How many articles have you read about how leaders of today start their day? Yes, it is crucial to have different routines throughout your day. Starting off your workday on the right foot with a few different habitual routines is definitely a proven way to set yourself up for success. What most people don’t think or talk about is a “leaving the office” routine. Some people have no more routine than every day they get in their car at 5:05pm. Some leave their offices tidy, some leave it in a haphazard mess.
Why This Routine is Important
Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert is quoted, “How you end the day is critical, as it has much to do with how you start the next day. It’s half of the puzzle of being productive. Both pieces are like bookends that carry extra weight relative to what happens in between. They’re like first and last impressions that hold tremendous impact on your view of your work, attitude and productivity level. The end of your day sets the stage for tomorrow, and the start of your day sets the stage for today.” (Source)
Michael Kerr, an international business speaker and author, says another reason to have a leaving the office routine is that it, “has huge effect on the level of stress and happiness you carry home, which in turn can impact your health, your marriage and family life, your ability to sleep and your overall level of happiness.” (Source)
3 Things to Think About When Creating an Evening Routine
1. Review your schedule and to-do list for the next day.
This tip is especially helpful if you have projects that spill over into the following day. Whether you keep a physical or digital planner/calendar, update it accordingly. This is also a great time to help you see your day/week/month as a big picture. Notice what’s eating up most of your time. If it’s not your top priority, what can you delegate or what meetings can you miss/cancel in order to align your priorities with how you spend your time.
2. Tidy up your physical and digital space.
Before you groan at this tip, it really works. Study after study has found that a clean workspace helps our brains function at top levels and be more productive. You may need to acquire a paper sorter or figure out a way to organize things in a way where you can start off every morning with a relatively clean desk.
In terms of your digital space, make a daily check to ensure that your files are saved in an organized fashion. The other place where digital clutter ensues is our inboxes. Do your best to weed out your inbox of spam/promotions, reply to emails that take three minutes or less, and write a prioritized list of which emails need your urgent attention for the next day.
3. Leave on a positive note.
“Take note of something that went well, compliment a co-worker on an accomplishment, or drop a thank you note to a client, Woodward says.”
Whoever reports to you, try leaving them with an encouraging comment before you walk out the door. Taylor agrees. Workers always want to feel valued and like their work is making a difference in the long term.
The attitude in which you leave the office will eventually match your attitude in which you arrive. Leave with a smile, and you may be a happier person as you walk in the doors the next day.
When forming new habits and routines, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Maybe you’ll stick firmly to the course for 3 days, but then get derailed and never return to it. Instead, pick one habit to start doing at the end of your workday. Make sure to prioritize that time in your schedule, even if it’s just 10 or 15 minutes. When you’ve done that small routine for at least 3 weeks and you feel comfortable, add another part of your leaving routine, adding extra time to your exit strategy. In no time, you’ll be arriving to work ready to tackle the day without the loose ends of yesterday lying all over your office distracting you.