Have you ever gone to bed with so much on your mind that you can’t sleep? Yeah, me too. Your mind races with all of the things you could’ve done, but decided not to do. It’ll still be there in the morning even though you already have a running list of productive things to do then.
We’ve all been there. After the kids are in bed, after a long day at work, all you want to do is crash on the couch and relax. Scroll through social media for a few minutes. Watch an episode or two of a show. You might even close your eyes for a spell.
Then you go to bed and remember the dishes in the sink. The clothes and toys covering the floor. The stuff you have to do at work tomorrow. It keeps adding up and you wonder when you’re going to find time to do it all.
Our productivity is greatly affected by our mood and sleep cycle. If we’re too tired or too grumpy we’re not going to do any productive tasks. And if we do, we do it resentfully and half-ass.
Mindset is everything when it comes to increasing your productivity. Without a clear and focused mind, our to-do lists don’t seem so daunting. In fact, we tend to knock off task after task.
It’s important to go to bed feeling like you accomplished something. Even small things. This is why I’ve put together a list of five productive things to do before you go to bed. By doing this at night, you’ll wake up knowing it’s already done and you can start the day on the right foot.
Spending ten to twenty minutes on the tasks listed below guarantees a lighter load on your brain. It’s not that much time. Think of how good you’ll feel when you lay your head on the pillow. You’ll fall asleep faster and wake up with a clear head because you know those few pesky things are done.
1. Wash the dishes
There’s nothing worse than seeing a pile of dishes in the sink first thing in the morning. And since the kitchen is typically our first stop of the day — for breakfast or coffee — it’s the first thing we see.
Washing dishes is a task we dread. It’s time-consuming, mindless work. And besides, we have a dishwasher to do most of the work for us. But for those who don’t have a dishwasher and for those pieces that aren’t dishwasher safe, you’re at the mercy of cleaning them yourself.
Believe it or not, washing dishes is a great thing to do on a daily basis. Why? Because the way we view our productivity is directly linked to the way we keep our home. If you always have dishes that need washing, you’ll start to believe you’ll never get through your to-do list. You think, “If I can’t even keep up with the dishes, how am I supposed to keep up with my to-do list?”
Think of washing the dishes as a way to wash the day away. Use the time to think about what you accomplished — or didn’t accomplish — and how you want to do better tomorrow. Have a show you’re dying to watch? Grab your phone or tablet and watch it while doing the dishes.
2. Pick out your clothes for tomorrow
We all have those mornings. The alarm didn’t go off. You snoozed too many times. You’re rushing to get ready. Rummaging through your closet and drawers for something to wear. No matter how fast you dig, you’re still going to be late. And since you’re already in panic mode you’re going to automatically take longer to get ready.
One of the easiest and productive things to do at night is picking out your clothes for the next day. This will save you a ton of time in the morning. Lay out everything and I mean everything. Top, bottom, undergarments, shoes, sweaters, jackets.
Check the weather and see if you’ll need specific items like an umbrella or scarf in the morning. Do you have a meeting tomorrow? Do you plan on going to the gym after work? Get your athletic attire ready alongside your daily outfit. The more you have prepared, the faster you’ll be ready to head out the door.
Selecting your outfit the night before puts you under far less stress than if you did it in the morning. Yes, you might feel differently when you see what you laid out. If you want to change out the blue top for the red one, go for it. But don’t make it a habit. Make it a habit to pick your clothes out the night before.
3. Clear clutter from the floor
For those of you who have kids or pets, you know how messy your floor can get over the course of a single day. And it’s not just kids. I have a habit of leaving the clothes I wore during the day on the floor when I switch to comfy loungewear. I used to go to bed with clothes everywhere.
Then I made it a point to pick them up before bed. Or as soon as I took them off. If they were dirty, I tossed them in the hamper. If they were clean, I hung them up.
A clean floor is just nice to look at. It’s also safer. Less of a tripping hazard. Ever stepped on a LEGO with your bare feet in the middle of the night? Not fun.
If you find a lot of your kid’s toys nowhere near where they belong, invest in some floor baskets. Toss everything close to it inside and put it in its proper place tomorrow. Your kids may get to it before you so sometimes it won’t matter.
Clearing floor clutter is a great habit to start. Once you see how nice a clear floor is you’ll be more inclined to keep it that way.
4. Write your to-do list
Don’t trust that you’ll remember that very important task you have to do tomorrow. As soon as you think of it, write it down. I can’t stress this enough. Write. It. Down.
We’re forgetful creatures. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. There’s a lot of distraction out there. If it’s not our phone dinging and chiming, it’s our family or co-worker needing this or that. That’s why it’s important to write down a thought, a note, a task as soon as you think of it.
Compile your own list of productive things to do. Whether you use a planner or your phone, writing out tomorrow’s to-do list is one of the best ways to clear your head. This way you always have a list ready to go.
Don’t be afraid to add to it. We’re always remembering things we have to do. Consider having two lists. Label one your “Running To-Do List” or “Master To-Do List.” Keep everything you think of on there. Then have your daily to-do list. This is the stuff you want to get done that day.
Writing a to-do list takes less than five minutes. And like everything else on this list, the more you do it, the more natural it’ll become.
Meditating doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t need to download an app or find the darkest, most secluded part of your home. Meditation can be as short as three to five minutes and you can do it anywhere.
Some people prefer meditating in the morning. I prefer the evening. It’s the last thing I do before bed and it completely unwinds my brain.
The steps are simple. Find a comfortable spot in your home. Preferably somewhere where a loved one won’t bother you for the time you plan on mediating for. If you need music, Spotify has a lot of great playlists. My personal favorite is “Meditate to the Sounds of Nature.”
If you can’t get on the floor, sit on your couch or a chair. Sit as straight as possible. Rest your hands on your lap or place them in the traditional meditation position (palms up, middle finger and thumb touching).
Set a timer for three or five minutes. Silence your phone. Start the music and the timer. Now, breathe. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Listen to the music and your breathing. Ignore any other sound. Before you know it, the timer is going off and you’ve completed a short meditation.
Meditation doesn’t sound like a productive thing to do, but productivity isn’t always about crossing things off our to-do list. Besides, you can’t be your most productive self if you’re stressed, right? That’s where meditation comes into play.
It’s your choice whether to do it in the morning, afternoon, or night. Sometimes I like to meditate after I’ve completed work for the day. It’s a great way to reset my brain for the rest of the day.
That’s it. Five productive things to do before bed. A nightly routine that not only gives you a sense of productivity but clears your head. By implementing these habits on a regular basis you’ll feel less stressed as you go to bed each night and feel more rejuvenated each morning.
Now I want to know: Do you have a night-time routine that you swear by? Do you have a running list of productive things to do on a daily or even weekly basis? Hit the comments below and share them.
Want to learn more about how to boost your productivity. Check out the books I recommend on my Favorites page. They’re great resources to start with. And make sure you’re following me on Instagram where I share daily tips and inspirations about simple and intentional living.