Here's the top three things that works for me to do in the evening for a good night's sleep:
1. WRITE DOWN MY TODOS
I just write down all my thoughts and ideas in a sheet of paper or a OneNote page about what needs to be done.
This helps me to clear my mind, instead of worrying about what needs to be done, or trying to remember.
Often, I discover that I have written down the same thing that was already on my list. Still, somehow, writing it down helps my mind to feel reassured that it will be taken care of.
Sometimes, I just write down all my random thoughts about issues that come to my mind. Like e-mails that I want to send, and the sentences keep coming formulating in my head. I just write down those draft ideas.
Or when I will have an important discussion, what would be a good argument, I write these also down.
The minimum for this habit, to stay on track, is to write down one item for my task list.
2. PREPARE MY BAG FOR THE MORNING
Packing my bag helps my mind to stop spinning about what I will do in the morning, what needs to be remembered.
And it helps me to gain a few minutes for the morning, too.
Also, often I find that something is missing, or needs some "extra effort".
And it is easy to add 5-10 minutes in the evening to make that happen, while in the morning it would into my commuting time, trying to get to work faster, being stressed on the road, and so on.
I collect my healthy snacks (so I don't make trips to the vending machine).
I make a presentation, I check that I have all the dongles and connectors that I might need. Or maybe I want to bring a book to show to the audience.
When I will ride a longer distance by bike, I need an extra snack or a different clothing.
I also found that this helps me prevent further "errors" next day. Since I prepare my bag, it never happened that I forget my badge, which would cost an extra 5-10 min at the entrance, depending how busy the security guards are, and a lot of inconvenience during the day going in and out of the building.
The minimum action for this habit is to pack my water bottle, filled with water.
This way I will have it with me for sure and have water during my first meeting.
I tried carrying it empty, and fill it up at work, but sometimes I forget to fill it up, or I go to a different location where there is no possibility to fill it up, so now I default to filling it up.
3. CLEAN UP A BIT MY DESK
To wind down, I like to do some activities that don't need much thinking and are helpful. I was experimenting with a couple of "low mental effort" tasks, and I found this one is an optimal task.
I don't aim to clean up my desk completely, I just aim to make it better a little bit, a few items.
Sometimes, I make a "full go" when I have the energy, but it is not the purpose.
The minimum for this habit is to range 1 item.
I have the energy to arrange 1 item all the time.
There are other things I wish I would do in the evening, like meditation.
I tried it many times, but I am just too tired to focus.
In the morning, I can do meditation easily.
Maybe later I will develop this habit, too, to meditate before going to bed.
I know many people who do, and they say it's great for them.
Why all these routines?
After many years of developing healthy habits, I still find that it all starts with a good sleep.
Without a good rest, I am tired during the day, have less willpower for exercise, snack more, focus less on whatever I am doing.
While it is easy to forget about it, as a good sleep has not much of a spectacular effect, no big rewards, and doing more than I actually need doesn't bring extra benefits.
For me, one of the components for a good sleep is to have a good evening routine, which root from the advice from Nick Littlehales, "Sleep". He suggestshaving an evening wind down cycle of 90 minutes, to prepare for the night, and gradually lower the energy level.
See my blog here about the book:
And here's a vlog I found interesting:
How to Actually Go to Bed on Time
What do you do in the evening before going to bed?