8 things you should do every evening to relax, unwind, and set yourself up for success. Here’s my perfect weekday evening routine…
It’s 5pm and you’re finished work. What do you do now? We spend a lot of time talking about morning routines and how developing a series of healthy morning habits can really set you up for success for the rest of the day. We don’t spend half as much time discussing night routines, which to me is just WEIRD. I would argue that morning and evening routines are just as important as each other. They’re both about putting in place a series on small steps that can have an incremental effect and really lead to some big changes in your life. Want to be happier, healthier, and more productive? Then you need a good morning routine AND a good evening routine.
The perfect evening routine
For me, the perfect evening routine starts by separating your work day from the rest of your evening. If you’re still thinking about work projects or mentally ticking off everything you did or didn’t manage to get done on your to-do list that day then there’s every chance you could spend your whole evening thinking about work. I’ve been there many times and it’s not fun. You’re also not getting paid to think about work all night, right?
I’m a big advocate of not working overtime and instead making sure you ring-fence your free time as time and space to focus on your own creative projects. I talk about working late in one of previous jobs here, and to this day it’s one of my biggest regrets. Why? Well, it meant I never had the time or energy to focus on what I wanted to do outside of work, like this blog. Apart from anything else, when you have a proper break from work it means you feel much more refreshed the next day. But more on that a bit later…
Why is an evening routine important?
At the moment, creating a healthy work life balance is more important than ever before, as a lot of us are still working from home while the world slowly pieces itself back together after the pandemic. As much as there are some benefits to working from home for the time being, it also means that you may only have a couple of metres of distance between your work space and the space where you relax and unwind in the evenings. That can make it can feel tricky to disengage and separate your work and your home life.
However, that’s why it’s MORE important than ever to get a good evening routine in place. A really solid evening routine with help you to reset, relax and get ready for the next day. For busy people with even busier lives, that’s a triple-threat combination not to be sniffed at. Let’s look at a few other things a great evening routine checklist can help you with…
- Enables you to reset and change gear after work
- Gives you space to reflect on your day – and learn from it
- Creates time to get some fresh air and develop an exercise routine
- Means you create time each night to prepare a healthy dinner
- Frees up more time the next day so you don’t wake up stressed out
- Carves out some space in the day for YOU and your creative projects
- Means that you have time to recharge so you feel refreshed the next day
- Has the potential to set you up for success the next day
- Gives you time to disconnect from your device and ditch the screens
- Ensures you get a better night’s sleep. It’s all about those Zzz…
The evening routines of successful people
Whenever we talk about evening routines we all want to hear about what the evening routines of successful people look like. After all, as the saying goes, Beyonce has the same hours in the day as the rest of us. However, there’s also one important thing to remember before we start. A good evening routine is one that works for you, not anyone else – even Taylor Swift. You might find that creating an evening skincare routine makes you feel really relaxed and pampered – or maybe a 30 minute yoga routine straight after work to shake off those work stresses is more your thing.
Whatever it is, you do you. Successful people might give you some solid evening routine ideas, yes, but the most important thing is to develop the healthy habits that make you feel good! So now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s get started! Eight awesome evening routine ideas coming right up…
My 8-step evening routine
1) Finish work on time – and don’t burnout
I don’t know about you but usually by the time I’ve finished work at 5pm my brain is pretty fried. That’s why I don’t feel guilty about finishing on time. I have long-term goals I want to dedicate time to in the evening – my blog for example – and I also feel like by the time I’ve worked for eight hours I need to recharge my batteries. Plenty of studies show that you’re not actually more productive if you work late, and it’s also bad for your health. I also found that when I’ve worked late in previous roles for no extra pay it ends up making you feel resentful – not a good place to be.
Who does it: Sophia Amoruso, founder of Nasty Gal: “Burnout is a real thing and I used to advocate for going on that grind, grind, grind. I think that’s a really outdated way of thinking. Employees who feel like they have different times to be themselves and have their own lives are higher performing teams and stick around a lot longer.”
2) Get some fresh air and exercise
The best way to reset if you’re feeling a bit bogged down with thoughts of work is to do some exercise – even better if you can get outside to do it. At the moment I either exercise in the morning or after work and I find it a great way to get myself in a different head space; you do your workout, you take a shower and get into your comfies and you’re ready to enjoy the evening. Even if you don’t want to commit to some full-on cardio you could try an evening stretch routine or take a a brisk walk around that block to get the same effect, with the added benefit of lots of fresh air! Plug in your headphones, choose your favourite podcast (here’s mine) and feel your worries slip away.
