Some days pass by like a blur. It’s usually weekdays. On the weekends I have many more hours in the day to get things done. But on weekdays, by the time I get home from work I’m often so drained that it feels like I barely have time to eat dinner and shower before crawling into bed. Then, not only am I not being productive in the evenings, I’m also not giving myself any “me time” to recharge before heading back to work the next day.
I’ve found a few things that help me make the most of weekday evenings so I can check off all my top priorities and feel like I’m able to take a breather before my next day of work.
1. Find your peak hours. I’m much more productive and energetic in the morning, so I like to frontload my day so I am getting the most work done in the AM. Scheduling too much in the evening means it won’t usually get done, leading to an unfinished to do list and more work tomorrow. Instead of fighting that fact, I’ve adapted my routine to fit. What does this look like? I started setting my alarm earlier little by little, so now I wake up at 6:30 and can get some small chores done before leaving for work, like putting away clean dishes, cleaning up after breakfast, and taking out the trash.
2. Develop an “in-the-door routine”. When I get home from work, I don’t dump my stuff by the door or drop it on the counter. My phone and lunch containers come out of my purse, and my purse goes in the front closet. I take the containers to the kitchen, pour myself a glass of water, and pack my lunch for the next day. Then, I look through the mail. Junk gets recycled and anything important is either dealt with right away or put in a designated spot in my desk drawer with a task added to my calendar. That’s it. My whole “in-the-door routine” takes maybe 5 minutes but somehow saves me more time than if I did those tasks individually later in the night. It’s like I’m on auto-pilot when I walk through the door, so everything gets done 1-2-3. If I wait til later, I’m more tired, less motivated, and each little task requires a pep talk to get it done.
3. Meal prep. This is one of the biggest time-savers for me. Most weeks I will prep 1 recipe for lunch throughout the week and 1 recipe for dinner. (1 recipe per meal works for me since I’m feeding 1 person and most recipes make 4-6 servings. You can definitely adapt this based on how many people you’re cooking for or how much each recipe makes.) This makes packing lunch and heating up dinner super quick on weeknights, which gives me more time for the others things I’d rather be doing, because even though I enjoy cooking, I don’t like it enough to do it every night of the week. I prefer to meal prep on the weekends because I have more time and that’s usually when I grocery shop.
4. Define your top priorities. A good evening routine strikes the right balance between accomplishing all the things that you need to do and giving you some time to indulge in the things you want to do. Before I developed a good routine, I often had trouble sleeping because my mind knew there were important things that didn’t get finished, or I wanted to stay awake for just one more episode. Once I defined my top priorities that I wanted to make time for in the evening, I was able to make adjustments to my routine so I could consistently fit them all in. Mine are pretty simple: eat a healthy dinner, exercise, have time for some entertainment, and go to bed with a clean apartment. Dinner was giving me the most trouble, since I found cooking every night too much of a chore. Meal prepping solved that. Exercise was another tough one, because if I’m tired, I cop out really easily. I’ve started going to work a little earlier so that I can get home earlier, that way I’m less tired. I also have more daylight hours after work now, so on the days when I don’t want to do an intense workout in the gym, I can take a long walk outside until I hit my 10,000 steps goal. I’ve actually been really enjoying these evening walks lately, since I usually finish them right around dusk, so I get to enjoy a beautiful sunset, a podcast (which also checks off entertainment for the night), and some light activity, all of which help me unwind after a day at work. My in-the-door routine goes a long way towards keeping my apartment tidy. I basically just have to wash my dinner dishes, and that’s it for the night–I do a deep clean of my apartment on the weekends. Whatever time is left I use to take a shower or epsom salt bath, read, do a face mask, brainstorm for blog posts or videos, and probably watch a little Netflix.
How about you: Do you find weekday nights are busier than weekend nights? What’s your evening routine like? Anything you’ve done to simplify and de-stress? Please share below!
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