Create Your Perfect Afternoon Routine

Morning routines, as well as bedtime routines, are having a bit of a moment in the wellness world, and for good reason. But there’s another one that is often overlooked that is, in my opinion, just as important. After-work routine, after-school routine, before-the-kids-get-home-from-school routine – call it what you will, it’s crucial for that transition between your daytime activities and evening activities. For most of us, whether we work or study outside the home or stay at home with children, there’s a clear separation between the daytime and evening. Personally, I spend the day at work, where I’m a software developer for a large company, and my evenings working on my blog, engaging in my other hobbies and dealing with household chores.

For the purposes of simplicity and clarity, I’ll call the routine we’re talking about in this post the afternoon routine, though depending on your schedule it might fall in the early evening instead of the afternoon. Like your morning routine prepares you for the day ahead, a good afternoon routine sets you up for your evening both practically and mentally. It should leave you feeling revived and ready to take on your evening activities, while sorting through any leftover miscellaneous tasks from the day.

For example, my afternoon routine takes place around 5pm, after I get home from work. I take off my shoes and jacket, remove anything I need from my work bag (bullet journal, glasses, etc.), empty my lunch bag, and make myself a cup of tea and a snack. While the kettle’s boiling, I’ll empty or load the dishwasher as needed. I drink my tea while looking over any tasks I need to do that evening in my planner.

Lately, I’ve been experimenting with making my dinner immediately when I get home, which I find helps to create more separation between my day job and my evening responsibilities, especially as it means I don’t have to worry about making time for dinner later in the evening. Regardless, my key goal with my evening routine is to re-energise my mind after a long day of thinking and refuel my motivation to get to work on my personal projects and other tasks.

So how do you develop your own afternoon routine?

Develop a post-work or post-school afternoon to mentally reset and prepare for your evening

Figure out your aim

Depending on your schedule, the goal of your afternoon routine might be similar to mine, or it might be completely different. If you’re a SAHM, for instance, perhaps you want to tidy the house and get dinner started before your children and partner get home from school/work, while if you’re a student or work from home you might need to do something that helps you mentally separate your work from your evening.

Figure out whatever it is you need your afternoon routine to do, and keep that core goal in mind as you think about what you’ll need to do to achieve it.

There’s a good chance you’ll have two complementary core goals, as I do. On the one hand, there’s the pragmatic side, in my case getting my things organised after a day at the office. On the other hand, there’s the mental side, restoring my mind and motivation after a hard day’s work. Likewise, regardless of your practical goals there should be an element of self-care in your afternoon routine, so you emerge from it refreshed and ready to take on the evening.

Keep it Simple

Chances are, this is the time you have the least motivation, so don’t try to set up a complex routine. Instead, try to think of 1-3 things you can incorporate to help you achieve your primary aim.

A word of caution: If you have a lot to do in the evening, be careful in your choice of activities so you don’t distract yourself. For instance, I used to enjoy having a cup of tea and sitting down to read a chapter of a book when I got home from work, but I found it so difficult to tear myself away from the page and actually get anything done, so now I leave my reading until I’m finished with everything else for the evening.

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It may well take you some time to figure out the perfect afternoon routine, and that’s okay. As I said in my intro to this post, I’ve been experimenting with my routine lately; for the past couple of years I’ve always had a cup of tea when I got home from work and made dinner later, but I’ve been trying it the other way around and I’m enjoying it.

Don’t feel like you need to get the perfect routine right from the start. Even if you did manage such an impossible feat, your circumstances will change as life goes on and your routine will change with it. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, start with the practical side. Ask yourself what you need your afternoon routine to do on a pragmatic level. Is it getting organised after work? Is it getting your dinner sorted? Figure that out first, and incorporate what you need to do to meet that aim. Then you can worry about incorporating self-care into that routine. Perhaps that involves putting on some calming music while you make dinner, or doing some gentle yoga when you get in the door.

Over to you

Do you have a solid afternoon routine? Do you think it’s as important as morning and evening routines?

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