3) Set yourself up for the next day
Creating a powerful evening routine isn’t just about having a relaxing evening. It’s also about setting yourself up for success and productivity the next day too. What do you want to achieve tomorrow and how can you put the steps in place to achieve that tonight? That might be cooking a healthy meal that you can use as leftovers for lunch the next day – or or it might be putting a wash on to ensure you’ve got your gym stuff ready for the morning. No excuses to bail on your workout, right?
Whatever you need to do, make sure you tackle those life admin jobs that will make tomorrow that little bit easier. Thinking long-term, practising gratitude is also a really important part of your evening routine. Oprah swears by writing a nightly gratitude list every evening, and says that it makes her show up as a better version of herself each day, because what she does can’t be “phoned in”. As one of the most successful women in the world, I’m listening. See below.
Who does it: Oprah: “I kept a gratitude journal for a full decade without fail- and urged you all to do the same. Then life got busy. My schedule overwhelmed me… [However] I’m back to journaling – electronically – and whenever there’s a grateful moment, I note it. I know for sure that appreciating whatever shows up for you in life changes your personal vibration. You radiate and generate more goodness for yourself when you’re aware of all you have and not focusing on your have-nots.”
4) Relax… in whichever way you prefer
I love relaxing with an episode or two of my TV show in the evenings. Why? Well. it’s a great way to tune out from anything that’s bothered you over the course of the day and just absorb yourself in another world for a short while. I think some of us definitely need that when it’s been a tough day at the office.
You can also multi-task. I’m a big Pinterest user as it’s such a great source of traffic for my blog. I spend some time each evening creating and scheduling pins while I watch TV. That might not be for everyone, of course. Other people might relax by cooking a meal or journalling or doing macrame. For me, if you can do your hobby while enjoying your favourite boxset it’s a win-win! Want to read more about how I create clickable pins while I relax on the sofa after work? Take a look at my post here.
Who does it: Taylor Swift: “I love spending a full evening cooking a meal while sipping a glass of wine and listening to old music.”
5) Clear your space and declutter your mind
As I said above, creating a productive evening routine isn’t about unwinding. It’s also about setting yourself up for success the next day. That’s not going to work if your house is a tip. I’m not talking about doing a deep clean of the bathroom, but there is something to be said for having an evening cleaning routine. This doesn’t have to be anything complicated. I’m talking about clearing away your dishes from dinner, quickly wiping down surfaces and loading up the dishwasher / doing the dishes. If you live with your partner or family then make it a joint effort – that way you’ll get it done twice as quickly. I’m not a fan of chores anyone than the next person. However, it’s much nicer to wake up to a clean space the next day.
6) Do something for you
We’ve all got something we enjoy working on – whether it’s a hobby, blog, DIY project, or side hustle. Whatever it is you’re passionate about, it’s important to try and carve out some time in your evenings to dedicate to it. Not only does it make you feel like you’re not just on the hamster wheel of work, sleep, rinse and repeat, it’s also a great way to develop new skills.
I’ve learned so much in the few months that I’ve been blogging, such as how to write for SEO and how to grow your blog to 10k monthly views using Pinterest, and these are all skills that I can apply to my marketing career. I also think it’s a good idea to have a goal to work towards to keep you focused. Mine is to monetise my blog so that I can supplement my income, and that keeps me motivated when Pinterest is getting on my nerves!
Who does it: Vera Wang, fashion designer: “My bedroom is my sanctuary. It’s like a refuge, and it’s where I do a fair amount of designing — at least conceptually if not literally.”
7) Unplug before bed
I read a quote about this subject recently which was pretty apt. It said that most things start to work again if you just unplug them for a few moments – including yourself. So to that point, I like to make sure I have around half an hour of unplugged time with no phone before I go to sleep. I’ve made a point of getting some new books and it feels so much better to read a physical page than be squinting at some text on a screen that’s so bright it hurts my eyes. I’m currently reading Sally Rooney’s Normal People which I’m loving so far – I really want to get back into reading books regularly again.
Who does it: Arianna Huffington, co-founder of The Huffington Post: “Make a point to disconnect from your devices, for the sake of your sleep and your overall wellbeing. I have a specific time at night when I regularly turn off my devices—and gently escort them out of my bedroom.”
8) Go to bed at the same time each night
Gosh, I must sound dull but I think there’s so much value in going to bed at the same time each night. It’s all about routine though! I know that if I go to bed by 11pm each night I’ll have enough energy to focus the next day. That’ll get me through eight hours of work, a workout, and give me some reserve energy for tackling whatever algorithm updates Pinterest throws at us all this week. I need to be fresh and energised to face what life has to throw at me each day. I can’t do that without being well rested and so that’s why I swear by sleep. It’s simple but pretty darned effective.
Who does it: Farrah Storr, editor of Elle (UK): “I sleep for eight hours a night, which is why I think I never get ill.”