Yesterday I shared that my daily routine that begins with The Morning Miracle. Today I wanted to go into more depth about my evening routine. It’s not as well established as my morning routine and subject to more unpredictability and yet I feel good about the consistency I’ve achieve and the things I’m learning.

My evening routine is mixture of getting ready for the next day and wrapping up the current day. If everything goes well, below are the perfectly executed steps.

Ready For Tomorrow (5 to 10 Minutes)

  1. Coffee pot is on the counter in the kitchen and ready to brew at the flip of the switch–coffee cup at the ready.
  2. Two 22 oz water bottles are filled and one of them stands in the way of the first thing I will do when I wake up so I remember to drink the whole thing.
  3. Clothes for tomorrow are laid out. This is pretty easy since I don’t go to an office and I’m not a fashion plate. Sometimes I set out both my regular clothes and all my winter walking gear (rain pants, jacket, rain hat, safety vest, waterproof shoes, etc.).

Daily Recap and Review (10 to 20 Minutes)

Then I do my “daily recap” by writing in my journal. I keep a running text document and I like to write with Vim (text editor). For a non-coder I’m pretty fast with it. I love that my fingers never leave the keyboard. In my journal I copy/paste a block of text that looks like this and then fill in the answers, often formatted as bullets:

— Things I achieved today, even the smallest accomplishments

— What things did I fail at or was not the best version of myself?

— What did I really love doing?

— What did I really not like doing?

— What are some things I learned today (positive or negative) that I can carry forward to live a better tomorrow

— What am I thankful for?

— What questions are rattling around in my head that I don’t have answers to? Write them down. Magic happens later.

Hints of the divine:
— What happened in my day that seems bigger than myself or the ordered world? Things that are perhaps not explainable?

What good did I do today?
— What things did I do today that helped someone or made the world better?

It looks like a  long list of questions, but after doing them for 30+ days it feels like I’m able to answer them a little faster each time. I don’t worry about complete sentences, just simple bullets as they come to mind. This usually takes 10 to 15 minutes. If something significant happened that I want to reflect on I am might a few paragraphs reflecting it that or sorting it out.

One important thing I’ve learned about this part of the day is to plan ahead a little and anticipate evenings when I won’t be home or have other plans. In those cases, I’ve learned from past failures to do it late afternoon or before going out. Even if I’m not going out, but know I might be spending time with my wife, that’s also a good reason to get it done earlier.

Affirmations and Wind Down (5 Minutes)

Then I park my laptop and hook it up to power for a full charge, aim the space heater at the chair I’ll sit in tomorrow, and grab some documents in protective plastic sleeves. Right now these documents consist of:

  1. Evening affirmation
  2. A list of my values
  3. My mission statement
  4. My goals
  5. Affirmation about my work

I’ll settle into bed and read the evening affirmation to myself or out loud and then casually scan the other documents, stopping to reflect on words and sentences that jump out at me. Sometimes I’ll quiz myself on how well I lived certain aspects of what’s written down or if I’m in alignment with what I believe and know is important to me.

Part of the evening affirmation includes reminding myself that I’ve decided in advance what I will work on when I wake up. This is usually a good reminder to be very clear and specific about what that will be. It often makes it easier to jump into things when I wake up because there’s nothing to ponder or decide.

Little Habits Over Time

Looking at all of this it looks like I spend my whole evening ending the day and getting ready for tomorrow. This process has evolved over the past six months or so, adding a little bit at a time. Little habits at a time that are so routine now, I hardly think about them as I do them. This truly is the beauty of simple, established habits. They are like automatic reflexes.

What’s your evening routine? What have you found works really well for you?