Do your evenings tend to slip by too quickly? If you want to maximize and become productive in the last hours of your day without burning yourself out, then choose to view your evening as the launch pad of your tomorrow. What you do in the evening sets the stage for what you do tomorrow and how successful you will be. Here are five keys to help you optimize, and enjoy each evening.
1. Tidy your work space
It’s a good idea to make your work area tidy and keep it that way. Before you leave work behind for the day, spend a few minutes cleaning up. Find loose material that you can eliminate and dispose of it. If you work with tools or utensils, make sure they are all present and accounted for. While you may not feel like organizing your paperwork or putting your tools away and the end of the day, you will appreciate arriving to a clean work area the next morning. Eliminate the clutter now and you’ll be one step closer to a productive work day tomorrow.
2. Organize Tomorrow
If you choose to compile your To-Do list in the early evening, you free-up your mind to enjoy the rest of the evening. Write down your goals for the next day before you leave your office or work space. If you have coworkers or employees, try organizing a short meeting at the end of the day to outline tomorrow’s priorities. Bring closure to your day by wrapping up things with your team. While this may not always be easy, it helps everyone leave on the same page. It can also go a long way towards limiting miscommunication about goals and deadlines.
3. Celebrate an Achievement
Something good happened today. Believe it. Hunt for it. Find it. Then, celebrate it. You can write out the positive outcomes of the day, or reward the individuals who were responsible for the achievements. Be thankful for the goals that were accomplished and the positive outcomes that were achieved. Maybe you missed every goal today. That’s alright. Be excited for the progress you did make. Some days, this can be challenging, but when you focus on the “good”, the “bad” becomes less overwhelming and less debilitating.
4. Unplug and Unwind
You’ve finally arrived at that time of day when you can begin to relax, but Look Out! Using your electronic devices to wind down may not be as productive as you think. Since blue light from computers and smartphones has been proven to reduce melatonin levels, screen time in the evening could negatively affect your ability to fall asleep later on. Being able to get adequate sleep each night (7- 9 hours for working-age adults) is a crucial part of being healthy and productive. So, consider setting a time each evening when you say “Lights Out” to all your electronic devices. Instead of checking social media or watching an hour of TV, start a habit of engaging in calming activities like playing a board game, going for a walk, or enjoying a cup of tea. Focus on what helps your mind relax and prepares your body for a good night’s rest. For more information, we cover this in another Pick the Brain article titled, “6 Less Obvious Ways to Increase Your Productivity“.
5. Engage with People
Relationships don’t run on a schedule; they take consistent and careful attention. As you step away from your responsibilities for the day, realize that you are stepping into your opportunity to invest in lasting relationships. This is the time of day when most of us can be present with our families and it’s important to capitalize on that time. Maybe it’s sitting down to dinner as a family, chatting on the patio with your wife, taking a walk with your significant other, or calling up an old college buddy. The possibilities are endless. The time you have is not! Don’t over-prioritize work productivity at the expense of the people in your life. It’s not worth it.
After a long day, the evening can provide a welcome relief. It also presents an excellent opportunity to prime yourself for the next day. If you use a portion of the time to prepare for tomorrow, you set yourself up to enjoy the rest of the day relaxing and enjoying the people around you. You also give yourself a jumpstart on tomorrow’s productivity.
Ben Tejes is the Co-Founder and CEO of Ascend Finance, a platform to help people achieve self improvement in the area of personal finance. He is a writer for the Ascend Blog where he writes on topics such as Chapter 7, Chapter 13, debt, collections and creditors to help people get out of debt and experience financial freedom.
Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.