Most people understand the importance of establishing a productive morning routine. This helps them to get through the first hour or two of the day. But fewer people have been paying attention to their evening routines. After all, sticking to an evening routine can be much trickier, especially after a long day of activities in school or at work. All you want to do when you reach home is to take it easy and get some rest. But don’t forget – your evening routine is as important as your morning routine.
The Importance of Evening Routines
Firstly, the amount of time you have for an evening routine is going to be longer than the time you spend on your morning routine. In other words, you’ll need to put more thought into how you spend your evening hours. If you find yourself having insufficient time to perform certain tasks in the morning, these activities could be rescheduled to the evening before.
Secondly, having a quality evening routine helps you to get better sleep. Your body clock will know when it is time for you to go to bed. This can stimulate the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin when it is getting near bedtime. Research has shown that quality sleep can enhance concentration, helping you to perform better at the things you do. Good sleep is also said to make you a happier and more cheerful person.
Good Habits for Evening Routines
We have previously covered the basic building blocks which you can use to redesign your mornings. In this article, we will be sharing some tips on how you can introduce good habits into your evening routine.
1. Go to bed at the same time every night
Routines are all about building a sequence of actions which you can easily repeat on a day-to-day basis. Your body needs sleep in order to perform at its best. Apart from helping your body to restore energy expended during the day, sleep also makes you a more creative person. By having a consistent sleeping time every night, it is easier for you to wake up at the same time every morning.
In your new evening routine, make it a point to sleep early so that you get enough rest for better health. Students aged between 6 and 13 years old need 9 to 11 hours of sleep every night, whereas students aged between 14 and 17 years old should aim for 8 to 10 hours of quality slumber. When you are well-rested, chances are that you will wake up feeling excited for a new day ahead.
If waking up naturally isn’t your thing, consider setting an alarm so that you do not oversleep. But here’s a small trick we would like to share – set a countdown timer instead of an alarm. The duration of the countdown timer should be a multiple of 1½ hours, such as 7½ hours, 9 hours or 10½ hours. That is based on a typical sleep cycle of 1½ hours for young adults. Waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle can make you feel tired and restless for the entire morning. Setting a countdown timer means that you do not need to perform any mathematical calculations to determine your alarm time. Furthermore, a countdown timer doesn’t tempt you with a big button that reads ‘snooze’.
2. Organise your supplies before you go to sleep
Evenings are the best time for you to prepare what you need for the next day. There is more time for you to get everything in place, so you wouldn’t be frantically searching for a misplaced item during the limited time in the morning.
When you arrive home after school, it can be tempting to just change into your home clothes and empty the contents of your pockets and place them wherever you are. Well, that’s one quick and easy way to misplace things. We recommend placing items such as your keys, mobile phone and wallet at a designated location every time you get home. This helps you to find the items you need in the shortest possible time. Home organisation experts call this a ‘drop zone’, and it could be located anywhere in your home. Perhaps you could choose an uncluttered table in your bedroom. Or a desk placed near the door so you can pick up the items as you leave.
Pack your bag in the evening for greater peace of mind. You would sleep better knowing that you are ready to leave for school when you wake up the next morning. This way, you would not miss out on certain items, such as bringing your completed assignments or sports attire.
Speaking of which, you should prepare your clothes for the next day by laying out your school uniform, socks and shoes in a convenient location. Take your school uniform out of the cupboard and hang it on your bedroom door. This allows you to visually check that everything is in good order. You wouldn’t want to wake up realising that your uniform has not been ironed, or that you’ve used up your last pair of socks the day before.
Spend some time to tidy things up once in a while. Living in a well-organised environment helps you to focus on your tasks and activities at hand. It also helps you to feel more relaxed, knowing that you can locate items easily.
3. Take care of your personal hygiene and health
Take a shower in the evening to get rid of the sweat and impurities that have accumulated on your skin throughout the day. Some people prefer to shower once they reach home, while others prefer to wash up right before going to bed. Don’t forget to place your dirty clothes inside the laundry basket. You wouldn’t want to start your day tripping over yesterday’s clothes that were left on the floor!
Before you sleep, remember to brush your teeth and wash your face, as part of your evening routine. We find this especially useful in a warm and humid environment like Singapore, as it helps you to sleep more soundly.
Staying healthy is very important for students. You do not want to fall sick and miss out on lessons. One way to stay healthy is to participate in physical activities two to three times a week. You could go for a jog when the weather is more cooling. On warmer evenings, swimming could give you a good cardio workout. We recommend trying out new sports from time to time, in order to introduce more variety to your routine.
The food which we eat every day also plays a part in keeping us healthy. Avoid eating snacks for supper, as this can cause you to put on weight. But we know that all the energy spent on doing homework and assessment books can cause you to get hungry easily. Drinking some water might help. If you are really hungry, choose healthier options such as fresh fruit or nuts.
4. Keep yourself hydrated by drinking enough water for the night
Drink a glass of water right before going to bed, and leave another glass of water next to your bed. Drinking water right before sleeping ensures that your body gets enough water while you are sleeping at night. Water is needed for the different parts of our body to continue performing their respective functions. For example, your brain needs water to consolidate the information which you have learnt at school.
By drinking enough water to last you for the night, it is less likely for you to wake up in the middle of the night feeling thirsty. And if you do, there is no need for you to walk to the kitchen to fetch some water and quench your thirst. Keeping a glass of water next to you can be handy – just be careful not to accidentally knock over the glass while you are sleeping. For those who have the habit of waving their hands around in bed, try positioning the glass of water further away so that it is slightly out of reach.
