Quick question, reader: what does your workday look like?
If you’re like most people, you probably start by sitting down in front of your computer with a vague idea of what you should be doing. You check your emails, get distracted, and eventually spend too much time on trivial tasks. To make up for it, you work on important projects past the point of optimal productivity, leaving you drained and anxious.
If you find yourself in this situation often, consider creating a shutdown ritual. If you’re not familiar with the term, this is a simple series of tasks you carry out at the end of the workday. The idea is that completing these tasks allows you to complete your workday and prepare for the next. Here are four simple tasks you may want to incorporate into your shutdown ritual.
- Review Your Progress
The very first thing you should do is review your workday. Ask yourself what tasks you managed to achieve and what you did right to achieve them. Then turn it around: what tasks haven’t you achieved and why were you unable to achieve them? By asking these questions, you’ll get a much better idea of whether you’re getting things done or not.
- Clean Up Your Workspace
We all know that getting your physical workspace organized helps you focus, but what about digital workspaces? As it turns out, they follow the same logic. A busy digital space will create “mental clutter,” increasing your susceptibility to task-switching and distractions.
To avoid this, take a few minutes to reset your digital workspace. Save any uncompleted work, shut down your tabs and windows, and log out. That way, you’ll start the next workday with a clean slate, getting you in the right mindset straight away. Think of logging out as the line that delineates work and play.
- Write a To-Do List for Tomorrow
Writing out tomorrow’s to-do list serves two major purposes. First, it helps you stop thinking about work, making it easier to kick back and recharge. Second, it increases your willpower. Every decision we make throughout the day drains a bit of our mental energy, and starting the day with a clear to-do list will cut down on the number of decisions to make.
- Perform a Ritual Action
Much like logging out, performing one final ritual action will make the invisible border between work and personal time more clear. This action could be anything at all, from taking a “mock commute” walk around the block to bashing out a quick chore.
Another thing you can do is come up with a phrase that marks the end of your workday. For instance, you could say “That will do it for today” or “Shutdown complete.” Words are powerful, and a verbal affirmation can make you feel authoritative. Make sure to repeat this phrase after every workday, regardless of how well it’s gone.