Surfing the web gets a bad rap, but when you stumble upon articles and posts that have workplace relevance (and that are so smart, you wish you’d penned them), there’s real satisfaction. Such was the case yesterday, when a little aimless clicking led me to 14 Things You Should Do at the End of Every Work Day, an engaging summation of how ending your workday on a positive note, and with a few routine rituals, can enhance overall effectiveness and on-the-job enthusiasm.
Right away I could relate: When the day’s to-dos don’t get crossed off the list, I proceed into post-office hours preoccupied and silently stressed, recapping all the tasks left undone instead of being present with my kids and husband. Then somewhere around 10 pm, despite my best efforts, I wind up hunched over my laptop again, trying to get at least one or two things crossed off the list that will make the next day feel in the black, not red.
If you’re nodding yes, then right now is a good time to take stock of your state of mind every morning when you belly up to your desk, and later, at night, when you push that chair in and turn off the light. If the image that you’re conjuring up has you scowling, this read’s for you. And likely, everyone you share an office space with.
Though the bulk of these tips are common sense, I’ll wager that most are off your radar. Especially this one: Reflect on the day.
I surmise that many of us do this, only without the rose-colored lenses that would leave us feeling pleased rather than irritated, or proud rather than disappointed.
With life being so unpredictable, Jacquelyn Smith is doing us all a favor by offering preventive medicine to help keep us in line—and aligned—when outside influences threaten to unravel our workday. Which we all know, can be instigated by something as trivial as the scanner malfunctioning.
If you’re ready to make a change in how your work week is going to roll, here’s another suggestion: get a handle on interruptions.
Easier said than done, this plays right into changing the outcome of your workday and is one of the deciding factors in whether that to-do list does or doesn’t get completed.
If you’re flying solo, or work in a more laid-back setting with unconventional parameters (read: spontaneous meetings, online chats via TeamBox, CampFire, GoogleChat and other in-house communications tools), it is much easier to minimize intrusions. But in traditional environments, avoiding long meetings, others’ conversations, ringing phones, email, people knocking on your office door, etc., is a challenge. You can’t hide because everyone knows you came into the office today. So when your boss comes calling for that document, presentation, cost analysis, creative brief or other deadline-pending assignment, you’re scrambling and sweating. And, you’re stuck doing what I mentioned above, making up for lost time after hours. It’s a vicious cycle, and as Jason Fried eloquently explains in this Q+A, a widespread epidemic in the modern workplace.
Having worked both in an office and at home, but still with disruptions (aka kids), and spent too much time driving too and from meetings that could have taken place over the phone, or resulted in no measurable business or increased brand visibility, I am chugging Fried’s Kool-Aid. His POV isn’t for everyone, but with technology where it is, even the most staunch corporate leaders should find value in his words. After all, what he’s selling is what all bosses want from their employees: less talk, more action.
So there you have it. A foolproof plan for a more productive, satisfying day at the office. Thank you Ms. Smith and Mr. Fried.