Going Out on a High Note: 6 Steps to Finish Off Your Work Day

You know that how you start your morning can set the tone for the rest of you day. You’ve created a solid morning routine and it’s paid off. Sure, there were the usual pressures of an average work day. There was even an unexpected challenge or two to cope with. You, however, met it all head on. Now the day is coming to a close. You’re about to toss all your stuff in your bag and head out the door. Not so fast. Your routine at this point of the day matters too. In fact, getting tomorrow morning off on the right foot will depend on what you do right now. It’s not just your work life that benefits from a good close-out routine; your home life will as well. Having a proper end-of-day routine in the office can boost your happiness and lower your stress levels when you get home too. Don’t believe it? Take 30 minutes and try these steps for yourself.

Give the to-do a once-over

We cause ourselves plenty of undue stress outside of work, worrying over how we’re going to complete tasks that are still sitting on our to-do lists. These waning moments of your work day can ease your mind. I’m not suggesting you hurriedly check off the remaining items. That’s unrealistic. What you should do, however, is take a good look at what’s still on that list and evaluate your plan for getting it checked off sooner, rather than later. Making that plan will remove the post-work stress you might have otherwise felt about an incomplete task. Of course, if you can quickly get an item or two done in your last few moments of the day, do that!

Touch base with tomorrow

Think about the level of stress a forgotten meeting or call can render! Being prepared for what awaits you tomorrow will help you greet the day (and the activities in it) with confidence. Take the time at the end of today to review your calendar. Are there project deadlines scheduled? A meeting? Do you need to allocate a block of time to one of those to-do list plans you just created? Get it on the calendar.

Organize your work space

Productivity can be messy. Papers you were reviewing, a water bottle or two, a coffee cup, scribbled-on post notes, and an array of other work-related elements may be scattered across your work space. It can be tempting to just leave it and deal with it tomorrow. Don’t. Greeting your work day in a chaotic work space isn’t going to do you any favors. You want to start tomorrow being able to find the things you need. Take the time now to get things back in order. That includes your digital desktop. Set aside time to clear out your email inbox. Set reminders for messages that need your attention in the morning. File emails you need to keep. Delete what’s not necessary.

Pat yourself on the back

Even on our most chaotic, disheveled days, there’s something good to celebrate. You’ve just devoted time reviewing what didn’t get done. Now give yourself time to recognize what you did accomplish. Go ahead, give it a try. With your mind focused on the high notes as you close out the day, you’ll kick off your post-work-day time from a more peaceful vantage point.

Express some gratitude

You know the value of living in abundant gratitude. Grab a minute before you leave not only to recognize three things you’re thankful for about your day, but also to express that thanks to the people involved. Did a colleague come through with a last-minute assist that saved you a tremendous amount of undue stress? Did IT get your testy laptop back in working order? Did someone on your team knock a task out of the park? Even if you already said thanks, say it again now. You’ll feel happy. They’ll feel happy. It’s a win-win.

Say good bye (and mean it)

You likely took time this morning to check in with your team, your boss, and any colleagues your day-to-day tasks collide with. End your day on similar footing. Depending on what’s needed, make sure you give at least a wave goodbye or devote a minute (or two) for quick conversation. If someone may need to reach out for support after you’ve left, let them know when and how they can reach you. If you’re not on standby, let folks know that too. As the office door closes behind you, turn your work brain off. No emails. No phone checks. No thinking things through. This is your time to focus on you and your not-work life. Working from home? A similar routine will help you too. Next week we’ll talk about specific steps you can take to separate your work-at-home time from your be-at-home time. Until then, this article may be useful: 4 Tips to Making Work at Home Work.