*This blog was updated on September 01st, 2023, and originally created on March 29th, 2012.
If you’re anything like me, time management can be an issue. When you leave work, your brain doesn’t stop focusing on that day’s tasks. Throughout your evening, little things pop up in your brain saying, Hey … don’t forget you have to work on me tomorrow. I’m not going away, so there’s no point in acting like I don’t exist.
Inevitably, I send myself email reminders of the things I need to do the next day throughout the night. C’mon, don’t act like you don’t do the same thing. I know that when your spouse gets up and goes into the other room, you quickly pull out your phone and email yourself. You’re hoping they don’t come back in and say, “Are you with me or your work?!”
So how do you avoid such time management silliness? Here are five simple things you can do to free up your mind when you leave work:
- Setting aside time to wrap up your day – Block off at least the last 15 minutes at the end of your workday to conclude your tasks. This will aid in the transition from work mode to personal time and it invites you to a reflective period that allows you to know what you’ve accomplished during the day. This will promote a Productivity Boost that potentially leads to a smoother start and increased focus the next day.
- Send it out – Go through your emails and answer anything that hasn’t been answered yet. This step is about addressing any pending emails or communications before leaving work. It’s crucial to clear Mental Space, unanswered emails can linger in your mind, causing unnecessary mental clutter and anxiety. Answer them quickly, so you’ve done your part to get those topics moving.
- Write it down – The to-do list is a time-honored technique for task management with a lot of benefits:
- Writing tasks down serves as an external memory that won’t forget.
- Listing tasks and prioritizing them ensures you tackle the most important ones first.
- Crossing off completed tasks gives a sense of accomplishment.
- Clean it up – In How To Declutter Your Mind, I discuss how your mind is organized the same way your desk is. Yep, I just heard the audible OHHH from a lot of you. This tip converts your desk into a Productivity Zone to stay organized and find what you need quickly. If your desk is a mess, even if you know where everything is, your subconscious keeps telling you that you have to do something with all of that stuff. Instead, a clean space means your mind doesn’t have to expend energy processing visual clutter.
A little time management will change your day. If you will spend at least 15 minutes doing each of these, not only will your next workday be considerably more productive, but your night will be, too. It’s about optimizing your workflow and mental state by proactively managing loose ends and mental clutter, leading to improved work-life balance and overall well-being.
Question: How does your day usually close out?