Perhaps you spend the last 10 minutes of your workday staring at the clock, counting down the seconds until you’re free.
Or, maybe you bury yourself in your work until the very last minute — then you grab your stuff and run for the door without saying goodbye to your colleagues.
If either of the above scenarios sounds familiar, it may be time to reassess your end-of-day routine.
“How you finish the workday is very important,” says Michael Kerr, an international business speaker and author of “The Humour Advantage.” “It can set your mood for the rest of your day; it may impact your personal relationships, overall level of happiness, and how well you sleep that night; and it will set the stage for the next day.”
'This is a classic time when your mind can drift,' explains Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of 'Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behaviour and Thrive in Your Job.' 'Typically, you're not as sharp at the end of the day.'
Try not to allow yourself to get distracted or caught up in non-work related activities at the very end of the day.
Successful professionals always keep an eye on their ever-changing to-do lists, Taylor says.
'But the last 10 minutes is when they also check their final progress against that day's objectives,' she says. 'They revise their final list accordingly while in the moment, rather than abruptly leave and hoping they will remember all the nuances of that day in the morning.'
Taylor says in addition to focusing on what you still need to do, it's important to look back on what you've done.
Kerr agrees. 'Taking even one minute to review what you achieved can give you a sense of accomplishment, and on a particularly trying and busy day it can remind you that you got more done than you realised,' he says. 'Happiness research tells us that doing a simple routine like this, and taking the time to reflect on what you accomplished, is a key way to boost your overall level of happiness.'
Successful people have a list of items ready for the morning, and they identify their primary objectives for the following day. 'You may have two or three of them that are top of mind, but commit them to writing so you have a core foundation to work from the next morning,' says Taylor.
'The more you can get everything down on paper that is swirling through your mind, the more likely it is you'll be able to focus on the rest of your life with a clear head and be prepared and ready to go the following day,' adds Kerr.
You're down to the wire on your day, but the communications keep flowing; some urgent and some not -- but all at the last minute. 'This is when your time management skills are put to the test,' says Taylor. 'Successful people are able to decide what requires a response and what can wait.'
You want to defer long conversations that are sensitive until you and your colleague are at your best: in the morning. 'Consider a response that suggests the discussion be held at a specific time the next day,' she says. 'Otherwise, the matter could last well into the evening when your mutual energy is low and you feel rushed. This deferral also gives you overnight to step back and think through your immediate reaction.'
Successful people not only think about the projects they have handled that day; they try to analyse when and why things went right and wrong. 'Savvy professionals know that if they're not learning, they're not growing,' says Taylor.
Great workplaces are built on a foundation of gratitude and recognition. 'Creating a habit around thanking someone at the end of your workday is an incredibly effective way to boost your own happiness level and allow yourself and others to leave on a high note,' says Kerr.
There's no worse way to start your day than arriving at the office and learning you have a big meeting in five minutes.
'Successful people know to review their schedule and plan for the following day -- and most importantly, visualise how the day will unfold,' Kerr says. This will allow you to go into the next workday feeling better prepared, more confident, and less stressed.
How terrible would you feel if you found out a coworker waited around all night for you to send that file you promised, only to eventually realise you've already left for the day, and that file probably isn't coming?
Successful people don't always accomplish everything they planned to, or respond to every email they said they would -- but they do at least let others know that they weren't able to get to the task, or make the decision, or respond to their email today, and they usually provide a status update, as well.
Your projects take much longer to complete when you're not organised. 'Having an orderly desktop and desk will help you think more clearly and prioritise more effectively. It will also help you quickly find important documents when you need them,' says Taylor. 'File digital and hard copy documents for easier access and greater efficiency when you need them next.'
Successful people give their colleagues or employees a heads-up that they will be heading out in a few minutes.
This way, if anyone has anything urgent to discuss or ask you, they won't do it when you're literally walking out the door.
The most successful people take a minute to determine how accessible they can and need to be between now and the following day, and then they communicate that to whoever needs to know.
'Are you going 'completely dark' with absolutely no contact with your office via text, email, or phone? Or are certain exceptions being made?' Kerr asks. 'This will change day to day, and there's not necessarily one right answer. The most important question to ask yourself is, 'What mix of contact/accessibility will allow me the greatest peace of mind during my off hours?''
A friendly 'goodnight' is highly underestimated and requires very little effort. 'It reminds your boss and team that you are a human being, not just a colleague,' Taylor says. It also gives your coworkers a heads up that you're leaving for the day.
Before you head out, give yourself a psychological boost by smiling, Taylor recommends. 'It will prepare you to exude a more upbeat vibe as you check out with your coworkers.' Successful leaders leave a good impression at the day's end, as that's the demeanour that sticks until the next morning.
Successful people avoid the temptation to linger. They know how important work-life balance is, so they try to leave the office at a decent hour.
'Staying around for no good reason will limit your level of energy and success when you need it tomorrow,' Taylor explains.