Imagine you walk into work one morning. The lights were left on, the door was unlocked, and the papers and miscellaneous items from the previous day were left out on the counter. What’s your first thought? Does this disrupt the rest of your day? Would you consider this an acceptable way to leave the office?
For many of my clients, this analogy provides a lot of insight into the problematic ways they end the day. Many of them have already created morning routines that work–but when it comes time to leave work, things get a little less organized. Without an evening routine, work can easily blur into life in ways with which you’re not comfortable. Bringing the workday to a close–however you choose to do so–is a critical step in your day.
1. Tell your brain it’s time to switch gears.
For some people, this comes late at night; for others, this is a 5 o’clock task. No matter what time you’ve decided to stop, you need a hard deadline. Nothing is so urgent that you need to address it during your time off. Work done after you’ve exhausted yourself for the day is sloppy work.
2. Signal to others (your staff, your clients, your family) that you’ve switched gears.
This is easy. Ignore requests after this time. Put down the smartphone. Avoid the inbox. Tie up your loose ends before you end your workday.
3. Prioritize for tomorrow.
Although you’ve spent time planning your week, take a few minutes to update your priorities for the next day. Take into account any new problems or information.