When Benjamin Franklin declared that failing to prepare is preparing to fail, he had no way of knowing just how amped up the modern work week would become! What he did know however, is that the more meaningful we can make our prep time, the more effective our results are likely to be.
Since it’s very possible that the way you spend your evening hours impacts how constructive you are the next day, here’s a glimpse into the nighttime routines of some recognizably productive business owners.
They prepare to make the most of the following day
Planning ahead for some means choosing their wardrobe, packing a lunch, or scoping out directions to tomorrow’s meeting. But many business owners devote at least part of their evening to preparing mentally to be more productive.
They might, for example:
- Create or review their to-do list
- Focus in on at least one thing they want to accomplish the following day to move their business forward
- Meditate, or take a moment to visualize the next day’s successes
Richard Branson has credited to-do lists as a key to his success. Just make sure you do your mental prep work early so you can unplug from all things work-related at a reasonable hour.
They give their working brains a break
Warren Buffett plays the ukulele. Marc Benioff meditates. Marissa Mayer bakes. Jack Dorsey hikes. Far from being all work and no play, accomplished entrepreneurs like these understand the value of focusing on non-business-related interests, people, and activities in their off-hours.
Not only is nighttime a great time to reconnect with the non-professional side of yourself, clearing your head with an evening stroll, hobby, or some uplifting music can give your subconscious room to work through nagging problems while you stay present in the moment.
They swap out digital pages for paper ones
Blue light issues aside, switching out your screen for a compelling book or magazine as part of your nighttime routine can:
- Help keep you from ruminating on workaday details
- Signal your brain that it’s time to start winding down
- Reduce stress, improve cognition, and stimulate creativity
Highly productive business thought leaders like Bill Gates and Arianna Huffington read books every night. Even if you don’t count yourself a bookworm, you can derive many of the same benefits by reading to your kids (or partner) at bedtime.
They reflect on the day that’s just ended
You might be surprised by how many entrepreneurs set aside dedicated time each night to write about the day’s events in a journal, or jot down the handful of happenings that:
- Made them feel good
- Inspired them
- Reminded them why they’re grateful they do what they do
According to JotForm founder Aytekin Tank, “Journaling can help you organize your thoughts, prompt reflection and generate creative ideas. These processes are critical to being a successful entrepreneur and a happier person.”
They stick to a solid sleep schedule
Oprah Winfrey’s nighttime routine doesn’t just include self-reflection (she’s reported having volumes and volumes of gratitude journals by the side of her bed), she also adheres to a healthy sleep schedule.
Making an effort to retire at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning can aid both mental and physical health – especially if you struggle with sleep. Not everyone needs the same amount of slumber. But research suggests that those who suffer from insufficient sleep show significantly worse productivity.
Remember: while there’s much to be said for modeling the daily habits of top business leaders, how you structure your nighttime hours can play an equally important role in how productive – and ultimately, how successful – you are.