well? Are you drinking enough water? Are you moderating your alcohol intake?

After doing the Whole30, I took stock of how individual foods were affecting my body. How did they make me feel? When did I have more energy? Knowing how your body reacts to things helps you tailor a diet that inspires more energy. Furthermore, it helps you make informed decisions about when it’s OK to drink a little more than you know your body would like or have that extra piece of cake, even though the sugar is going to make you drowsy.

Exercise is another obvious thing that can both help you sleep better at night and give you more energy for the next day. Figure out how to make your evening routine work for your health. Can you meal prep? Do yoga? Drink more water? Take care of your body, and it will take care of you.


Sometimes it’s not the specifics of an A-to-Z routine that make a difference. What sort of little changes have you made to create a successful p.m. routine that sets you up for an awesome morning?

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