Tips to Establish a Morning & Evening Routine

Post written by Leo Babauta.

I’ve written before about how morning and evening routines can create some sense of sanity and calm in your life.

These are two habits that you can start today that will make a big improvement in your day.

Now, because of different things that have come up in my life, I’ve fallen a bit out of my routines. I’ve also been changing them over the last few months as my needs have changed.

So, this month, my August Challenge (read more about the Challenge below) will be to focus on re-establishing my daily routines, refined and simplified.

I’ve simplified my morning routine, to give myself more of a sense of calm. Lately I’ve also fallen into the trap of doing email in the morning, which I know isn’t good. So I’m cutting that out.

Here’s my new morning routine:

Morning routine

In the evenings, I want to get ready for the next day, log in my Challenge progress on the forum, and do a one-sentence journal reflecting on my day before winding down for bed.

Evening routine

Establishing routines
It might sound easy to establish routines like the ones listed above, but it’s just as easy to fall out of them. You want to make them a habit that will stick.

The key steps to establishing routines are to:

  1. Focus on them. Keep your routine as your foremost goal for one month, focusing on nothing else. Having too many habits at once spreads your focus too thin, and makes success less likely.
  2. Make them rewarding. I’ve written about establishing a calming routine, and that’s what I’m doing with these two routines. In the morning, I have running, coffee, reading, writing, and showering as part of my calming routine. In the evening, I quietly prepare for the next day, review my day, shower and read. They’re both very satisfying routines.
  3. Log your progress. Reporting your progress every day on the Zen Habits forum is a great way to log progress, but you could also do it in a journal or some other type of log, or put up stars on a calendar. The key is to keep track of it and see how well you’ve done over the course of a month.

I will be gradually getting into the morning routine, for a couple of reasons: 1) I have been waking at 5:00 a.m. recently, which means I need to transition to a 4:00 a.m. wake-up time; and 2) I’ve been exercising in the evening lately, which means I need to re-learn the habit of morning exercise (which I know can be very rewarding).