Increase Productivity by Doing These 8 Things at the END of Every Day

by Amy Steinberg Published May 22, 2018 Last updated May 22, 2018

Start every day right may be the phrase, but the end of the day is actually an incredibly important component of your routine. Consider this: your end-of-day routine at work is often what determines the mood you carry into the evening, as well as the level of strain you feel walking into the office the next day. Successful, inspired professionals choose to make some intentional rituals for the end of each workday, granting themselves free minds for the evening. Those same routines make the next morning incredibly productive and purposeful.

Start Working on Loose Threads Early

As the day draws to a close, most of us can sense when tasks aren’t going to conclude on time. In some work environments, this means staying late. However, for a really successful day to wrap up, it’s important to take note of things that aren’t finishing at a reasonable rate. The last two hours of the day, in particular, are a good time to follow up with people from whom you need answers. If the task is not manageable in the remaining workday, switch gears to a plan for how to fit it in tomorrow instead. Most projects can handle small shifts if communication is maintained, and this way, you’ll be well-rested to accomplish the task tomorrow.

Review the To-Do List and Note Successes

Look for success points on your to-do list, what have you accomplished? Celebrating a little bit at the end of each day can contribute to an outlook full of gratitude; Inc’s Nathan Tanner mentions:

  • A study by UCLA found that people who regularly wrote down what they were grateful for were more optimistic and cheerful than those who didn’t. Interestingly, they also had fewer doctor visits and fewer work absences.

Being grateful and positive at the end of the day puts our outlook on a path toward an excellent evening as well, whether we will encounter friends, family, or partners.

Send Urgent Communications and Note Non-Urgent Ones

While it is great to send one or two last emails or make those final phone calls to give quick status updates to those who need to end the day “in the know,” it’s better to make a list of the other, non-urgent communications than to try to fit them all in. If you do non-urgent tasks right up until quitting time, you may find your evening interrupted with clarifying communications and distractions.

De-Clutter Your Desktop

Cleaning your desk is such a great step for making the next morning feel great. By removing clutter, you actually make having a “clutter-free mind” easier. Cluttered desks cause your stress level to spike when you return to the office the next morning and have to wade through the leftovers from the previous day. Instead of leaving the mess for tomorrow, do the minimum of moving or filing all paper that won’t be needed in the morning, and making an orderly stack of items you will immediately use the next day.

Make a “First Three Tasks” List for the Next Morning

At the end of the day, you may vow that you know exactly where you will start the next day, but by morning, you may helplessly look at your email and default to non-urgent tasks. With your final minutes of the day, make a first three tasks list that will allow you to immediately leap into work the next day. During the first three tasks, your mind will be firing on all fronts, both getting tasks done and starting to organize for whatever tasks haven’t yet been planned. By the third task’s conclusion, you’ll be so immersed that you’ll have the next thing easily at your fingertips.

Make Time for Saying “Have a Good Evening”

In the hustle to leave work on time, many people neglect coworkers and subordinates, but according to the Harvard Business Review, successful people end the day with real goodbyes. Even if this means a couple of minutes spent on chit-chat, authentically saying goodbye to everyone rather than simply escaping is a great way to reinforce your good reputation while also giving yourself and your coworkers a positive social boost.

Use a Transition Activity to Unwind

Jumping straight from work into home life can be jarring, so many people plan for an interim activity. If you work out, a quick intense workout can be the perfect in-between to get rid of any work stress while burning some calories too. For people with substantial commutes, this can be some time with a favorite musician on the stereo, or an informative podcast or audiobook. Whatever eases the transition for you is worth the time: otherwise, people are prone to feeling “off” all evening, like they never really left work.

Resist the Work Email Till Morning

While difficult, setting your phone and laptop to not bother you with email until the next day is best. While there are many benefits to checking email early in the morning, checking intermittently all evening can ruin your leisure without improving work performance. Multitasking too frequently is also known as context switching – it can steal your free time without giving anything back. Be a great email correspondent during the day, and try to establish a pattern of disconnecting in the evening.

With an end-of-day ritual that concludes each day, you are better equipped for family and leisure time, and ready to truly enjoy and optimize the next day’s tasks.