Episode 28 - Night-time Routines


Peter: Hey Jen.

Jen: Hey Peter.

Peter: I think it's time we talked about the inverse of one of our earlier episodes, and I'm talking about the inverse of a morning routine.

Jen: Okay, color me curious.

Peter: Well, I think it's, let's call it "nighttime routines," I mean, that seems like the obvious word for it, or phrase for it, and I would like to hear whether you have one, and what you make of them, if so.

Jen: I'm game. Let's do it. This is The Long and The Short Of It.

Peter: Okay, so the idea for this episode and conversation actually came from a friend of mine and a friend of the show, Tobi, who has been listening to our podcasts, and mentioned that he really liked the morning routines episode, but that he was also curious if we've thought about, if we've created, if we have a nighttime routine. And honestly, I'd never really thought about it until he prompted it, and my initial reaction was, "Oh, no, I don't have one of those." But, like, now that I've reflected about it - reflected on it for about twenty-four hours - I think I've kind of got a little subconscious nighttime routine. But I'm curious, before I dig into mine, have you, do you think you have a night routine?

Jen: It's so funny that you mention this, because about two months ago, one of my clients, we were talking about morning routines, and she said, "My morning is so inconsistent in terms of what I'm doing; I think it's more likely that I could stick to a nighttime routine if I created one." So, I loved that idea. And it's funny, because I have the opposite situation where my evenings really fluctuate, but my morning is pretty consistent because I have a kid who goes to school, so I get up, you know, at the same time every morning. But I, too, had been thinking about this, because I wondered, do I have a nighttime routine and I don't even know it? And if I have one, how do I make it better? So I would love to hear what yours is, and I'm happy to share my almost nonexistent, but starting to pay attention to it, nighttime routine.

Peter: Mine is less, I guess, structured, or deliberate, perhaps unintentional than my morning routine, but I think it exists. So I would say that my nighttime routine looks like, I'm trying to rephrase this for myself cause I haven't really thought about, like, things I do consistently at night. Okay. Things I do consistently night: I will not check any piece of technology beyond 9:00 PM. So my laptop, my phone, all of that goes into a separate room, like, into the study, so I don't take it into my bedroom, I don't take it down to the kitchen or the lounge room. So that, I think, would be a part of what I would call my nighttime routine, which is like, unwinding from devices. And I think -

Jen: Pause, pause. Did you say, "lounge room?"

Peter: Yes. Is that not a thing?

Jen: What is that?

Peter: The lounge room? You don't know what a lounge room is?

Jen: No.

Peter: I mean, I'm in my lounge room right now. It's a sitting room. It's - what would you call it?

Jen: Oh, okay. We call it either the, the living room or the family room.

Peter: Okay, "living room." Yeah. I mean -

Jen: I sort of like the implication of the "lounge room."

Peter: I wonder if that's Australian. Yeah, the lounge room. I've always called it the lounge room.

Jen: I am going to borrow that from you, thank you. Okay, continue.

Peter: Okay, continuing. So I might be down in the lounge room, but there's no devices, so essentially, devices go into the study. That would be one key part of my nighttime routine. The other is I like a, I like a luxurious, warm shower at night. I know we've talked about cold showers in the past; nighttime is usually a time where I have a hot shower. Having said that, that could sometimes be 6:00 PM, it could sometimes be 8:00 PM. I don't necessarily have an attachment to a time there. And the other thing I would say that I'm strict on is my bedtime, is like, I'm like, I'm asleep by 9:30 basically every night. It's, I love your shock reaction, because I'm a straight-up grandpa. Like, I get up at five -

Jen: That's amazing.

Peter: - but I'm, I'm in bed, I could go to bed at 9:29 and I'll be asleep at 9:30. So I guess that's also part of my routine, is an early bedtime. And the other thing I do is I close the loop on my morning journal. So, my five-minute journal has a section for the morning, and then it has like a section at night where you reflect on the day, and you write down three things that were amazing, and three, and one thing you could do better. So I guess I kind of do have a nighttime routine, having said all of this.

Jen: You one hundred percent have a nighttime routine.

Peter: So I do, yeah. Hot shower, bit of reflection, no screen, early bed.

