An end-of-day strategy to stay effective
There are only so many hours in the day and they often seem to fly by. From meetings to email correspondence to employee drop-ins, a leader's time can quickly be accounted for without making much of a dent in our to-do list.
Not accomplishing tasks can add stress. We leave the office thinking about what we didn't get done, and worrying about how that'll impact tomorrow's schedule. If we're not careful, we'll get burned out. That's why it's important to put yourself in the right mindset to disconnect at the end of the day.
Productivity expert Charlie Gilkey has a strategy to help: The "15-minute checkout."
"With the 15-minute checkout, you'll take a brief pause at the end of each workday to evaluate the day you just had and also set yourself up to successfully start anew the next day," Gilkey writes. "It's a simple routine that, done consistently, will empower you to reject the everything-is-a-priority mindset so prevalent in today's workplace. At last, you'll be able to 'clock out' without worries or distractions."
Ask yourself these three questions to complete the daily checkout:
- What did I accomplish? Reflect on what you were able to get done during the day. Even if it wasn't on your initial to-do list, it's still an accomplishment and won't be waiting for you tomorrow. Reframing your thoughts to your "wins" will keep you from being too hard on yourself.
- Is there anything I need to do right now to be able to disengage? If you leave the office feeling like your forgot something, you won't be able to decompress at home. Gilkey recommends taking a few minutes to go back through your inbox and to-do list to see if there's anything that must still get done. If you're leaving in the middle of a project, take notes about your progress and current thoughts to help you get back into it tomorrow.
- When do I need to do the things I didn't get done today? Prioritization is key. Random tasks and new projects pop up unexpectedly throughout the day, adding to your already long to-do list. Give yourself some time to draft a realistic – not aspirational – timeline, and consider if there are any tasks you can delegate.
No one is perfect – all of us have left the office wishing we got more done. But don't let high expectations for yourself ultimately be your downfall. Rather, be realistic about your commitments and capacity, and accept where you are each day.
This end-of-the-day checkout is a great addition to six tips I recently shared to help leaders stay mentally fit. Add it to your management arsenal so you can keep performing at the highest level.
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