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Wellness Articles

Getting Better At Getting To Bed

Dec 13, 2019

Getting Better At Getting To Bed


How important is it to analyze what we do at night? Is it worth it to map out a routine for the time of day where routines shouldn’t be?
The “flywheel effect” helps us find success by spinning a wheel from different points at different times to yield the best performance, with the eventual goal of having it spin on its own. The more we work on ourselves in the evening, however that may be, the more productive our mornings and days should become. But what exactly should we do in the evening to make our days better? Sheet masks and the Calm App are a fair place to start, but it’s hard for me to justify the time and money spent when every morning I wake up and my face still looks the same. There are unseen benefits of these routines, of course, but thats no fun. Disciplined evening people don’t look at emails after dinner, they go on night-walks and drink tea, maybe listen to a little jazz and wash the dishes before falling asleep. These are all great ways to spend the night, but aside from an empty sink, it’s hard to actually see the benefits. 

When you come home from a full day’s work, it’s difficult to play some music and make dinner instead of watching the Great British Bake Off while shoveling Postmates in your mouth. The act of planning something as simple as making dinner gives us something to look forward to, and that simple act of looking forward to something does wonders for our stability. We have a hard time remembering that concept, because remembering it, also requires work. When life has us down, it’s the vacation we booked 2 months from now, or a loved one visiting from far away that keeps us going. Planning these tentpole moments in our lives becomes a lot easier when we plan smaller ones every day, or, every night

We’ve reached peak morning-routine obsession, but little attention seems to be spent on analyzing our evening-routines, or at least something beyond what face serums we should use, and in what order they should be applied. A person’s morning-routine gives you enough information to form an adequate opinion about them. Their activity levels, family structure, spiritual practices. But the way a person chooses to live their life at night tells you all the characteristics about them that cut to the bone, for better or for worse. For most functioning adults, our evening-routines can begin or end whenever we feel like it, and consist of whatever we’d like them to. When you’re overloaded with an endless amount of options, it’s easy to have your wheels spin off the tracks.

If the goal of a successful morning-routine is to become more productive at work, then the goal of our evening-routines should be to become more productive at not working. Our bodies themselves aren’t too busy in the evening, but while we unwind on the couch, our brains, or least mine, start working overtime. Over the years, we get better at deflecting those thoughts and anxieties by meditating, the art of finding true clarity, to have no thoughts at all. But most of us are simply putting a band-aid on the problem, sweeping our worries under the rug until tomorrow. This would be a great plan if tomorrow didn’t come every day, or if nobody ever asked to look under your rug.

Thinking big-to-small makes sense for issues that pertain to our world as a whole, because their consequences are more catastrophic. But when working on my own self, I have better results when working small-to-big. Once I clear out the little things from my mind, I’m able to start working on bigger and more rewarding goals. The more we routinize the little stuff, the things that aren’t as important in the grand scheme of things, the more productive we can be. My morning-routine is simple, but I still have to think about it. I wake up a bit scattered, fight the urge to lay in bed looking at my phone, make coffee, catch up on emails and texts, do some exercise, etc. At the time, I don’t want to do any of it really. I make coffee with a pour over, a grinder, I measure the beans, it’s a process. I conveniently work out at home, but I still need to fill up my water bottle and find a towel, get dressed, put the little condoms on my airpods so they don’t fall out of my head while jumping rope, etc. Each time I successfully complete one these routines, I feel a little bit better about myself, and I’m able to ride that momentum throughout the day. But sometimes I don’t complete them, life gets in the way, or I talk myself out of it. If I have to think about 20 different things during my morning-routine, can I even call it a routine? If I routinize my routines the night before, will I be more likely to complete them successfully?
If we look at our evenings like the 4th quarter, then our goal should be to have the most points on the scoreboard when the final buzzer goes off. To have your team push themselves beyond their limits, to do anything it takes to win the game. A good coach doesn’t just try to win the game, they’re trying to win the whole season, so they plan ahead. When you start mastering your days, you can use evening-routines to start planning your weeks, months, and years, to give you bigger and better things to look forward to. Putting in work is the last thing we want to do before bed, but we know deep-down that we’ll thank ourselves for it tomorrow. So tonight I’ll measure out my coffee beans and put them in the grinder, make sure my favorite mug is washed and ready, pull out a filter. I’ll lay out my gym clothes, charge my airpods next to their ear-condoms, and pick out which podcast I’ll listen to while working out. One less thing to worry about, and one more thing to look forward to. I want to eventually wake up one day without my brain tangled in a ball of anxiety, bouncing from work, to relationships, to the dessert I shouldn’t have had last night. To get rid of that balled up stress, just begin to untangle it, no matter how insignificantly, the evening before. 
In a GQ interview earlier this year, Frank Ocean revealed his evening-routine. Despite being one of the more thoughtful and emotionally intelligent artists of our generation, Frank’s “life-hacks” spoke to little more than the importance of washing his face with a gentle cleanser. The 31 year old singer deflects the attention from himself by enthusiastically talking about his fellow musician and skin care idol, Pharrell. Our collective fascination with his inexplicably-perfect middle aged skin has now eclipsed that of his music. Frank openly pleads with Pharrell to “drop his skin care routine,” to give him, and his ravenous fans “the keys” to his epidermal success. Pharrell’s disappointingly coy response, a simple recommendation to exfoliate. If Frank can’t get him to drop the routine, then nobody can. I’d like to think that Pharrell hasn’t dropped his skin care routine because it’s probably no more involved than the one my girlfriend does every night. Pharrell’s skin looks great because he exfoliates, but night creams can only do so much when you’re 45. People like Pharrell and Frank are magicians, beaming with charisma and talent, lightyears ahead of the rest of us. If you ask any skin care expert, they’ll tell you the best way to prevent wrinkles is to not get them in the first place.