Jen: Okay, before I tell you about my now really nonexistent nighttime routine, I can't remember if we actually talked about this on the podcast, but we've talked about it a lot in one of my classes at the studio, and that is the idea that the routines in our lives reflect the values that we hold. I know we, you and I have talked about it on the podcast, in terms of the patterns we noticed in the things that we say. But the things that we do also reflect our values in action. So I'm, I'm a little scared to unpack my nighttime routine to see what sort of points out in terms of my own values. But I'm just wondering, can you identify what values are depicted in the actions you're taking at night?

Peter: Good question. I, so I value, I value holding space for other people, and for myself, and so on, on one level I would say that switching off my devices allows me to hold space for myself, and also for my girlfriend, and anyone who I might be hanging out with at that particular night, my housemates, or if I'm out for dinner. So I would say there's a little bit of that. But also I think the main value is, I know that the sleep thing, like I know that in order for me to be at my best, I need to have a certain amount of sleep. And so before I can think about living my values, I need to ensure I'm rested so that I can live my values the next day. So it's almost like, in my head, it's almost before everything else comes rest. So I guess the number one value is for me is, like, health, fitness, sleep, like, sleep kind of is my number one value, if that makes sense.

Jen: Can you talk about the value of the book-ending journal, that you start your day with a little bit of journaling, and you end your day with a little bit of journaling?

Peter: Of course, yeah, so that's about, it's about, I guess that's me living my growth mindset, you know, in that I reflect on what went well that day, so that I can either continue to do that in the future, or the one thing that I could have done better is the perfect example of, nothing is perfect; there's always room for some improvement. So I take some time to spend sixty seconds just reflecting on what could I do slightly better, and sometimes it's like, "You didn't meditate this morning, even though that's what you usually do, so meditate tomorrow." So like, that's the other thing I would say with these routines is, I can't remember if we said it in the morning routines yet, but you know, on the weekends, things definitely change, and generally speaking, I would say if I can stick to these eighty to ninety percent of the week, then that's, that's a good week.

Jen: Okay, well I'm seeing that this is an area in my life that I could really improve upon.

Peter: You haven't even said any!

Jen: I think because - I know, okay, well let me, yeah, let's, let's back that up. Okay, so my, my schedule varies quite a lot. However, when, when my husband is out of town - he's a director, he's out of town quite a lot - I try to only teach one night a week so the other evenings, I'm home with my daughter. When my husband is in town, I think that maybe I let all hell break loose in my schedule, because I know I have that extra support at home. And now that I'm thinking about it, I'm sort of wishy-washy with my evenings. It's not that I'm doing things that are irrelevant; I certainly am not. I don't watch TV, generally speaking, and I'm not necessarily spending hours scrolling through social media, so I'm trying to figure out, like, what am I doing? I'm playing a lot of catch up from the emails that I ignored during the day.

Peter: Shocker.

Jen: Yeah - I'm answering messages in my gajillion slack channels. So it's mostly, I'm realizing it's like, playing catch-up on communications, that is what my evening is about. And I hang out with my daughter. For the most part, I don't read that much at night; most of my reading happens during the day, unless I have a deadline for something I need to read, then I'll read in bed. But I also am pretty strict with myself about getting enough sleep. Huh. I just, I'm realizing, okay, so if you, if any of you have read Brene Brown's new book Dare to Lead, she does this great values exercise, and my two values from my Brene Brown lists are not reflected currently in my evening routine.

Peter: Interesting.

Jen: So that is definitely a problem.

Peter: Is it?

Jen: Huh. Yes, because the, the thing that I recognize in your routine that's missing from mine is, like, a moment to reflect on myself. That self awareness, personal growth part. And the other thing that is missing from my evening routine is anything creative. Now, I have a very creative job; I'm basically having to access my creativity all day; however, when I'm creative at work, it is more often than not - and I like it this way - in service of someone else's growth, and I'm not necessarily accessing my creativity for my own personal growth. And at night when I'm by myself, that's the perfect time to do it. So I think what's about to happen, Peter, is I'm about to make a resolution -

Peter: Yes!

Jen: - and, or a promise to myself that I'm going to start tinkering with an evening routine that will allow me a moment of self-awareness and creativity. So I'm gonna have to think on what that's going to be, but I'm, I'm happy to report back in a couple of weeks.

Peter: I love it. So I think, so thinking about night routines then, what, like what are they for, do you think? Like for you, it sounds like it's to create time to be creative for yourself. Like do you think, do you think what a routine is for, a nighttime routine is for is A) different to a morning routine, and/or B) different for each person?

Jen: Yes, and yes.