And if you do not wake up in the middle of the night, you could always drink the glass of water first thing in the morning.
It is never a good idea to grind some coffee beans or brew some tea leaves right before bed time. If you need your daily dose of coffee or tea, consider adjusting your consumption habits to avoid caffeine after lunch. As caffeine can stay in your body for hours, you could find it difficult to fall asleep at night. You also wouldn’t want to make drinking coffee or tea a habit that sticks with you into adulthood. There are caffeine-free options such as herbal tea or decaffeinated coffee. And even if you are not a coffee or tea connoisseur, don’t forget that cola contains caffeine too!
5. Prepare yourself for the next day
Evenings are one of the best times of the day for you to do some self-reflection. What are the things which went well during the day, and what are the things that didn’t quite work out the way you wanted them to?
Talk about how your day went with your family. Let your family members know what you are looking forward to the next morning. Get your thoughts out of your mind by leaving them in a journal before you go to sleep. Spend a few minutes to revisit your short-term goals and long-term vision to make sure that you are on track.
Now that you are feeling motivated, give yourself a brief mental rundown of your to-do list for the next day. Instead of deciding on what to do, your first task after waking up will be to jump straight into action. As part of your evening routine, identify the highest-priority tasks which you should focus on in the morning. We wouldn’t recommend having more than three or four tasks in your priority list.
Prioritising helps you to increase your productivity, and to maximise what you can achieve during the limited time you have each day as a student. Some people prefer to start their day with the most important task. Others may choose to get the most urgent task out of the way. Or you could make use of the Eisenhower matrix and classify your tasks into one of its four quadrants.
6. Set up a conducive sleep environment
With so many things happening throughout the day, your body needs its well-deserved rest in the evening and at night. Your brain needs around an hour or two to wind itself down before you enter a state of deep sleep.
Have you ever tried studying in bed, just to realise that you have fallen asleep until the next morning? That’s because your brain has already associated your bed with sleeping. Your brain gets confused when you study at the place where you are supposed to sleep. Doing your homework in bed is not good for your posture too, so stay away from your bed until you are ready to sleep.
Power down and unplug all your electronics, and switch your mobile phone to aeroplane mode. You wouldn’t want to be awakened by your phone and greeted with the words ‘sorry, wrong number’. You’ll also want to avoid hearing those sporadic mechanical noises when your inkjet printer decides to move its ink cartridges, just as you are about to fall asleep.
We would also suggest leaving your phone outside your room while you are asleep. Studies have concluded that the electromagnetic radiation emitted by mobile phones can affect your sleep quality. While it may be difficult to avoid wireless signals that are everywhere, you would want to keep your exposure to a minimum.
Turn off all the bright lights around you so that your brain can gradually adjust itself to ‘sleep mode’. For light sleepers, close the curtains so that stray light does not enter your bedroom. This habit can be worked into your evening routine without too much additional effort.
7. Minimise screen time in the evenings for better sleep
You’ve probably heard this one before: stay away from bright screens, especially for the last hour before you sleep. That’s because the bright screens of computers and mobile phones inhibit the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. In other words, the artificial blue light emitted by these devices makes it more difficult for you to fall asleep. Having sufficient quality sleep helps you to improve your performance, both academically and in your social life.
Students should limit their screen time to around two to three hours per day. But in a connected world we are living in today, this can be a little tricky to achieve. As a student, you may be asked to complete and submit your homework electronically. You would also need to account for leisure screen time, including surfing the internet, watching videos and checking your phone.
We understand that some of you may need to work on your computer or tablet in the evening. In that case, download an app such as Flux or Twilight to adjust the colour spectrum of your screen according to the time of the day.
Have you been spending your evenings scrolling through the countless posts from your friends on Instagram and Facebook? Set aside a specific time of the day (and a time limit) to check for updates on social media. Or if you really need to catch up with your friends over a movie marathon, consider doing it during the weekend rather than on a weekday evening.
By reducing your daily screen time, you can free up more time to spend with your family and friends. You have more time to concentrate on your studies and homework. You can even participate in other activities which you have always been interested in, such as learning a new language or taking up a new sport.
8. Spend quality time together with your family
After spending a long day at school or in the office, wouldn’t it be great to enjoy some quality time with those who are closest to you? When designing your new evening routine, set aside some time to spend together with your parents and siblings. For example, you could take a short walk outside for fifteen to twenty minutes and breathe in some fresh air. Or you could have an engaging conversation together while sitting under the stars.
Have dinner together as a family on a regular basis, and make it part of your evening routine. If your parents are cooking dinner at home, offer to help out. You could even take turns to prepare dinner for the whole family. It is always easier to prepare a meal for more people, allowing you to have a more healthy diet. If your parents are working late, you could always arrange to have your family meals during the weekend.
You can also guide your younger siblings who need help with their homework and assignments. This is an excellent way for you to refresh your knowledge for concepts you have learnt in previous years. Apart from strengthening your understanding, you also get to spend quality time with your siblings.
Make Your Evening Routines Stick
When you first introduce an evening routine, it can be difficult to just depend on your mind and willpower. Having a proper plan for your evening routine makes it easier for you to follow through. Prepare a detailed schedule for the tasks which you need to do every evening. Tell the people around you about your plans, and ask them to help you make sure that you are staying on track.
When your efforts start to show results after a few weeks, you will be more inclined to stick to your new evening routine. At that point, you should continue to build better habits and improve yourself further. Don’t forget to adjust your routines once in a while to see if you can make them even better than before.
Have our articles about routines and habits helped you to improve yourself? Let us know what are some of the interesting activities you’ve been doing during the extra time you have gained.