Recently I have been practicing the evening routine every night before going to sleep. This 45 minutes routine every night includes 4 habits: reading a book, writing a to-do list for the next day, meditation, and writing a gratitude list for the day. Even though sometimes I skipped it, but in general I found this new routine really helpful in keeping me sane, especially when I had a lousy day or a bad mood. I use Fabulous application in my mobile phone to help me keeping track of this routine, but I believe there are other habit management applications out there that you can choose.
Among the above four habits, I am relatively consistent in reading a book. It is my comfort zone when I am not mood in doing anything. I can extend my time in reading a book to 1-2 hours a night. The problem is I have too many books I want to read that I get difficulty in choosing which one to read first. In that case, the books I read can be different each day based on my preference at that time. Currently, I am in the mood of motivational readings. Since they are not novels/fiction, I can stop reading them anywhere before the books’ end, and start again in the middle. My current readings are Search Inside Yourself by Chade-Meng Tan, Whatcha Gonna Do With That Duck by Seth Godin, and Mrs. Moneypenny’s Career Advice for Ambitious Women by Heather McGregor.
Moreover, the to-do list habit is also easy. Since I am a planning person, I can write as many tasks with details if I want. However, the implementation of those plans is difficult. For example, at night I was excited to write a blog post for a certain topic so I put it as a to-do list for tomorrow, but the next day I was not in the mood to write it anymore and my procrastination was creeping in. After a few days, I learned that the best approach was to keep the list with 3 actions only. Although I have a lot of projects and things to do in my mind, I had to minimize them so I wouldn’t be too overwhelmed and just do it! Keep it simple. Finishing 3 tasks out of 3 feels more satisfied than 4 out of 10 (but I’m not sure you can do those 4 tasks effectively).
The next habit is also helpful in motivating me to be productive: meditation. That is why I do not only practice it at night but also whenever I do not feel like doing anything at all, especially during commuting in the taxi. When it is difficult to do silent meditation, the guided one is very convenient. My favorites are Meditation Minis by Chel Hamilton and Tune Into You by Jennifer Davoust in Google Podcasts. When listening to one episode (13-15 minutes) was not enough, I played several episodes until I felt satisfied and calm. I read that many successful people doing mindfulness in their life (Amen!). I also considered my regular 5 times a day prayer (Sholat) is a form of mindfulness as well.
The last habit of my evening routine is the gratitude list. Sometimes I skipped this step, partly because I had difficulty in finding what I was grateful for the day. It is so hard to think of any good event that happened in my life lately. The one that I kept repeating was “thank you for the nice foods I ate today”. I might be too overthinking it, and last week I got a precious lesson about this from my 5-year-old daughter. That night when we were about to sleep, my kid was suddenly singing a Thank You song she learned from a children’s TV show. I guess it’s for the ending of the show where the hosts started thanking everyone. The lyric was too simple, “Thank you, thank you, thank you, everyone”. But my kid changed the lyric to thank me before going to bed, “thank you for accompanying me to sleep, thank you for reading me books, thank you for hugging me.” That was so sincere and making my heart melted. Earlier that day I brought her to a mall near our house where she played in a large playground, ate her favorite snacks and I bought her one pretty unicorn dress. It was a rare thing. Meanwhile, what she mentioned above… they’re all regular things that I almost did every night, yet she still considered them precious and memorable things to be thankful (more than our big day in the mall). Why I was too overthinking to be grateful? Why wasn’t it so simple like “I’m grateful for spending time with my kid and my husband in our tiny house”? Being grateful is like seeing the world. Sometimes you have to look from the children’s eyes to appreciate the little things in life.
That was my best bedtime routine: writing a thankful list for the day, writing a to-do list for the next day, meditation, and reading a book. Reading and meditation can make us sleepy easier, so make sure they are performed in the end after gratitude list, to-do list or other healthy habits you are interested to do before sleep. A good night’s sleep will help us to wake up fresh and be productive at works the next day.