While it might be super tempting to walk into the apartment, unhook your bra, and face-plant directly onto the couch with no plan for moving until the next day, there are some productive evening habits that highly successful people do that you should consider adopting. Don't worry — I'm not going to suggest you roll up your sleeves and continue on working (there is such a thing as work/life balance,) but unwinding with a full block of Seinfeld until you fall asleep might not be the best answer night after night.
While some evenings are going to call for sweatpants and Golden Girls reruns, others might have the opportunity for you to earmark a couple of hours to get ahead on your goals or build towards your career. And the great thing is, you don't need to dedicate yourself into burning the midnight oil in order to do that. It can be as easy as drafting emails while listening to your favorite podcast, or swapping the murder mystery you undwind with in bed for an industry book. Curious on what you can do this work week? Here are 11 tips on what evening habits to adopt to become successful. You might notice the change right away.
1. Listen To Your Natural Rhythms
Do you feel most productive during the morning, an hour after you made your bed? Or do you feel your most creative with a cup of coffee by your elbow and the whole house sleeping at midnight? Instead of trying to make yourself stick to a "normal" schedule, listen to your rhythms and organize tasks around your peaks and valleys.
Sallee Poinsette-Nash, Business and Brand Troubleshooter, explains in an email to Bustle, "My advice to anyone wanting to maximize their own success is to really get to know themselves — what time of day are your natural highs and lows? Ask yourself lots of questions and really get under the skin of your own productivity." That way you can accomplish more, faster. She continues, "When you know how you work best, it's easier to plan the what and the when and maximize your own progress — what time, what day, which task?" Scheduling tasks that feel most productive during the evening will help you double your progress — so pay attention to what works best for you.
2. Practice A Little Introspection
Rather than cashing in wins and sweeping failures under the rug like it's NBD, take some time during your evening to go over what went well and where you could aim to improve. Business writer Sam Thomas Davies at entrepreneur site Fast Company recommended, "Ask yourself what you did well, what you didn’t do so well, and what you can improve on tomorrow. A little introspection goes a long way." That way you're always moving forward — tomorrow you can fix any kinks in your routines and alter your action steps based on your feedback, constantly building yourself forward.
3. Throw Yourself Out Of Your Natural Environment
Fresh ideas won't come to you by surrounding yourself with what you know. Instead you have to use that time away from your desk to steep yourself in new circumstances and experiences so that your mind can fly into creative and innovative tangents. Career coach Suzanne Gelb, PhD, JD told career development site The Muse, "Author and business and creativity expert Danielle LaPorte recommends getting out of your obvious bubble: If you’re a chef, go to a museum. If you’re a painter, head to a top restaurant. Seek inspiration in unexpected places." Inspiration and clever problem-solving might lie on the other side.
4. Stay Flexible
Having an idea as to what you'd like to accomplish when you come home is great, but keep in mind that these to-do lists aren't set in stone. Poinsette-Nash shares, "Staying flexible is key, things don't always work out as you planned — maybe you planned on doing an online course after work on Thursday or had scheduled a weekend to work on your side hustle but something else cropped up. This is life and if it's something you want to do, go do it!" If, instead, you get a creative rush and want to work on something artsy (or get into a tidying mood and feel like you can tackle your files,) don't feel guilty scrapping the original plan. Poinsette-Nash points out, "Life doesn't get in the way, in fact the opposite is true — taking time to enjoy your life only inspires your work."
5. Use Your Time To Build Connections
Sure, retweeting each other's content on Twitter and sending helpful emails is great when it comes to keeping business relationships alive. But actually meeting face to face and learning more about each other and your unique industry experiences helps to forge a much stronger bond. Gelb pointed out, "The connections you make and the ideas that spring forth could change the course of your career." So use your Tuesday night off to ring up that contact and talk shop over margaritas — you never know what can come out of it.
6. Plan For The Next Day
You don't need to take out the day planner and map out every available hour for the next day, but setting up a couple of tasks to knock out of the park first thing in the morning will start you off every day with purpose. Davies advised, "Set your priorities before you get into bed so you can wake up with purpose and clarity, plan your five most important tasks for the morning." Imagine starting every day with goals accomplished, and all before you get into the office. It'll get you jazzed.
7. Make The Evening All About Positivity
Even if you missed a deadline or a particularly grumpy client or boss chewed you out mid-day, leave those bad feeling at the office and make the evening all about gratitude and progress. Business writer Jacquelyn Smith at Business Insider elaborated, "Regardless of how badly the day went, successful people typically manage to avoid that pessimistic spiral of negative self-talk because they know it will only create more stress." Going over the scene step by step will only make you more anxious and stressed for tomorrow, so leave it behind.
8. Take Good Care Of Yourself
While it could be tempting to let your ambitions take over and keep you working until you can't anymore, successful people know that folding away the to-do list and relaxing is just as important as putting in 100 percent. Gelb elaborated, "If you haven’t been taking good care of yourself — if your sleep habits are out of whack, if your nutrition is shaky, or if you’ve allowed your emotions to build up like steam in a kettle — then you’re going to have a much harder time navigating moments of stress." Make sure you earmark a couple of hours every evening to take care of your body and your mind, so you can be alert and ready to kick butt the next day.
9. Know When It's Time To Hit The Hay
Are you constantly waking up exhausted and cranky in the morning? if you're bad at sticking to a bedtime, try setting yourself an alert so the choice is out of your hands. Davies pointed out, "To get into the habit of going to bed early, try setting some reminders for yourself. You have an alarm to wake you up; why not have one to remind you to sleep?" That way you'll go to bed at a reasonable hour, and get your body into a daily rhythm and schedule.
Whether you trade in your TV time for some yoga or ask friends to attend an event with you that's way outside your points of interest, mixing up your evening routine these ways can help you grow and flourish in your career. These are small steps, but they lead to big places.
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