Why You Need an After-Work Routine and How to Create One

You know the feeling when you get home from a long day at work and then you park yourself in front of the TV and binge-watch Netflix all night?? It can feel really good to veg out but that behavior is NOT helping your goals (or your overall well-being). Having an after-work routine helps you unwind while still doing all the things you need to do! 

Let’s be real, there are days when we just need to do nothing and that’s okay. However, it’s important to build healthy habits that will propel us forward EVEN WHEN we are tired after work! 

After all, routines are just habits that we practice daily. 

So what is an after-work routine? Or a 5-9 routine?

You probably already have several routines! 

Many people have a morning routine or an evening routine. Some people have end of the month routines or even cleaning routines.

So why not have an after-work routine?

In the most simple terms, an after-work routine is a routine you follow when you get home from work. How long you want that routine to be is up to you! 

Sometimes it’s referred to as a “5-9” routine because many people get off work at 5pm.

Obviously, that isn’t fitting for everyone’s schedule… so I like to call it an after-work routine. That way it works for everyone regardless of your work schedule!

Think of your after-work routine as a series of steps you take every evening to reach some type of goal. There is a reason for an after-work routine or else you’d just continue lounging on the couch all night. 

My after-work routine goal is to help me live a healthier lifestyle and stay on track with my blog and business. 

Since that’s my only “free time” outside of work (kind of depressing lol) I like to make good use of it while also still making time to unwind and relax! 

Why is an after-work routine important?

So, we just touched on why I think it’s important to me but there are other reasons as well! 

01 – helps you create healthy work-life boundaries 

Whether you work in an office or you work from home, turning work off can be hard to do! Sometimes we check our emails even when we’re at home not working. People who work from home may be working overtime without pay or just have a hard time finishing the work day.

Having an after-work routine allows you to set those boundaries. Once the routine starts, work is over. 

It helps you get into a new mindset that doesn’t include work. Setting healthy work-life boundaries is crucial for your mental health. When the workday is done, move on! 

02 – unwinds your mind 

I don’t know about you but if my work day was frustrating, I can really carry those feelings and emotions into the rest of my evening. Those nights are usually not great and I don’t get anything done. 

However, having an after-work routine forces you to unwind and leave the days stress behind you. 

I find working out can clear my mind and make me focus on something else even for 20 minutes. So, if that is part of my after-work routine then I know I will get to clear my head every day after work. It sets me up for success!

03 – creates more productive time 

Depending on what your life looks like, sometimes after work needs to be productive time. If you work and have a side business, evenings are some of your only times to work on that. If you have kids you can’t afford to sit around all night doing nothing. 

Having a routine to follow after work that’s tailored to your needs can help you be more productive. 

Whether you use that time to work on a business, a hobby, take care of your family, or focus on improving yourself, having time set aside daily helps you get more done!

04 – a way to practice healthy habits 

As I mentioned at the beginning, routines are just habits that we put together and do daily. 

Creating a routine full of healthy habits will really start to change your life. When you start to break down how much time you have each night (5-9 or whatever your schedule is), you realize that 4 or 5 hours is actually a lot of time. 

Think of how many healthy things you can do in 5 hours. You could work out, make a healthy dinner, read a chapter of a book, walk around the block, and so on. 

You don’t need to “do it all” but once you realize that creating healthy habits is possible, it gets easier!

woman stretching while on a walk during after-work routine

How to create your own after-work routine 

Start with your schedule 

It all starts with figuring out your schedule. Since every after-work routine is going to be a little different, start with timing. 

When do you get off work? Do you commute or do you work from home? When do you arrive at home? 

Once you have that information determine when you need to go to bed. 

What time do you wake up in the morning? When do you typically feel tired? 

Once you have that information you now know how much TIME you have each evening!

What do you need/ want to do?

Then I want you to determine the things you need to do. You need to eat dinner so when does that happen? Any other important tasks that you need to do every evening, figure that out and roughly the time you do them. 

Then, make a list of things you WANT to do. These may include things for your mental health, self-care, hobbies, and things you find fun or relaxing… however, try to avoid TV. Sitting and watching TV can be a bit of a wormhole. If that is the only way you know how to relax I would look a bit deeper and see if there are other hobbies or things you enjoy. 

This should also include new healthy habits you want to implement or any tasks pertaining to your side business/projects. 

Creating the layout

Okay, so you have your tasks and you know the time for your routine. Now, you need to structure your routine in a way that makes sense for you. 

This is roughly how my after-work routine goes (it does change sometimes as new things come up):

5pm- home from work – put my things down, say hi to my cat, immediately get changed into workout clothes 

5:15pm- workout (I do home workouts because I prefer it and it saves time)

6pm- start dinner and get my lunch ready for the next work day (**a healthy habit)

6:30pm(ish)- eat dinner, enjoy some family time, and do a quick tidy in the kitchen – keeping the house tidy is one of my healthy habits!

7:15pm- spend time on blog/ social media work

8pm- start to wind down – this is where my nighttime routine starts!

So, as you can see this is not super stuffed with things. I’m not trying to do 1000 things every day. Some days I may spend more time on blog/social media tasks. If you need any help deciding what to work on each day if you have a side business or if you work fully for yourself, try using theme days!

Anyways, lay out your routine however you want. 

You may focus more time on physical health. Maybe you spend more time cleaning/ organizing. Or maybe you break down your sections even more to fit more tasks in. Whatever works for you. 

As you can see I also start winding down kind of early. I just really like my sleep and wake up at 5am every day. So, you could easily push this routine longer if you are more of a night owl!

Following through 

The final step of creating a routine is to follow through. It’s all great to create the routine and figure out what habits you want to implement but if you never do it, it’s just a waste of time. 

I like to write the routine out, step by step, just like I did above, and follow that structure until I feel I can do it on my own. 

You may try it for a week and realize you need to tweak some things. That’s okay! Just give it a try and actually follow through EVEN WHEN you are tired! Part of building habits is pushing through the discomfort until it becomes easier! Nothing is easy right from the start. 

Tips for 5-9 routine newbies

Like anything, starting a new routine can be hard at first. Here are a few tips for after-work routine newbies. 

01 – track your habits 

It feels good to check things off a list. So, write down all the habits you want to start. 

It may seem annoying to rewrite them daily but it helps you stay on track, helps you remember the new habits, and it feels great to SEE your progress. 

02 – be nice to yourself but not too nice 

It will be really tempting to fall back into old routines. However, you need to remind yourself that while it’s okay to slip up now and then, you don’t want to do it continuously. 

You started an after-work routine for a reason (maybe to better your life??) so don’t give up on yourself. 

Allow for bad days, we all have them. But jump right back on the horse the next day! 

03 – stay inspired 

Instead of saying “motivated” because motivation eventually wears out… focus on staying inspired. Create a vision board, write future you a letter, set goals… do whatever you need to do to stay inspired and stay on track. 

If you feel like you don’t want to continue your routine or you get into a slump, have SOMETHING that you can refer to that will remind you why you are doing this and why you should keep going. 

how to create an after-work routine
why you need to start an after-work routine

In conclusion 

Routines of any kind are there to help you be a better you! Whether you start a morning routine, an evening routine, or an after-work routine, the goal is usually the same: self-improvement. 

Having a way to end the work day that is healthy and pushes you to do good things is super important. You don’t need to have something to “work on” in order to make better use of your time. 

YOU are important. Taking care of yourself and doing things that make you feel good is important. 

Do you have an after-work routine (or 5-9 routine)?

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