A successful day stems from a great morning ritual, and a serene slumber happens when you implement a nightly routine, but if you want to be truly productive, the way you end each day is crucial. We’re not talking about what you do before you leave the office either; the most important hour at the end of your day is the first one when you get back home. Why? This is when you wipe the mental slate clean, release any stress and worry that’s left over from the workday, and get rid of it, so you can start the next day with a fresh zest and energetic attitude. Scroll down for six things you should do in the first hour you get home to clear the mind for a productive next day.
It can be challenging to switch off from email in an age where everyone requires an immediate response, but it’s absolutely crucial for your sanity and health that you do. If you’re a reply addict like I am, make sure you do one final check when you first get home. There’s nothing worse than a neglected email, and believe me, it will nag at you and beg to be answered. So, to avoid that guilty feeling when you don’t reply, take a few minutes to do a final glance at your email list then assess what’s urgent and what can wait until morning. No one enjoys waking up to an email thread that requires your urgent feedback, especially when it all could have been avoided if you just answered that first email. If you spot an important message that requires more thought but you don’t have time, simply send a quick email acknowledging you’ve received it and you will respond shortly. Just make sure you put this on your to-do list for the next day. Which brings me to my next point.
You’re never going to unwind at home if your mind is still uptight about work. Even though your physical self is sitting on the couch, you won’t sink into the comfort zone until you do a mental download. This is when you write everything down on a notepad or into a device that’s on your mind, and get rid of it. If you don’t, then you’ll keep mulling over it, which means you’re technically still working. This process is really important. It doesn’t have to have any structure either; just jot down your thought processes in the form of a bulleted list—whatever works, so long as you can re-read it in the morning. I have some of my best ideas when I’m outside of the office, so I always keep a notepad handy.
Devices surround us in this modern age, and while technology is great for efficiency and convenience, it’s not so great for our mental health. We are constantly being pinged and buzzed with DMs and IMs from emails to social media, and it can be exhausting, especially after a long day at the office. So to avoid any distractions, make sure to switch off any notifications on your phone, tablet, and laptop. Don’t make the mistake of just putting your phone on silent either; since all three are connected these days, the others devices will still let you know there’s an unread email waiting. To take the legwork out of it, you can schedule a do not disturb period that will silence all your notifications for a set period of time so you can set and forget.
There’s something about the physical process of changing out of your office outfit that helps you to mentally shift from work mode to calm central. There’s a real difference in my mood immediately after I swap my formal attire for casual clothing. It’s not just the act of disrobing that matters, it’s the personal ritual that takes place during this process that’s important, whereby you leave behind your work identity and switch back into your usual self. Home is the one place where you can truly be yourself, and you clothes should reflect that too. Besides, work clothes aren’t comfortable enough to lounge around in.
We all seem to be afflicted with the busy disease these days. Sometimes we’re so hung up on getting our to-do list done that we don’t stop to reflect on our achievements. Take some time to smell the roses every now and then, and give yourself a pat on the back for all the positive outcomes and personal triumphs, no matter how small. Even if your to-do list is only half done, think about it in a glass-half-full (not a glass-half-empty) kind of way, and congratulate yourself anyway. This positive reinforcement is really important for your personal morale and motivation. When you recognise your own hard work, it helps you put things into perspective and gives you a jolt of fresh energy to keep going.
Everything has been switched off, you’ve sent all those final emails, and you've changed out of your office clothing; now you need to sever your mind completely from work and tune into your own life. This is your time now. I personally like to meditate, exercise, journal, have a bath, or practice yoga, something that helps my brain to release any anxiety, stress, or worries from the day and replace it with a sense of inner calm and serenity. Sometimes just the simple act of writing down five things you’re grateful for can bring things back into perspective and help you let go of any negative thoughts or upsetting things that happened during the day. This feeling will only come once you take all the above steps and isolate yourself from distractions and people. How long you set aside for this time is truly individual, but 15 to 20 minutes is a good starting point.
Keen to start your own at-home rituals? Shop our top wellness books below, and find the time to unwind.