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Rebecca Lynn Bologna |

If you Google “morning routine”, you will receive around 20 million results in less than 62 seconds. Morning routines create productive days and happier people. They allow the busy mom to meet her deadlines or the CEO to prepare for the day filled with meetings, yet they both make it home for dinner.

But having a strong morning routine is only half the equation. A strong morning routine starts with having a strong evening routine.

A Powerful Evening Blasts off Your Morning

Benjamin Franklin has famously asked himself each evening,

“What good have I done today? What good shall I do this day?”

There is something romantic about being a night owl but studies have shown that the success comes from going to bed early

By asking himself these two questions, Benjamin Franklin could reflect on what worked and what did not work. He could reflect in gratitude and saw his accomplishments and then set himself up for success the first thing in the morning.

Read more: The jeopardy of taking others’ opinions seriously

In fact, these are the two characteristics of having a strong evening routine:

  • Reflecting and winding down for the day.
  • Creating a follow-up plan for tomorrow.

An evening routine like this helps you focus on the positive outcomes and it also helps you wind down from the day. You are able to shut your electronics and your mind off.

You know exactly what you are working on tomorrow and you can let your subconscious mind take over to problem solve for you while you sleep.

The Evening Routine of Successful People

When we look at successful people like Benjamin Franklin, Arianna Huffington and even Ludwig Van Beethoven we can see that going to bed early and waking up earlier was key to their success.

They were up and working on their careers before the world started around them. This freed up their minds to focus on what truly matters and they could take action each and everyday toward their goals.

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It is with this consistency in a routine that they were able to reach success.

It is what you do in the evenings that also matter. For example, reading a book and shutting down electronics, or spending time with family and in gratitude

Arianna Huffington sips tea, takes a bath and doesn’t allow electronics in the room at night. She is very methodical in her routine. This routine allows her body to shut down and focus on what matters—sleep. She discusses this in depth in her book The Sleep Revolution.

Ludwig Van Beethoven was in bed by 10 pm each night allowing himself to wake up and get right to work on his art.

An Unnoticeable Change with a Significant Result

Creating an evening routine is about changing habits.

When I started an evening routine, I went from staying up late (11 pm) and eating pints of ice cream because my kids were finally asleep, to go to bed at 9 pm and not eating past 6:30 pm. It was a drastic change but it didn’t happen overnight. In fact, I started with one simple shift and added more over time.

Often, we want to bite off more than we can chew and will never reach our goals. I knew that by changing my habits I could build an evening routine for myself that would allow me to reach my definition of success.

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I started with going to bed earlier, this required me to shut off electronics sooner and pick up a book. I then shifted my meals naturally and even stopped drinking caffeine at 11 am each day.

This became a natural domino effect. Having an evening routine can change the structure of your day. It opens up a lot of space for you to take action instead of sitting back and letting life pass you by.

Having an evening routine can change the structure of your day. It opens up a lot of space for you to take action instead of sitting back and letting life pass you by

Anytime I wanted to fall back on old habits, I would connect to the benefits of change and would look at the success of others and remind myself that it was their routines that gave them the space to change the world. If you look for tricks to prevent yourself from falling back on bad habits, read this: How to Program Your Mind to Kick the Bad Habit

Start Small and Start Simple

Your evening routine doesn’t have to be complicated and extreme. Each step in the right direction gets you closer to success.

There is something romantic about being a night owl but studies have shown that the success comes from going to bed early. Yet, it isn’t just about going to bed early, it is what you do in the evenings that also matter. For example, reading a book and shutting down electronics, or spending time with family and in gratitude.

Read more: The maid’s culture and its harmful effects

If you are ready to get more done and see success start with your evening routine, follow these steps:

  1. Go to bed and wake up early (and at the same time) everyday.
  2. Shut down the electronics at least an hour before bed, and read or spend time with family.
  3. Reflect on what worked and what did not work every night.
  4. Create your plan for the next morning.
  5. Hit the pillow.

These five steps will help you wind down and allow your mind to make the shift to bedtime. You can let your subconscious mind work on the plans the next morning while you get a good night’s sleep.

Evening routines give you the structure to build better habits and better habits create success.

The article originally appeared on lifehack.org

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