The last 10 minutes of your workday are equally as important as the first 10.
“Whatever you do right before leaving the office will have a significant impact on your mood when you get home, the start of your next morning, and thus the entire next workday,” 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.”
She says we all have a choice to be strategic about the next day, or to just bask in the glory of our day’s work being done, distracted by the late-day buzz around us. “Successful people always do the former,” says Taylor. “In fact, most of them have a routine in which they use those last 10 minutes to mitigate tasks that will linger and deter them from being completely focused for the next morning’s events.”
Michael Kerr, an international business speaker and author of “You Can’t Be Serious! Putting Humour to Work,” agrees that “successful people are successful precisely because they have routines, and how they finish their day is an important part of their strategy for success.”
When you’re strategic during the last few minutes of your workday, you’ll build the foundation for a much more productive morning — “and likely reap the rewards throughout the entire next day,” Taylor adds.
Here are 11 things successful people almost never do in the last 10 minutes of the workday:
1. They don’t make big decisions or try to make significant progress on a big project.
“Successful people never tackle a project or make an important decision that requires a lot of brainpower or focus at the very end of the workday,” Kerr explains. “Leave important writing or thinking tasks for the following morning, when your brain is at its peak energy, and instead use this time to focus on clearing off simpler tasks, planning, and reflecting.”
2. They don’t start or assign new projects.
In those last 10 minutes of the workday, there’s a good chance you and your team are already mentally checked out, so you’d be better off waiting until the next morning to start on any new project (or give out any new assignments), when you’re all refreshed and recharged.
“Avoid the temptation to dole out assignments when things are hurried,” Taylor says. “You may not leave enough time for necessary discussion or instructions, resulting in false starts, not to mention a drain on team morale. This kind of task can usually wait for the morning.”
3. They don’t get sucked into someone else’s crisis.
Getting into any sort of emotional conversation or potentially contentious issues at the end of the day can be a sure fire recipe for bringing stress home with you, Kerr says. “And with your energy levels depleted, and your focus likely elsewhere, the end of the day is never the best time to tackle something heavy.”
4. They don’t leave people hanging.
If you promised someone — a colleague, a client, your boss — that you’d respond to an email, give them an update, or provide a response by the end of the day, it’s important that you follow through.
It’s rude and unprofessional to leave someone hanging. “Don’t assume they can wait,” says Taylor. “You wouldn’t want to be the one waiting around for a response, would you?”
Even saying something like, “I know I said I’d get back to you on this today, but unfortunately I won’t get to this until tomorrow,” is better than saying nothing.
5. They don’t leave their desk messy.
Successful people try to never leave their workspace completely disorganized at the end of the day.
“No one likes to start their workday entering a chaotic scene, so taking a few minutes to organise your space ensures you’ll be starting your day with a clean slate. Literally,” Kerr says.
6. They don’t leave without saying goodbye.
“Maybe you had a challenging day, but it’s worth the effort to be seen and say a friendly goodbye to your coworkers and boss,” says Taylor. “Darting for the exit can unwittingly send the wrong message, and in the absence of information, the worst can easily be assumed.”
7. They don’t leave without checking their calendar for the next day.
There’s almost nothing worse than arriving at the office in the morning and learning you have a big meeting in 10 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.
8. They don’t send hasty emails.
“Never send an email that hasn’t been thought through clearly and proofed in your zeal to get it done,” says Taylor. “You may be misunderstood, or worse, cause unnecessary angst because the tone seems terse.” You wouldn’t want someone to go home upset or confused, unable to sleep well that night.
“Instead, consider making a reminder note to yourself about the email for the morning, or save the document as a draft,” she adds.
9. They don’t beat themselves up for not accomplishing everything on their to-do list.
“Rome, as the old expression goes, was not built in a day, and neither is your success,” Kerr says. “One of the worst things you can do is stew about the lack of focus or success on a given day.”
Instead, remind yourself of your “wins.” And if it was a particularly “off day,” then remind yourself that there’s always tomorrow. “Give yourself permission to let go of the negative and start the following day with renewed energy and a fresh start,” he suggests.
10. They don’t feed the rumour mill.
Being friendly is great, but avoid being drawn into office gossip or the rumour mill, which can run rampant at the end of the day.
11. They don’t hang around.
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.
“Don’t allow yourself to daydream or get distracted by something at the very end of the day,” says Taylor. “Move on and out.”
Kerr agrees. “Knowing when to stop can be a key to balancing a busy schedule and creating a balanced life for yourself. So do your best to keep to a schedule.”
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