This week in the Tranquility by Tuesday Challenge we’re focusing on Rule #1: Give yourself a bedtime. You can boost energy and give structure to days by committing to getting into bed at a reasonable time unless you have a good reason not to.

One key realization in making this work is that getting into bed does not take zero minutes. Many people have certain household tasks (checking that doors are locked, turning out lights) that have to happen before bed. There are various matters of personal hygiene, such as brushing teeth (or perhaps a longer routine if someone showers at night). Then there may be before-bed leisure activities (reading, journaling, chatting with a partner, etc.)

All of this takes time. If you intend to be in bed by a bedtime, you need to determine how much time these things take, count back, and be sure to start by this “wind-down time.” So, if you plan to be in bed at 11 p.m., and you need 30 minutes to get into bed, this suggests that 10:30 p.m. is your moment of truth.

As the Tranquility by Tuesday project participants were learning this rule, some began setting a recurring alarm for their wind-down time. An alarm means you won’t forget, and also has the added benefit of feeling like an external cue. You’re not the one telling your spouse to turn off the TV. It’s the alarm!

But regardless, knowing the wind-down time allows you to make a conscious decision.

Do you plan to be in bed by your bedtime? You don’t have to be. You are an adult who can stay up all night if you want! But if you aren’t doing anything of consequence at that moment, the default can be to start the bedtime process.

How much time do you need to wind down? If I plan to read in bed I’ve started getting ready for bed (PJs, brush teeth, take out contacts, wash face) quite a bit early so the only thing I need to do is use the bathroom and turn out the light. For whatever reason, that makes me feel like I get to read a little longer!

In other news: A big thank you to everyone who did the Time Tracking Challenge, and especially folks who filled out the survey or sent me their time log. If you sent me your log, know that I will respond — I am making good progress and only have about 60 more to go so hopefully within the next few days! I love seeing people’s logs, and seeing where the time goes. Everyone’s life is so different and we all create our own mosaics within the 168 hours of a week.

Photo: Not the wind-down time…the clock is just stuck there.

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