nightly routine

How to Create a Nightly Routine That Will Get You On Top of Your Game

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Ever feel like you just can’t get on top of things? Like you constantly need a break, are always just a little behind where you should be, and are not quite doing what you should be to take care of yourself? You need a nightly routine! Having a night routine can really help you feel replenished and on top of your game. It has been a game-changer for me and it can be for you too!

1. Plug your phone in and set your alarm 1 hour before bed.

The first thing I do to get ready for bed is set my alarm for the morning and plug my phone in. I do this first so I can avoid screen time before bed while I’m doing the rest of my nightly routine. Also, when I finally get in bed and get comfy, I don’t have to get out of my warm covers to go set my alarm when I realize I forgot to.

2. Check your schedule and plan your day.

Just the simple task of identifying what I need to do the next day the night before has a huge impact on my mindset and productivity. It’s so simple, but the difference is amazing. When I wake up not knowing which things to focus on, I feel immediately overwhelmed and like there’s too much for me to do to really make a dent in anything. But if I wake up already knowing exactly what I’m going to work on, I feel on task and on top of things. My focus is narrowed and I’m able to cut out all the other little things I have to do for the moment.

3. Prioritize your to-do list for tomorrow.

I usually have 2 running to-do lists – blog-related tasks, and everything else. Before bed, I make sure to identify 1-3 tasks from each, depending on the size of the tasks and how much time I will have the next day, that are the most important to tackle. That way, when I wake up in the morning, I don’t waste any time trying to figure out what to work on. It’s important to choose things that you can reasonably get done. What do you have time to accomplish tomorrow that is important to you, that will make you feel like you can call the day a success if you complete?

4. Set out your clothes.

If you plan to work out tomorrow, set out your workout clothes. Anything you can do to make it easier for yourself to actually get your workout in is a smart idea. Whenever I REALLY don’t feel like working out, I just tell myself to put on the workout clothes. Putting on clothes isn’t so hard. So I do that, and once they’re on it’s hard to justify getting all dressed up for it and NOT working out. It may sound silly, but this has literally made all the difference for me.

Whether or not you plan on working out tomorrow set out your day clothes. Choosing an outfit can take a surprising amount of effort some mornings, so save that energy and brain power for your task list! Select your outfit the night before. That way you don’t have to spend an ounce of energy figuring that out. It feels surprisingly nice to have your clothes set out for yourself – it sort of feels like someone else did it for you!

5. Get the coffee ready.

I use a french press at home, so every night before bed I wash the press, grind my coffee beans, and fill up the tea kettle. That way when my alarm goes off in the morning, all I have to do is turn the stove on. Then if I need it I can crawl back into bed until the water is hot. If I don’t, I can get my morning started. Either way, it’s a great feeling to just turn a dial to get the coffee drug. If you drink tea instead, fill up your kettle the night before and set out a mug and a tea bag.

6. Prepare your provisions.

Some days my schedule allows me to eat lunch at home, and some days I need to pack a lunch. Take a moment each night to review the upcoming day and determine whether you’ll need a lunch. If you do, prepare one so that it’s ready to grab and go in the morning. Have an early morning tomorrow? Make a breakfast to grab and go! My personal favorite is overnight oats topped with berries. The idea is to make your morning flow as smoothly as possible to give yourself some positive momentum early in the day.

7. Make sure there are no dishes in the sink.

Make sure you wash all your dishes before you go to bed at night. Two reasons for this: you can easily waste precious time and energy in the morning doing them that you should be using for more important tasks, and seeing a sink full of dirty dishes first thing in the morning will make you feel like you are NOT on top of your game. Like you are behind already and just have one MORE thing to do today. Save yourself some hassle and do it before bed. Trust me.

8. Floss, brush your teeth, wash your face.

Pretty self-explanatory, but also important enough to list here.

I hate flossing. And I hate washing my face outside of the shower. But it’s obviously super important to do.

Unless you’re a seven-year-old reading this blog, the set of teeth you have now are the only ones you’re going to get. So you need to take care of them. I’ve had several older people tell me that taking good care of your teeth is one of the best pieces of advice they can give.

When it comes to washing my face, I hate getting water everywhere and having it run down my forearms when I’m rinsing off. But I LOVE the feeling of a clean face hitting my pillowcase.

