This post was originally published on August 10th, 2015. It was updated on June 30th, 2017.
Even when you love what you do, sometimes there’s no greater feeling than the moment when you can finally end your work day. But before you shut down your computer and run out of the office, there are a few things you can do to make sure you have a successful day when you return.
Now, I know what you’re thinking… You probably don’t want to be bothered to add a few extra tasks onto your to-do list. The good news is, these tasks won’t take you long at all. Plus, they can help increase your productivity and alleviate stress for the day ahead.
How to End Your Work Day
If you’d like to set yourself up for success in the day ahead, end your work day with these simple tasks. Some of them will require a few extra minutes of your time, but you can factor those into your work schedule. In the end, it’ll all be worth it. You’ll feel much better when you enter the office tomorrow.
1. Tidy Your Workspace
When the work day ends, you’re ready to head out of the office and call it quits. However, before you say goodbye, take a look around your workspace. Are there scrap papers everywhere? Are there items out of place and scattered about? You need to do something about it before you leave.
A cluttered spaced simply isn’t great for our minds and our productivity. In fact, a 2011 study by Princeton University revealed just that. It found that a cluttered and disorganized environment makes it difficult for us to focus. It can also impact our ability to process information and can prevent us from doing our best work.
It’s not even just the physical clutter that impacts our minds! Digital clutter can cause stress as well. If your desktop is out of control with random files or you leave too many browser tabs open, deal with it before the day ends. The best thing you can do is block off 15 minutes and end your work day tidying up the space around you.
2. Jot Down Your Accomplishments
I’m a big believer in celebrating accomplishments, no matter how small they may be. When we can reflect on what we achieved in one day, we’ll feel better about ourselves. Take some time to jot down a few of your accomplishments every day and what you were grateful for.
This will impact your mindset as you leave the office and you’ll feel good about how the day went. Even when you’ve had a bad day, there are always bright spots that you can identify. Ultimately, it’ll boost your mood and your motivation. Plus, it’s great for your long-term happiness. It’ll serve as a reminder to always look for the good things, even on your worst days.
3. Plan Your Most Important Tasks
Before you end your work day, take a look at your to-do list to see what you were able to get done. Are there any remaining tasks lingering on your list? Or did you finish everything? Next, think about the tasks you’ll need to complete the next day and begin creating a new list. (This is a great post from Brian Tracy on how to prioritize your task list.)
List the three most important tasks (MITs) for the next day so you can make those top priority when you enter the office. You can even use this opportunity to block off time for them in your calendar if you’d like. With this list already made, you’ll be able to jump straight into work the next day. You won’t have to remember back to the day before because you’ll be prepared.
Not only that, but jotting down the next day’s tasks helps free up your mind at the end of the day. There won’t be any reason to stress about what was left unfinished, which means it’ll be easier for you to unwind.
4. Disconnect From Work
Even after you’ve left the office for the day, you may be tempted to check and respond to emails. But it’s my firm belief that when you end your work day, that should be it. Venturing back into your inbox can lead you down a path that could have you responding to emails and before you know it… An hour has passed.
Instead, make time to check your inbox one last time before you shut down for the day. You don’t want any important emails lingering on your mind for the rest of the night. Take care of them before you call it quits. Once your time is up, sign out of your inbox. And shut off the notifications on your phone if you use them.
If you work from home, you should set virtual office hours for yourself and stick to them. If you have a home office, shut the door when you’re done working to signify the end of the day. Taking time for yourself is important and you need to be able to disconnect and unwind.
5. Leave Any Stress Behind
And finally, the last thing you need to do before you end your work day is promise to leave any stress behind. If there’s something on your plate that has been bothering you, let it go. You don’t want to carry that burden outside of work hours. If you do, you’ll never be able to relax and it’s only going to cause even more stress in your life. And sometimes that stress can manifest physically through aches and pains in your body. That’s not what you want.
When you end your work day, leave the stress and the office drama behind. Make a commitment to yourself to truly shut down and focus on you at the end of every day. Doing this will help you feel recharged and ready for the next day and put you in a much better mood.