Do you feel disappointed when you can’t finish a task at the end of the day? Have you stayed at the office a little longer to work out the details? Unfinished tasks can lead people to work longer days. It’s not uncommon for workers to have unfinished tasks, but it’s not the best way to work longer days. When it comes to the end of work day, it can be frustrating when you want to get out of the office on time.
End of work day
In the last couple of years, there were multiple days I stayed late at the office. I was determined to finish all of my work promptly. However, that would leave me little time to myself at the end of the day. Feeling frustrated and tired didn’t do any good for my health. But these days, I don’t work a lot of long days as I did three years ago.
If I knew some excellent tips back then, work might not have been stressful. I’m much more mindful about how I spend my time, so that way I don’t have to work so many long hours. I recently came across a video about the best productivity hacks to apply at the end of your workday. Amantha Imber, an innovation expert, gave some excellent tips to use at work. I will go over some of them along with my advice, including:
1.) Finishing tasks at the halfway point
2.) Checking email during your last one-two hours
3.) Writing your to-do list during your final 5-10 minutes
5.) Making tiny changes
End of work day: Finish tasks at the halfway mark
Instead of finishing tasks, aim to finish them halfway through. You might feel pressured to finish it, but that might add yourself unnecessary time spent at the office. If you focus on getting 50% of the task done, you’ll know to finish the other half the next day. It will give you something to do when you start to work the next day. When you come into the office, you’ll know to start on the task immediately.
Use the halfway mark for longer projects
The well-known novelist, Ernest Hemingway, followed the standard of working on a task to the halfway point. Hemingway once said, “When you are going good, stop writing.” He would finish a writing session around mid-sentence to avoid starting on a blank page. It helped him so that he can stay focused the next time he picked up a writing project. Especially for projects such as a book, this tip helps if writing a book will take several months to a year to complete.
Check email during the last 1-2 hours
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I suggest checking your email toward the end of the day. It can be tempting to check email multiple times during the day. But it can save you those little moments when you need to focus on your most important tasks. If you check email between that two-hour window, it’s less stressful if you already finished your priorities earlier in the day. If, for some reason, you can’t hold off on email, set aside small periods to check email during your day. A good example would be 5-10 minute sessions two-three times daily.
Holding off on email has saved me a ton of time
I’ve gotten better with checking email toward the end of my day. Before, I made email a bad habit when I checked it more often than I needed to. It’s nice that I can put aside a half-hour to reviewing and respond to emails while putting more time aside for things that matter the most.
Write your to-do list in your last 5-10 minutes
If you’re like me, I tend to write to-do lists to keep myself organized. You may think a to-do list should be done at the start of the day, but I think the opposite. Before you leave the office (or maybe before you go to bed), set aside your last 5-10 minutes to arrange your to-do list for the next day. You’ll have an idea of what you need to do right after you wake up or once you arrive at the office. Also, it’s one less thing for you to do in the morning as well.
My to-do list practices
I used to be someone who made an enormous to-do list each day. Nevertheless, I always ended up leaving things unchecked when the end of the day is near. But now, I make a shorter to-do list consisting of the priorities I need to get done. When I do it before going to bed, it allows me to get my thoughts out of my mind before sleeping. So it’s a good practice for me to plan before the next day arrives.
In an interview that Imber did with Brian Scudamore, CEO, and founder of 1800-GOT-JUNK, he changes his email and social media passwords. This instance takes place right before taking time off from work. Imber said, “[It] is quite an extreme hack. He [Scuadmore] gets his assistant to change his email and social media passwords, so he physically cannot log to any kind of digital distractions, which I love.” It sounds like a good practice, especially if you want to save time from these types of distractions.
Make tiny changes to your routine
Sometimes, making small changes to your routine can make significant differences. One example Imber gives is placing a book on top of your cell phone on your bedside table. If you try this the night before, you’ll reach the book first rather than mindlessly scrolling through your phone. Reaching out for the cell phone is very common for people to practice, and can be a time-waster. So little practices such as this one can make better habits over time.
Some changes I’ve made in my routine
In the last year, I’ve gotten better not using my phone first thing after waking up. I place my phone in another area of my bedroom. That way, I’m forced to get up to turn off the alarm and get my body moving after waking up. Things such as meditation are one of the first things I do in the morning before I go about my day. So as mentioned earlier, these small changes can help make your day go smoother.
These are great hacks to try out at the end of your work day. Some of the other tips, such as those small changes, can help you get a jumpstart the following day. Imber gave some great advice, and I think it’ll make my days go by smoother. Hopefully, they can help end your work day on a strong, positive note. If you’re still working long days at the office, maybe it’s time to make some changes. Making those changes today is a great start to help you save more time.
Which one of the tips mentioned is your favorite? Are you one of those people who can’t leave the office right away?
If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below and please share this post with others.