- Everyone these days wants to have a great start to their day so they think about installing a morning routine, but that’s not the place to start. If you want to have a great day, you actually need to start the day before with a great evening routine.
- For years I focused on my mornings, trying to join the 5:00 AM club and trying to get everything done before my kids woke up. But then I realised I was approaching things all wrong. In this episode I’ll share the evening routine that has helped set my days up for success as well as helping you construct your own.
- My evening routine contains 3 key components, captured by the acronym SD8: 1) Shutdown Ritual – Stop work at same time and plan the day ahead 2) Digital Sunset – Turn off all digital devices at least an hour before bed 3) 8 hours of Sleep – Make sure you get the sleep you need to thrive not survive.
- The equation for growth is Stress + Recovery = Growth and having a great evening routine is critical to help you with the recovery side of this equation. Without prioritising that, you won’t achieve your full potential.
Everyone these days wants to have a great start to their day. They want to be more productive and they think about installing a morning routine, but that’s not the place to start. If you want to have a great day, you actually need to start the day before with a great evening routine, because you know what happens? You get your morning routine installed. You’re waking up early. The first few days, things are going great, but then suddenly fatigue sets in and suddenly the morning routine slips, you can’t keep up with it. You start missing a day or two here and there. And suddenly a month goes by and poof, the routine is completely gone. You forgot that you were even doing it as a matter of fact, it might even take three months before it dawns on you. “Oh yeah. Maybe I should start a morning routine again” but no, you don’t want to start on a morning routine. That’s not your solution to getting a better start to your day. We have to start the day before with the evening routine.
Hi, I’m Eric Partaker and I help CEOs, entrepreneurs and individuals close that gap between who they are and who they’re capable of being by giving them practical peak performance insights that they can install in both their business and life. And on the subject of evening routines or morning routines. Let me say that this is an area in which I’m well versed because for years I focused on the morning routine, all the rage of trying to join that 5:00 AM club and wake up early and get everything done before, the kids wake up before the day starts and I kept slave in a way, hammering away trying to make that work. And I literally, as I just described earlier, got myself into a point of exhaustion.
I was more irritable. I actually wasn’t having great days. I was developing fatigue. I was running out of gas in the afternoons and it’s because, once again, I was starting in the wrong place. We need to start the night before with an evening routine. So sedate SD8. What does that stand for? So the S stands for a shutdown ritual. Too often when I’m coaching CEOs as individuals, I find that they’re not creating a proper divide between their work and their home life. And I’ve talked about this in other videos as well. So you may have already heard me describe a shutdown ritual, but if you haven’t, the way it works is, a shutdown ritual is simply a static appointment that you put in your calendar. It’s an appointment that you set with yourself, which is like the line of demarcation between your work day and your home life.
In that appointment, you just put a simple checklist. What I literally mean is you put an appointment in your calendar. You click on that appointment. And in the meeting description of that appointment, write a few bullets, create a checklist. What I suggest you do is start with a final check of your email. Then look at your calendar for the next day, update your to-do list with any action items for the day, choose your top three things that you’re going to be working on the next day, and then drop those top three things into the white space of your day. All of that is contained within your shutdown appointment, and it should take you half hour max to complete. And I would schedule that appointment to go off at the same time every day, or to begin at the same time every day, 30 minutes before you would like your day to end.
So if you’d like your workday to end at five o’clock, it’s your shutdown appointment. That means if somebody asks you for a meeting to go from 16:30 to 17:30, sorry, I’m not available. I have an appointment from 17:00 to 17:30. I could do 16:30 to 17:00, or you can find another time, but don’t disrespect that appointment with yourself. Because if you do that, you’ll never get out of the rat race. And you’ll constantly find that your work is bleeding into your home life because you’re not properly shutting down your day.
