BY SAM THOMAS DAVIES
If you Google "morning routine," you’ll receive more than 24 million search results, and for good reason: Early risers seem to get more done and live happier lives.
Some of the most successful entrepreneurs understand the benefits of having an early-morning routine: Starbucks’s Howard Schultz, GE’s Jeff Immelt, and Xerox’s Ursula Burns are just some of the early birds famous for rising before 6 a.m. to get ahead on their work.
But a morning routine is only half of a productive day; the other is the evening routine that precedes it.
Here are seven evening routines of famous and successful creatives, and how you can apply them to your own life.
SWEDISH DIRECTOR INGMAR BERGMAN READ BEFORE BED
"Do you know what moviemaking is? Eight hours of hard work each day to get three minutes of film," explained Ingmar Bergman in a 1964 interview. When he wasn’t working eight hours suffering for his art, the director would spend his evenings reading, seeing friends, or watching TV or a movie from his large collection.
One study by the University of Sussex found that just six minutes of reading a day is enough to reduce stress by 68%—an excellent excuse to start curling up with a good book before you turn in for the evening.
COMPOSER LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN WENT TO BED EARLY
Ludwig Van Beethoven rarely worked on his music in the evening. In fact, this famous and influential composer and pianist often retired early, going to bed at 10 p.m. at the latest. He was able to optimize his early-morning routine because he got his recommended seven to nine hours of sleep the night before.
To get into the habit of going to bed early, try setting some reminders for yourself. You have an alarm to wake you up; why not have one to remind you to sleep?
PSYCHOTHERAPIST CARL JUNG ENJOYED FAMILY MEALTIME
Carl Jung wrote, "I’ve realized that somebody who’s tired and needs a rest, and goes on working all the same, is a fool," which is ironic considering he was a workaholic.
But despite his tendencies to work long hours, Jung wasn’t a stranger at home; in the evenings, he enjoyed preparing large meals and eating with his family.
Jung, a famous psychiatrist and psychotherapist whose influence on popular psychology is immense, emphasized the importance of quality family time and eating a healthy evening meal.
The next time you think you’re too busy, resist the urge to skip dinner with the family.
INVENTOR AND FOUNDING FATHER BENJAMIN FRANKLIN EXAMINED HIS DAY
A jack-of-all-trades, Benjamin Franklin was famous for his scheme to achieve "moral perfection," a goal that often eluded him due to his busy schedule. But every evening, before retiring at midnight, he would reflect on his day and ask himself: "What good have I done today?"
You, too, can examine your day. Ask yourself what you did well, what you didn’t do so well, and what you can improve on tomorrow. A little introspection goes a long way.
AUTHOR JANE AUSTEN SOUGHT FEEDBACK
Famous for Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen was surprisingly productive given her busy home life. When she wasn’t writing critically acclaimed books, she would spend her evenings reading aloud her works in progress to her family.
Even if you’re not an artist, a creative, or an entrepreneur, it’s important to have a side project to work on in the evenings—and to ask for feedback. This will help you recover from a stressful day and improve your work.
WRITER HENRY JAMES PLANNED OUT HIS MORNING
A key figure in 19th century literary writing, Henry James was consistent in his craft, writing every day for most of his life. After dinner, he would spend the evening making notes for the next day’s work.
To set your priorities before you get into bed so you can wake up with purpose and clarity, plan your five most important tasks for the morning.
AUTHOR SIR KINGSLEY AMIS STOPPED WHILE HE WAS AHEAD
Like many famous writers, Sir Kingsley Amis would always make sure to stop writing when he knew what would come next. This made it easier to begin the next day since he could pick up where he left off the previous evening.
Make your own morning routine as easy to start as possible by minimizing resistance. Do you want to run in the morning? Lay out your running clothes the night before. Eating breakfast is easy when you prep in the evening. And as for waking up? Do yourself a favor and hit the hay before midnight.
Having an evening routine sets a precedent for your morning routine. You wake up, feel productive, and get more done. If you look after your evenings, your mornings take care of themselves.
—Sam Thomas Davies is a behavioral specialist who shows you how you can harness science to break bad habits, form good ones that stick, and overcome resistance to change. To learn how to seize the potential of your life, read his free eBook.