[Updated] Start working on your mornings with an evening routine

This post is part of a larger interest, called self-structure, where I look into ways to support personal growth by organizing how I live. While I stay away from going to extremes, it has always been important for me to explore how I can improve, scale my impact, and structure my days. In this post, we look at setting up the evening routine.

Your morning routine starts with the way you sleep. Waking up in a consistent manner won’t happen unless you structure your nights. There is no way we can function on a daily basis, in a hyper-performance environment, without taking care of our sleep. I wanted to believe otherwise — but nop, it is impossible. 
Some people promise the wonders of 4 hours a night. I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt and find a few months later that it was their worst experience ever. I need a complete 8 hours night of sleep to make sure that I keep my energy high, be a nice person, and make sane decisions.

Therefore: follow through a morning routine = work on the night routine.

In what feels like a different life, I was in the habit of getting to bed at 2 or 3 am. I would be catching up with the latest youtube videos, sending a few messages, and binging on social media feeds. I felt like my day had not been productive, plus I was working in retail with crazy hours.

Goal number one: create an evening routine

Some would try to make rapid changes, hoping for a quick win. Unfortunately, that typically results in dropping the ball after a couple of weeks. As I wrote before, I am not looking for short-term improvements but lasting impact on myself. The goal was to make this entire thing a sustainable change rather than a sudden one. Instead of forcing me to get to bed early, I’d instead look for consistency. Can I go to bed at 2 am every night, never later?

Goal number two: finding a good time to sleep

After a few weeks, I could sense my body ready for the next challenge. By “sense,” I mean that it felt natural to drop everything I was doing at that time and head to bed, not feeling agitated. After getting used to it over several weeks, I would aim at going to bed a little earlier. I’d keep that goal for a few weeks, get comfortable, and try a bit earlier again. Settling to sleep at 10:30 pm would get me to wake up at 6:30 am. That is enough time to practice a morning routine before heading to work. 
Does it sound simple? The change happened over 18 months — picture the number of times I wanted to abandon it all!

Curious about my current routine? Head to my /now page.

Goal number three: falling asleep

Much later in the process, I tried to look at how I could be better at falling asleep. Same as you, I would keep rethinking the day, interactions, and freaking out about the next day. Reading about the topic, I found a simple trick that worked well for me. I would place my smart devices in a different room 40 minutes before falling asleep. I’d then go wash up and take a book/magazine/kindle. My mind would get carried away into the stories, and I’d get tired naturally.

Looking for a good book? Follow me on Goodreads

evening routine

This entire journey worked so well that a few things along the way were impacted. As I was having dinner with friends passed 10:30 pm, I started falling asleep on my chair. I believe there’s still a picture of that night somewhere…

It sounds terrible, but it was a great confirmation of my progress. I can now go to bed and be pretty sure that I’ll fall asleep. Having the consistency to create an evening routine helped me be on strong grounds for the following day.

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Matthieu Bodin

Matthieu Bodin is an entrepreneur and community builder. After 9 years in Hong Kong and Shanghai, he moved to Amsterdam with his wife and baby girl!