This is the third post in the series of Daily Habits, which is about a listing of useful habits that should be a part of a productive person’s daily routine. To read, you can start here.
Nothing exists in isolation and everything has a tail at the start and the end. A smooth trip, for example, involves a lot of planning and careful packing beforehand. Similarly, a productive day cannot happen in isolation and requires planning and preparation a night before.
Many psychologists believe that willpower is like a muscle. With more use, it gets fatigued like other muscles in our body. Every new decision can have an effect of another round of exercise. Therefore, as we make more decisions during a day, the strength of our willpower gets depleted as a result of decision fatigue. Many other psychologists, however, disagree with this resource model of the willpower.
Regardless of which theory is true, one thing is sure that the more we are prepared for the morning, the easy it is for us to quickly start our morning routine. That morning routine will be the subject of a later post. The important point here is to remember that it starts with a helpful evening routine.
To have a lesser number of willpower transactions, what are the tasks that can be completed a night before and hence eliminated entirely from today?
- Sleeping time: This is simple. To constantly work towards something, one has to wake up at the same time every week day. To wake up at the same time, it is best to have a fixed time to go to bed. Subtract around 8 hours from your waking time and start your evening routine, say, 15 minutes before that time.
- Clothes: Decide about your clothes the night before. It can either be just in the form of a decision, or you can actually put them at your changing place. Although it does not seem so, it is incredibly powerful to flow into a morning routine when there is no decision involved about what to wear. Many successful people in fact make it even easier by wearing the same clothes every single day. Steve Jobs was known for wearing blue jeans and a black turtleneck everyday. Mark Zuckerberg was asked why he wore the same gray T-shirt every day? His response was that it is just not something he wants to waste energy on. “I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community,” he said. According to the same article, Dean Kamen (the inventor of Segway) and Christopher Nolan (director and producer) are some others who follow a similar strategy.
- Daily goals: In the beginning, we talked about big life defining goals. For their actual realization, every big goal must be broken down into smaller goals up to a point where it is clear what needs to be done the next day. Write these day’s goals down in your journal or note taking app. Having known exactly what you are going to start working on tomorrow relaxes the mind, results in better sleep quality and prompts you to wake up eager and fresher.
- Minor tasks: Other minor tasks such as what to eat for breakfast, important meetings and events can also be decided in the night for the same purpose.
In summary, the first good habit for an energetic and productive day is to implement a consistent sleeping time and a bedtime routine that involves preparing clothes, deciding about the day’s goals and scheduling.