How many times have you laid in bed, trying to make yourself sleep but rehashing the day’s events instead? During the day you have things to do. Face it, how often these days do we sit quietly thinking about what we’ve done and what we need to do. On the flip-side, when you are not doing anything, when it is dark and quiet (except for your partner’s snoring!) all those thoughts come flooding back.
When late in the night starts to become early in the morning, beware!
Although I have to confess that the time right before sleep is often an opportunity to solve some programming dilemma, it is also a time to replay all of the things I postponed thinking about during the day. Forget about monsters under the bed! Some nights, what I most fear are the regrets.
How Can You Turn off the critic in your head?
You know the voice I’m talking about. It presents an endless litany of things you did less than perfectly, things you forgot to do, and things you wanted to do and didn’t get to. I can’t help you too much with the “perfect” thing. Nobody is perfect! And you wouldn’t like them if they were. But there are a few things you can do.
Make a list. Write down the tasks you planned for today. Do it on paper! Yes, every day! Even if you have a digital task list of some kind, writing it down every morning when you’re starting your day. We tend to remember the things we write on paper with a pen or pencil far better than what is on the computer.
Physical writing may be less important if we stop writing on paper altogether but I hope it won’t. There is something so satisfying about writing down a task and then drawing a line through it or a check next to it.
Of course, it goes without saying that once you’ve made a list, check it twice! Better yet, check it three or four times! But not after you go to bed. It will still be there in the morning. You do know that, don’t you?
That few minutes of writing and planning have the added benefit of keeping you focused throughout your day so it’s a two-fer.
Sum up your day. Spend a few minutes writing in a journal or diary. This is clearly not something you want to share with the world but it will help you quiet that constant buzz of thoughts. Write about what you would like to change but make sure that every day you can find at least one positive outcome. Even if it’s just the fact that you wrote in your journal!
Accept the fact that you are not perfect. This will probably be the hardest thing you can do! I still hear my mother’s voice in my ear, telling me that if a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing perfectly. Every single time I find a typo in one of my posts, or a bug in my code, I berate myself for screwing up. If you do too, stop it right now!
Wind down your thoughts. Turn off the computer, the tablets, and the phone. Especially stop checking your work email, chat apps like Discord or Slack, and stop checking your project management software too. Doing this every night signals your brain that it is time to wind down and go to sleep.
Don’t tell me that Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest relax you. You only think they do. Every minute that you spend looking at social media or reading news stories only keeps you tied to the waking world.
Create a nightly ritual. Give yourself a chance to turn off. Soak in the tub, brush your teeth, wash your face, and put on nightclothes, sexy or not! If you live with a partner or significant other, the ritual might include a bit of lovemaking too, a really good way to relax and get ready for sleep.
Acknowledge your day with all of its positives and negatives and then put it away. Whatever was done or not done, I give you permission to stop thinking about it until tomorrow! I had to do that for myself before I could make any progress. Now I’ve made it part of my nightly ritual. I’m still not perfect, but I’m getting there.
Stop obsessing! Clear your mind and let yourself get a good night’s sleep.
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