We’ve all been there. Clock-out time rolls around and it’s all you can do to grab your bag and race your coworkers to the elevator. And, if we’re honest, you probably spend the last 30 minutes or so watching the clock and noodling with Facebook or email, thinking: why bother starting any new projects when the day is almost done? Sound familiar?
What if, instead, you put that last bit of your workday to better use and set yourself up for being more productive the following morning right out of the gate? Here are five no-fail strategies that won’t require a ton of effort, but will pay off big time when you come back to your desk.
1. Plan for tomorrow
Take five minutes to go over your schedule for the coming day. This will not only remind you of breakfast meetings or doctors appointments you may have forgotten, but will also give you the chance to mentally prepare for what’s in store. Need to dress to impress tomorrow? Make sure to bring your gym clothes? Wear or bring heels for an evening event? You might even find yourself looking forward to your next work day, rather than assuming tomorrow will be just the same old same old.
2. Landscape your to-dos
Look back at what you’ve accomplished today and check those puppies off. Remind yourself of the outstanding items and make a priority list in your head for tomorrow. If it’s gotten messy or out of control, jot yourself a new one. This will also help you take stock of your productivity for that day—and strategize for how to do better tomorrow. You can learn from today’s distractions and set yourself up better for success.
3. Organize your inbox
When you’re cleaning up your coffee cup and snack wrappers and errant pens and office debris, make sure to go through the same tidying process in your email. Delete the nonsense and the junk mail, archive the important stuff, and leave only what you need to focus on when you get back to work. Sorting by sender can make it easier to delete.
4. Put in one last face time
Don’t just slink away. Check in with your boss or colleagues for a little post-work-day processing. How’d you all do? Anything urgent left on the docket? Any successes to go home proud of? Fires to put out tomorrow? This isn’t just a shrewd move for establishing yourself as a responsible team member, it can go a long way towards team building and camaraderie. And saying a proper and friendly goodbye is just as important when you’re the boss!
5. Go home
This may seem silly, but it’s awfully tempting to stick around and get a few things finished. Trouble is, this becomes a habit. Chances are you won’t get anything substantive done. Set yourself a hard cut-off time and stick to it. It will, believe it or not, help you be more productive tomorrow and won’t leave you feeling constantly fatigued or overwhelmed by work.
Then simply relax, turn off your work brain, and enjoy the rest of the day—the part that belongs only to you.