Shutting Down: Ending Routines
A lot of productivity and life-hack blogs are focused on the beginning of the day - the Miracle Morning, the 84 things successful people do before 5 am, six ways to super charge the first hour at your desk. But I have found that focusing on what you do at the end of the day can be just as, if not more, powerful. This is especially true for anyone who may not be a morning person, or who has a little resistance to sitting down and working without a warm up - ending well might just be the key to starting up smoothly.
Here are some ideas for things to do at the end of a work session - combine a couple of them to make an unshakeable ending routine!
- Save the last pom (25 minutes) or half hour of your work session to wind down - building it into the work instead of scrambling to do your routine as you're rushing out the door sends the message that the routine IS part of the work.
- Close tabs you don't need. This is controversial!! But as a reformed multi-hundred tab opener, hear me out. If you open up tabs to save them for research or reading later - process them in batches regularly so that you can keep your browser more clear. Ruthlessly deciding if you actually need to read something, or if you opened it in anxiety or boredom. Do you need that site open for constant reference? In Chrome, you can pin that tab so that it takes up less space but remains open. Common references that you don't need constantly - put them in a bookmark bar. But closing unneeded tabs day to day can make your computer run a little better (even marginally) and give your brain the sense that you are moving forward, and not just carrying a trail of information behind you, ever growing.
- Make notes about what you were doing and thinking. Nothing worse than sitting back down at your desk and not knowing what you were writing last, or what you meant to do. Keeping a notebook (bullet journal or otherwise) or a Google Doc open can give you a place to record that little stuff (the reference you meant to look up, the errand or appointment you need to schedule, or the new idea that occurred to you while writing) so it doesn't disappear, and makes starting again easier. One client shared with me that she always leaves her writing in the middle of a sentence so she knows where to pick up again - genius!
- Review your schedule for the next day, and the rest of the week. Having a quick glance at what's due tomorrow, what you have scheduled, where you might squeeze in something fun. Knowing what's coming before you sit down for the day can give you a chance to correct any problems with a little notice, and give a sense of what your day will look like tomorrow.
- Set your priorities for the next day. If you have a sense, or better yet, if you write down, what your priorities for the next day are before you leave, it makes it that much clearer to start the day when you sit down again. Also, this can act as insurance against people putting tasks onto your plate - sometimes things come up right at the last minute, but planning your priorities before you open your email, for example, can make it easier to hold to YOUR schedule and worktable.
- Clean up your workspace. Put pens away. Deal with mugs and coffee cups and water bottles and snack wrappers. Organize your papers, tidy your lab sink, check your supply levels. Make your workspace a place that you can return to with some sense of willingness, instead of dread at the mess.
- Take a few moments to write down something that went well, or something you're grateful for. If you're only going to pick up one end of the day habit, I strongly recommend it's this one. Ending the day reflecting on something that went the way you wanted it to, something that helped your day be better, or someone or something that you're grateful for can help shift your mindset (even a little) from a day that also had tough or frustrating parts. Any time you remember the good inside the bad, and that days are rarely 100% of any one emotion, you train yourself to be just a little bit more nuanced in how you view your days.