So we’ve shut down our day. What’s the next thing in our evening ritual? Well, we want a digital sunset. Why do we want a digital sunset? And that’s the D – so sedate SD8 for shutdown, D is for digital sunset. We need a digital sunset because of a small gland in the middle of our brain, the size of a pea called the pineal gland. Now that gland has many purposes, but one of them is to produce melatonin. What is melatonin? Melatonin is a substance that induces sleep and helps us sleep. Restoratively helps us sleep. Very restfully helps us sleep a full eight hours as we need to. And that melatonin production linked to that gland is linked to how much light, especially blue light, that our eyes are receiving, that is coming in through our eyes. Now, if you’re on your digital device phone or watching television to fall asleep, or you got the iPad open, if you’re on one of those devices in the one hour before you go to bed, it’s been shown to reduce your melatonin production by 50%. Why is that? Because the pineal gland sees the blue light coming in, which is the same spectrum of light that it would expect to see at the high point of the day in the sun.
And it says, well, hang on, it’s the high point of the day, stop producing melatonin. We don’t want to induce sleep. Why? Well, because inducing sleep during the day would be dangerous. You know, we want to sleep at night. We don’t want to be exposed during the day when anybody could see us, you have to think back to our ancestors and think about their evolution. That’s dangerous. It’s dangerous to sleep during the day. So the neo gland says, shut down the melatonin. It’s the high point of the day. Now this is ludicrous because it isn’t right. We’re at home. It’s not the high point of the day, but our bodies don’t know that. And without that digital sunset, the end result is that you won’t properly engage with your family, because you’ll just be stuck on your digital device.
You won’t sleep properly because you won’t have enough melatonin in your brain, which then leads to the number eight. So what do we want to get as the last part of our evening routine? eight hours of sleep? Why eight hours of sleep? Because it’s been proven to be associated with near term benefits, such as waking up the next day and feeling properly energized, and having enough gas in the tank to do whatever it is that we need to do to have the energy to work out, to have the energy to engage in whatever projects or tasks that we’re doing throughout the day. And lots of people, especially entrepreneurs and high achievers and peak performers think that, ah, now I have this special gene that allows me to survive with less than eight hours of sleep. And they are exactly right. They will survive with less than eight hours of sleep, but it’s not survival that we’re after – we want to thrive with more.
So there is a gene associated with being able to thrive with less than eight hours of sleep. And your chance of having that gene is about one in 12,000. So you don’t have the gene. I think that’s also prevalent to your chance of being struck by lightning. So unless you’ve been struck by lightning, I don’t think you have the gene. Now funnily enough, of course, all high achievers, peak performers, entrepreneurs, CEOs, those types, they all think that they have the gene. Why is that? Well, because it’s convenient; because they can justify working more. They associate that with greater productivity. But also because they’ve just become accustomed to operating at a lower baseline. So over the years they’ve lost their reference point. They don’t know what it’s like to sleep with eight hours of sleep anymore.
They become so accustomed to six, seven, and sometimes horribly five hours that they think that’s how life feels like. But yet they’re a little bit sluggish. They’re a little bit prone to irritability. They lose their focus. And when it comes to spending time with the family or with friends in the evening, they’re out of gas, and they’re not present, they’re not available. Let’s take a step back. You know, why is it that we’re trying to introduce an evening routine? Well, a lot of people are ultimately trying to string together more winning days and have better days. And that’s why a lot of people focus on the morning routine. If you remember, I said go back, start in the evening routine first. But there’s another reason to start with an evening routine or to focus on implementing an evening routine.
And it’s just to properly rejuvenate, it’s to have a better relationship with your family. It’s about being able to rest. If we look at peak performance, we don’t achieve peak performance just through stress. Stress plus recovery equals growth. If you go to the gym and if you’re just constantly stressing your muscles, and if you’re not recovering, will you grow? Of course you will. And it’s the same with your life. It’s the same with your business home, after work – that’s your chance to recover. So if you focus on that acronym, sedate shut down your day properly, have your digital sunset, so you’re not just glued to your digital devices all evening long, set that at least one hour before you’re going to go to bed such that you get eight hours of sleep, do all those things, sedate yourself, not with wine, but with a good routine. And you’ll see that it’ll start closing that gap between who you are, and who you’re capable of being. And once you’ve done that, then you can focus on installing a good morning routine because you won’t be handicapping yourself. You won’t be sabotaging your success. You’ll be primed for performance.