Peter: I had a feeling you'd say that.

Jen: Well it's funny because I have this sort of thing that I say, which I guess has become a saying of mine, which is, "Can you put your head on the pillow at night feeling proud when you say, 'I did that.'" And I don't have that as part of my own routine, although I prescribed it for other people quite a bit. Like, at the end of the day, you want to be able to lay your head on the pillow and say, "I did that, and that makes me proud." So I need to implement that moment, even if it's just a moment for myself.

Peter: I think that, for you, it probably is a moment, because, like, I know the things that you do during the day, and I can almost guarantee you that the answer to that question is "Yes, I am proud of the work that I did when I put my head on the pillow."

Jen: Most days. Not all days.

Peter: But I feel like, if you just create that moment for yourself - I mean, also the other thing I would say is, like, I got to call you out for, you, we've done some creative work slash thrashing when I know it's late for you because of the time zone differences that we have built into our relationship. So, I mean give yourself, a little bit of credit for -

Jen: Yeah, it's not like I'm wasting the night away, but I am, I'm realizing, like my morning routine, the "what's it for" is so clear to me. It is, like, all about jump-starting my mind, jump-starting my imagination, starting to connect the dots, fueling the creative energy that I'm going to need to put out into the world that day. But I don't really have, like, this moment of reeling it back in. And it's funny, because one of the things I've complained about, definitely to my husband, but maybe I've complained to you as well, is that I sometimes will do these - I love them - I call them my "marathon days," where I'll teach three classes back to back. So that is a total of, it's about thirteen hours in the studio, pretty much without a break. And I get so wound up, like, it is so hard for me to come down from that experience cause I love it so much, and I get so creatively heated up that it, on the marathon days, it'll take me hours to unwind. But if I had a ritual, something that I could rely on to sort of put things back in their various mental places, at the end of the day, I think it would be easier.

Peter: Hmm. I like it. And so I think, if I was to say what the "what's it for" for my nighttime routine is, having just realized in the last twenty minutes that I have a nighttime routine, I would say that it is: to set myself up for success for the next day, which is to get enough sleep so that I'm okay and energized for the next day; to reflect on what I could have done better so that I could potentially do that the next day; and to spend time away from my devices, which enhances the sleep, which enhances my mood, hopefully, and again sets me up for success for the next day. So that is interesting, and kind of fun to unpack.

Jen: I love this so much, I'm excited to explore this more and figure it out. I'm also, to be totally honest, sort of envious that you've already got it figured out, Shepherd.

Peter: I mean, I wouldn't say I figured out - full disclosure, the other thing is, like, I don't have kids, and so, like, I have that luxury at the moment, because I know I've had, we've had feedback on the morning routines, for example, of like, "Well, but what if, what do you do when your kid wakes you up at five in the morning?" And I'm like, I mean, I don't have that problem - well, not a problem - I don't have that situation. So like, full disclosure, I am very, very, I guess I'm in a lucky place for creating structures and routines, because I don't have other inputs that I have to look after, essentially.

Jen: Well I think that's an interesting point. I do have a kid, but only one. But what you're giving yourself, as a younger person who is intentionally creating structure is when you, if you ultimately do decide to have a child or have children, you'll be able to sort of pick apart the building blocks of your day to figure out which ones need to change, as opposed to throwing them all up in the air, and going, like, "I have no structure. I have no building blocks." I think it's actually, I think it's wise before you make that sort of a drastic life change to look at how you are living and what is optimal, knowing that, of course, everything changes when you have a kid, but it might help you see more clearly exactly which things are changing. I'm interested in that.

Peter: Yeah, and so to finish with, I like, I'm connecting this to a book called Discipline Equals Freedom, I believe it's called, by Jocko Willink, who is an ex-navy seal - I hope I did get, got that right, Jocko, if you're listening, hi - and I mean, the premise of the book is exactly what the title suggests, is creating discipline, creating routines, creating structures is the ticket to freedom is, the ticket to having more space, more time, and more energy for the things that we want to do, whether they're creative, physical, spiritual, relationship, whatever, that these small disciplines create freedom down the line.

Jen: I love it. I’m giggling, because it occurred to me that we've finally found something else that makes us different from each other. Yay!

Peter: There's the height, there's the location, there's the age, and there's the nighttime routine… I mean, there's also so many others.

Jen: No, that's it. That is The Long and The Short Of It.