They’ll set you up for greater productivity tomorrow.
Everyone loves to talk about their morning routines, myself included. I look forward to those precious few hours when my house is dead silent and I’m the only one awake, staring at my bright computer screen as I read and respond to emails, start a new blog draft, and sip my freshly brewed cup of coffee.
While I do tweak my routine slightly from time to time, I pretty much have it nailed down to the point where my mornings run smoothly without hiccups.
However, your morning routine is only part of the equation when it comes to optimizing your work efficiency and overall productivity.
There is a less commonly discussed chunk of time that can make or break your work day efficiency and success, and it’s called the evening. More specifically, the period of time between 4 and 6 PM. Now, I know what you’re thinking. By that time, you are finishing up your work, and you just want to shut off your brain and relax.
I get it, because I tend to feel the same way. Luckily, the three tasks I’m going to share take only a few minutes each, but they will set you up for greater success the following work day. Here are three key tasks I always do between 4 and 6 PM for greater work efficiency and productivity.
1. I schedule my work in this specific way.
I know that everyone has their own way of scheduling out and prioritizing their work tasks.
However, I think the general consensus is that you need some form of organization to work optimally, whether you use a virtual calendar, pen and paper, a special planner, etc.
While I have tried a number of different methods for scheduling work tasks, I have experienced the most success by writing out all of my tasks (at a minimum) the night before I plan to complete them, along with allotting each task a specific time frame.
As it turns out, this is a pretty popular method in the workplace. In fact, even Bill Gates and Elon Musk use a similar approach:
“Gates and Musk are both said to adhere to schedules divided up into five-minute slots. The reason for this intricate planning? Well, for one, breaking your day up into small segments can boost your productivity, according to Fast Company’s Stephanie Vozza.”
Now, your schedule doesn’t have to be as intricately planned out as Gates’ and Musk’s. However, I do think it’s important to do some sort of planning in advance so you have clear goals set for each work day.
If you don’t currently have a scheduling method in place, I suggest testing the time block strategy out. It might be exactly what you need to stay organized and efficient each day.
2. I always stop when I reach this point.
When the end of the work day is nearing, and I’m in a good groove, that’s when I stop.
This might seem counterintuitive. Why would I break out of that incredible flow I have going? Well, I have found that when I push the boundary too far, I end up in a frustrated or stressed out state when I finish the work day.
This often leads to me feeling unmotivated and anxious about revisiting the problem the following work day. Sometimes, it even causes me to get a poor night’s sleep because I’m worrying so much about it and can’t shut my brain off.
I ended up in this situation when I tried to make a few alterations in the design of my website about six months back. Everything was going well, and then one tiny change messed up the layout, and I hardly slept that night because I was so stressed out about getting it back to looking clean and professional the following day.
Entrepreneur notes that:
“ending the workday on a good note makes you feel accomplished, and, it prevents you from bringing any work-related stress home.”
Renowned author Roald Dahl was also a fan of this approach. He said:
“If you stop when you are doing good, then you know what you are going to say next…You make yourself stop, put your pencil down and everything, and you walk away. And you can’t wait to get back because you know what you want to say next and that’s lovely.”
When you stop while you’re ahead, your mind will be at ease, and you’ll be more likely to approach tomorrow with excitement and positivity, which will only lead to greater productivity and success.
3. I carve out five minutes to clean my desk.
This task may seem insignificant, but I have found that I can’t work efficiently with a messy space.
I used to leave my desk a wreck at the end of a long work day and tidy up in the morning, especially in college when I always seemed to be up late finishing a coding project or other time sensitive assignment.
However, I have come to realize that it only slows me down the following morning. Now, I prefer to tidy up my space right before I clock out for the day. That way, I sit down to a fresh and clean desk in the morning, and have no delays or distractions which could easily decrease my productivity.
“When something catches your eye as you work (like a dirty coffee mug you want to clean or a paper that needs to be filed away), it may seem momentary and harmless. But this drains your energy and focus, even if you don’t realize it.”
Tidying your desk when you finish work at 5 or 6 PM truly can save you valuable time and prepare you optimally for the following work day. It’s a 5 minute task that I definitely don’t recommend skipping.
Completing a few key tasks in the evening to prepare yourself for the work day ahead can help you save time, work more efficiently, and ultimately accomplish more.
By scheduling out each upcoming work day by the hour, stopping when I’m ahead, and cleaning up my space before I clock out for the day, I’m essentially setting myself up for a highly productive and efficient work day tomorrow.
If you repeatedly find a few minutes today to prepare yourself for a brighter tomorrow, you’ll build on each day’s work with greater efficiency, productivity, and success.