My solution? WASHCLOTHS!!! Use a washcloth to get your face wet with warm water, apply your wash, and then use it again to wipe off the soap instead of leaning over the sink and splashing cupped water all over yourself.

It feels amazing to wipe your skin gently with a warm cloth, and I can avoid ruining my mood by getting water all over myself right before I’m supposed to get in bed and relax!

9. Wash your feet.

This one may not be something you think of right away, but it really feels like a luxury to slip into your sheets with clean feet. Like washing your face, it’s easy to dismiss this one as overrated or unnecessary. But if you include this in your nightly routine, every time you do it, you’ll be like OMG why don’t I do this every night?!? It just takes a minute to sit on the edge of the tub and wash them. I promise you’ll be happy you did.

10. Put on your diffuser.

Don’t underestimate the effect that smell can have on your mood. It can be so subtle, but the scents you pick up on as you enter a room can either calm your nerves or set you a little on edge. I love to diffuse essential oils in my bedroom at night. My favorite bedtime aromas are Lavender, Serenity, or Balance.

11. Put oil on your feet.

Just take a moment to think about how much your feet do for you. Honestly. They walk you around all day long, they carry all of your body weight, they get dirty and stuffed into shoes all day long, and they rarely get any attention or appreciation at all.

My favorite way to give my feet the love they deserve is to wash them and then apply essential oil to them right before I climb into bed. Clary Calm, doTERRA’s women’s blend, is my favorite. Don’t let the name scare you though – it’s good for men too! My boyfriend loves it when I put it on his feet.

12. Write in your journal.

I have always been someone who wishes I kept a journal, but when it comes down to it, I just can’t ever seem to find the time. It’s a big time commitment, and I find it very daunting. But I really want to keep a record of my life.

What’s a girl to do?

Enter the Happiness Project one-sentence journal. It’s a five-year journal, with space for 5 entries per page. Basically, you get 4 lines worth of space to write about your day, so you have to keep it short and only write the most important things you want to make note of.

My entries usually end up being 3 sentences. But the great thing about it is it takes less than 5 minutes, so it’s actually something I can stick with!

Adding it to my nightly routine before bed has ensured that I keep it up daily. I’m looking forward to being a few years into it so I can read the entries from that day in the previous 2 years to see what I was up to and keep myself in a reflective mode and a place of gratitude.

I highly recommend this journal! But you can also do your own record keeping in whatever way works best for you.

13. Read in bed for 10-20 min.

Okay, you caught me. I can rarely actually read for 20 minutes before bed.

Not because I don’t love reading. Because when it’s late at night and I’m curled up in bed and I’ve already gone through my whole nightly routine so I’m EXTREMELY relaxed, I can’t help but drift off to sleep! That’s why it’s the perfect last step in my nightly routine. Sometimes it only takes 2 minutes!

I keep my book on my nightstand so I can just set it down when I’m done, after I’ve lifted my face off of it and wiped the drool away. Pro tip: use a bedside lamp to read by so you don’t even have to get out of bed to turn the light off.

This is why reading – for any length of time – is the perfect way to end your nightly routine. It’ll put you right to sleep after you’ve done a whole bunch of relaxing things to prepare yourself for it.

Not sure what to read? Check out my post, The Best 12 Provocative Books You Should Read in 2019.

Voila! The perfect nighttime routine. Implement and prepare to be impressed by the upgrade in your quality of life.

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Until next time,

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Hey there! I'm Megan.

Hey there! I'm Megan.

I believe in cultivating a happy life with intention, using one small building block at a time.

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[…] I cannot understate the importance and positive effect of having a morning routine and an evening routine. It took me a long time to realize the value of having them, but for me a morning and night routine is such a treat because it’s the perfect blend of productivity and self care. Spending my morning with intention sets a positive tone for my entire day. Doing a few little things to care for myself at night and set things up for the next day makes me feel like all is right with my world. Try it–seriously! If you need… Read more »


[…] Taking your time getting ready in the morning or getting ready for bed in the evening is something we don’t have the luxury of doing. If you have more time in your schedule now because of COVID-19, take advantage. It feels good to have the time to be able to do things well and have everything prepared. If you need tips on how to create a routine, check out this post. […]