If you were to ask any of my friends about me, I’d like to think that they’d have a lot of nice things to say. They might describe me as friendly, laid-back, and down for a good time. They may mention that I am in a committed relationship with McDonald’s chicken nuggets. They might label me as a “good listener” or a “good friend.” They might give accolades to my ability to send highly relatable memes to their DMs at any point in the day. One thing they most definitely wouldn’t say about me? That I am a morning person.
I have a reputation amongst my friends and family to prioritize sleeping in over most things in life. I have an affinity for hitting my snooze button anywhere from four to nine times a morning (I wish that was an exaggeration). If you speak to me before my morning coffee, there’s a 99 percent chance that what you said did not register. No matter how many tips and tricks that I’ve tried in my efforts to become a morning person, I just can’t hang before 10am. At this point, I’ve come to accept who I am: a night owl who would rather get shit done in the evening than during the morning.
PSA: You don’t have to be a morning person to live a healthy, productive life. I’ve felt guilty for “failing” at morning routines for far too long, but after curating an evening routine that fits my peak energy time and makes me feel like a superhero, I’d like to argue that night owls are just as badass as the humans who work out, clean, meal prep, meditate, and do a 57-step skincare routine before they log on for work. The early bird gets the worm, but the worm that sleeps in doesn’t get eaten, am I right?
Here are the eight habits that have made my evenings productive and have helped me to embrace the fact that I am, in fact, a night owl:
1. Work out right after work
I truly cannot count the number of times that I’ve set my alarm two hours early to workout and decided, in the early hours of the morning, that REM sleep is cooler than squats. I’ve found that, as with most things, my workouts are most productive after a workday when I’ve used the day to hydrate and I’ve consumed at least two meals. While the idea of a late-night workout excites me, I try to exercise before dinner so that it’s easier for me to wind down afterward. Right now, I’ll do an at-home workout or go for a one to three-mile run, and I’ll opt to work out outside so that I can get some fresh air.
2. Listen to a podcast while cooking dinner
I used to hate cooking until stay-at-home orders hit. When I realized that I simply could not afford using Grubhub or Doordash every night, I bought Tieghan Gerard’s Half Baked Harvest Super Simple Cookbook to turn my life around. For dinner, I grab my fav glass of vino, pick a recipe to whip up, and listen to my favorite podcast. Typically I’ll opt for a recipe that I can cook for one and save for dinner for the next few days. Dinner: done. Meal prep: done. Getting the pop culture tea: done.
3. Tidy up my living space
The dinnertime productivity hack that absolutely changed my life is making an effort to clean up my kitchen messes as I’m cooking. It sounds so simple, but as we all have experienced at one point or another, there’s nothing worse than staring at dirty cookware and dishes after eating and slipping into a food coma. Tidying up as I go makes doing the remaining dishes after dinner so much more tolerable. After rinsing my remaining dishes and popping them into the dishwasher, I do a quick tidy-up of the rest of my living space (I save deep cleaning for the weekend when I have more time to do that sort of thing).
4. Take a relaxing bath
Why has it taken me so long to get on board with taking baths? My bath time is my me time, and those 30 minutes help me to wind down after power cleaning. Am I sweating from bending over to pick up all of my clutter from my last outfit crisis? Probably. Should I get that checked out by a doctor or, at the very least, up my cardio game? Also, probably. While I’m soaking, I like to call a friend, read an excerpt from my latest and greatest book obsession, or catch up on my IG feed. I light my favorite candle, dim the lights, and play some Mumford & Sons radio to set the mood.
5. Plan out tomorrow’s outfit
Somewhere along the way on my journey from third grade to adulthood, I lost sight of the easiest and most rewarding task of all—laying out tomorrow’s outfit. If and when I snooze my alarm and subsequently oversleep, I need all of the extra time that I can get.
Enduring an 8am clothes crisis and settling on an outfit that I feel *blah* in is not the move. In my pursuit to work from home and not lose my mind, I’ve found it helpful to make sure that I’m changing out of my morning pajamas into something cute and casual to signal to my brain that it’s time to get to work.
6. Prep my morning coffee
Of all the responsibilities that are knocking on my door at the time of my alarm interrupting my dreams of being married to Zac Efron, my highest priority of all is coffee. I like to streamline my coffee routine ahead of time so that everything is neatly out and ready for me to get espresso in my body as soon as humanely possible. At night, I’ll pop my Nespresso capsule into my Nespresso machine, make sure that the water is filled to the brim, and line up my mixings (oat milk, vanilla, and cinnamon) for easy morning access.
6. Make a to-do list for tomorrow
I am forever an offender of adding things to my to-do list that I’ve already completed so that I can give myself credit for completing tasks. After I’m squeaky clean and pick out my outfit for the morning, I make myself a herbal tea, I snuggle into bed, and reach for my journal that sits on my nightstand. My journal is my life and is a compilation of random article pitches that I think of at 4am, blurbs talking smack about someone who hurt my feelings, and to-do lists that somehow never fully get checked off. Regardless, making my to-do list helps me to focus in the simultaneous whirlwind and brain fog of the morning. I prioritize mindless tasks to be completed first to boost my confidence and schedule more tasking responsibilities for the afternoon when my productivity levels are highest.
8. Do something that brings me joy
I’ve been trying really hard to limit screen time before bed, so I’ve been opting for other blue-light-free activities that bring me joy to end the evening. On a normal day, I’ll turn off the lights with the exception of the faint glow of my bedside lamp, and I’ll either revisit my Kindle, journal about my day, or doodle until my eyelids become heavy. When I feel myself daydreaming then dazing, I know it’s time to call it a night. I set my typical morning alarms (yes, plural) and tuck myself in, knowing that I am leaving a productive day behind.
Would you consider yourself a morning person or a night owl? When do you find that you’re your best, most productive self?