Walking out your office door after a day of demanding work to the relief of a relaxing, supportive environment is an ideal scenario for most people. A day’s end commute – whether by car, train, bus, bike or on foot – is a formal transition that allows time for changing the figurative position of your mind and the literal location of your body. Not only is the act a mental move toward recovery and rejuvenation, it’s also a physical commitment to rest and recuperation.
But what if your office door is the threshold between the den in your house and its family room?
Without significant commute time or distance, how can we effectively unplug?
Working from Home or other Remote Locations can Challenge your End-of-Day Routine
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, global workplace analytics was reporting a major upward trend in remote work – with a 44 percent increase over the last five years in the U.S. alone. This trend means more and more workers are grappling with the shift from professional to personal time during the last moments of the day.
When working from home, it’s extremely important to implement an intentional process or routine to end the day and make the mental shift to non-working hours. To help remote workers make the most of the end of the day, we’ve compiled the following best practices and recommendations.
Try These Four Techniques for a Productive Close to Your Remote Workday
1. Organize your physical and digital workspace
Post-it notes, piles of paper, empty coffee mugs and water glasses are often inevitable and completely acceptable at the end of a busy workday. Taking the time to clear your home office of these items before the next workday will help you start the day without clutter and distractions that can inhibit your ability to focus.
Tidying up also applies to your digital workspace. Striving for inbox zero might seem like a lofty goal, but taking the time to flag emails for follow-up, saving working documents and closing out all your tabs and windows at the end of the day can help start the next day with fewer distractions.
2. Assign a to-do list and a theme to tomorrow
Writing out tomorrow’s to-do list can help you avoid getting distracted by urgent but unimportant tasks first thing in the morning. Taking that practice a step further with theming can help add focus to the tasks you set out to accomplish. Theming gained popularity when Twitter co-founder, Jack Dorsey, explained that setting themes for each of his workdays allowed him to streamline his productivity; for example, using Monday to focus on management and running the company, Tuesday for product, Wednesday for marketing and growth, and so on. Interruptions and diversions are inevitable whether working from home or from an office, but the overall approach can help focus each workday to come.
3. Set a time to end your workday and stick to it
The temptation to keep working beyond your typical office hours can be an adjustment when working from home. However, research consistently shows that the more hours we work, the less productive we become. At the end of the workday, close out any conversations you might be having with colleagues over chat and sign out of the chat application. Power down your computer and try to avoid checking work emails on your mobile device until the next morning.
4. Get moving
Once you’ve powered down your devices for the day, try to physically separate from your workspace. This could be taking a walk around the block, going for a bike ride or doing any activity that gets your heart pumping. Exercising releases endorphins that make you feel happy. This hit of happy feelings can serve as another indicator that the workday is done.