Nighttime can be your best friend or your worst enemy. It’s easy to waste our post-dinner hours with mindless activities, such as Netflix or with (most) social media. Although those things can be beneficial in small doses, they don’t prepare us for the next day in a productive way. Instead, try these four things to prepare your body and mind for a new day and allow your brain to truly rest and recharge during the night.

  1. Unplug.

Multiple studies have shown that the harsh blue light emitted by cell phones, tablets and laptops suppresses the natural melatonin our body produces for healthy sleep. This isn’t new research and yet people still struggle with sleep after staring at these screens for 14-plus hours per day. Experts say we should give our bodies at least two hours to recover from blue light exposure. Commit to putting your phone away after dinner and not checking it until the morning. You’ll sleep better and most likely be less stressed because you won’t constantly be connected to your email, texts and social media.

  1. Plan for Tomorrow.

This is more than mentally knowing what’s on your to-do list for the next day. Try actually laying out everything you’ll need to be prepared tomorrow. This includes your work outfit, gym outfit, presentations or meetings documents, lunch if you work in an office and an errand list if need be. Don’t start your day by rushing around looking for keys and wherever you put that report that’s due today. Use that time to mentally prepare for the day. Enjoy a cup of coffee or tea and allow your body to wake up slowly, naturally and stress-free. You’ll be amazed at your boosted mood throughout the day.

  1. Prioritize Your To-Do List

First, identify the items on your to-do list that you’re most likely to procrastinate. Put those items at the top of your list to tackle in the morning. By visually writing and seeing them at the top of the list will remind your brain throughout the night of their priority. Second, if you have particularly unfavorable tasks on your list, break them down into more manageable tasks. This will make you less likely to procrastinate in the morning and more likely to feel a boost of confidence with each small to-do list.

The importance of planning your next day at night can’t be overstated. Often our brains subconsciously “worry” about things that haven’t been categorized and “assigned” to other parts of the brain. By writing out your tasks and assigning a level of importance to each one, you allow your brain to not feel the need to “hold” those tasks anymore. Let your brain get a well-deserved rest at night.

  1. Relax.

This is especially important the night before a big meeting, project or presentation. You’re already prepared, so re-reading all your documents is only going to keep your brain working too hard. Instead, take a long bath (if bath’s are your thing), play some relaxing music and read your favorite book. Allow your mind to sift through random thoughts and don’t force it to do too much work. Some of the greatest athletes say their night-before routine is just as important as the months of preceding training. The worst thing you can do is to continue stressing about the next day.

Final Thought

If you want to make the big bucks, you must focus on your life holistically. Work must be purposeful in order for you to be successful – and so must everything else.

William Lipovsky owns the personal finance website First Quarter Finance. His most embarrassing moment was telling a Microsoft executive, "I'll just Google it."

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