If you’ve read our previous post on becoming “Super-Productive“, you’ll know there’s little things we can do everyday to increase our chances of having a successful tomorrow. Now, we’re breaking it down even further and are examining 8 habits successful people perform just before going to bed. Why? Because it can’t hurt to know Barak Obama, Bill Gates and Stephen King’s nightly life-hacks.
This is probably the number one thing we all know that we should do but in reality have a hard time actually doing it. Turning off everything that connects us to the outside world is a great way to relax and unwind before bed. You won’t be getting any emails, text messages, phone calls or push messages to distract you from getting a great nights sleep. Even the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, “reluctantly” shuts off her phone at night to make sure she gets all the rest she can.
Not only does unplugging before you go to bed keep you from getting interrupted, but studies have shown that using your bed for anything (working, eating etc.) other than sleeping or sex will make it a much harder place for you to relax. On top of that, other studies have shown that the blue light emitted from laptops, phones and tablets mimics natural sunlight which can interfere with your body’s production of melatonin, the sleep hormone, making it harder for you to get a deep, restful sleep. Try to give yourself an hour (or at least half an hour) between using your laptop or phone and the time you’re ready to go to sleep. You can use that time to do one of the other things on this list!
2. SPEND TIME WITH FAMILY & FRIENDS
Truly successful people know it’s essential to spend time with those you love and create genuine and deep connections. Taking time after work to spend time with your family or friends without any distractions will keep your relationships strong and you more relaxed and happy. Even if you’re having one of those days and don’t feel like spending time with anyone, spending time with a pet can have the same beneficial effects (good news introverts!).
3. PLAN TOMORROW
For some, this may sound counterintuitive. If you’re trying to unwind from your day, why would you want to think about what tomorrow may have in store?! Oddly enough, it can actually be a big help to ensuring your day runs smoothly and you’re prepared for anything. Think about it. You get up in the morning after hitting snooze 5 times and you’re going to be late. Would you rather have everything set up and ready to go (clothes set out and ironed, breakfast made, coffee brewing) or spend your only 20 minutes searching for that one shirt you want to wear today that you’ll probably find in a wrinkled heap on the floor? Yep. That’s what I thought. Taking a little extra time at night to pre-make your breakfast or lunch, choose your clothes or set your coffee maker to brew at a certain time can make a big difference in how you perceive the rest of your day, either calm, cool and collected or rushed, frantic and overwhelmed.
4. MAKE A TO-DO LIST
Making a to-do list coincides with planning your day, but in more detail. Do you have an important meeting to attend? Maybe you have to take your kids to the dentist and the dog to the vet? Making a to-do list can help you figure out which things are most important and which need to be done first. This creates an outline for your day that you can check off as you go along (which always feels really good) and also helps get the things you didn’t do today off of your mind. Even Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express, likes to write down three things he wants to accomplish the next day every night before he goes to bed, and clearly, he’s successful.
5. HAVE A NIGHTLY RITUAL
Having a nightly ritual or routine will help calm your mind and get your body ready for sleep. Even the simplest tasks like brushing your teeth or having a shower can signal to your brain that you are getting ready for bed and it’s time to relax. Your routine can be as simple or as complex as you want, for example Stephen King brushes his teeth, washes his hands (why? He doesn’t know.) and makes sure all his pillows are facing the same direction. Alternatively, Benjamin Franklin wrote down all the “good” he did that day. But to be safe, if you’re starting from ground zero on this one, maybe just start with brushing your teeth.
Here’s another one you’ve probably heard a lot. Many experts agree that reading is one of the best things you can do before going to bed. Super successful people like Barak Obama, Bill Gates and Arianna Huffington have all said that they read at least a half hour before going to sleep. Many people see this as a “non-negotiable” and will devote an hour to reading no matter what time they get home or go to bed. Keep in mind, this works best if you’re reading a real book. No Kindles, Kobo’s or iPads allowed.
Meditating can mean different things to different people but essentially it’s just taking some time to relax your mind and calm your thoughts without distractions. If you’re a seasoned meditator, you can take 10-30 minutes to just be with your thoughts and unwind. If you’re newer to the meditation process there are lots of handy little apps available now for guided relaxation. Some of our favourites include HeadSpace, Calm or alternatively you could listen to a book being read using Audible. Anything that relaxes your body and calms your mind will work great, just make sure all your other notifications are turned to silent on your phone!
8. PICTURE TOMORROWS SUCCESS
What does tomorrow look like? Taking some time every night while your drifting off to sleep to envision a great tomorrow can make a big difference. Thinking about your days tasks, who you will talk to, and what you will do in a positive manner will make you feel more confidant and ready to take on the day. However, you can’t under any circumstances think about how horrible your day could end up tomorrow. That can have the opposite effect on your confidence and make for a real crappy day.
If you only take one thing away from this article I hope it’s to stop working at least an hour before going to bed! Give yourself the time to unwind, relax and get a good nights sleep, because if it can work for someone who runs an entire country, it can probably work for you too.