on the evening routine

i talk and think about routines and habits often. sometimes i wonder if i go too far with it sometimes (and have been overtaken by the western enlightenment gods of maximization and optimization and infinitetesimal division of reality (including into time - i.e. seconds, milliseconds, etc.)). but mostly, i feel good about it. nature has cycles and routines and patterns and rhythms, as we are nature, so should we. and, given our consciousness, there’s no reason to not take apply to something we know is natural.

so on that point, i want to discuss my evening routine.

in effect, my evening routine helps me do two things: it helps with decision fatigue for the next day and it creates a little sense of flow that helps me wind down.

on decision fatigue

i’ve written about decisions and decision-fatigue, but here’s a rundown: every decision you make takes energy. and, contrary to popular understanding but absolutely common in terms of personal experience, you only have so much decision-making capacity each day. once you use it up, it either (a) becomes difficult to make decisions (think of the end of the work slog versus the morning) or (b) often happens that poor decisions get made. additionally, some decisions take only a little energy to make or have little consequence, while others need a lot of energy and/or have significant consequence.

basically, any decisions you can take out of one day increases the amount of energy you have to make. so my current evening routine:

helps me because there are several things i think about the night before that i don’t have to think about when i wake up. not only does this allow me to just get moving and into work as quickly as possible so i can start using my good thinking energy, but it allows me to not overthink things (like what clothes to wear).

on evening “flow”

flow isn’t exactly the right now, but having an evening routine helps my brain and body start getting ready for bed long before i get into bed. now that i have a routine and rhythm around getting ready for the next day, as soon as i start reviewing my schedule for tomorrow, my body starts to slow down. i can feel it.

i also have started turning off my overhead light in my room and just using my sidetable lamp and i think that helps, too. i also use the night shift on my iphone and i use f.lux on my computer (though sometimes i cave and disable it for an hour if i actually need to read or look at something) and i think those help as well.

anyway, by the time i’m in actually bed, my body is so ready for sleep that i’m only conscious for 2-3 minutes.

now, do i always do my evening routine? of course not. do i do it as often as i can? definitely. and do i notice an improvement in the next day when i do? absolutely. this is the feedback loop that encourages me to continue trying to increase the regularly at which i do it.

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