You arrive home from work and completely forgot to stop at the bank, the store, the pharmacy, the _____. How did I space that out? You wake up at 2 AM and relive the outcome of the meeting with your boss, coworker, direct report, ______. You not only relive it one or two times–you relive it twenty times by the time it’s 2:15 AM. Not a good night’s sleep. You open your front door after a full day’s work and all you want to do is zone out with a glass of wine and Grey’s Anatomy reruns. The last thing you want to do is hear about your partner’s lousy day. Not a very healthy or positive end to your day.
There is an answer for this end-of-day malaise and ensuing erosion to your health and happiness. I subscribe to an app called Whil. One of the series on the app is called “Live Fully Every Day” by Peter Bonanno. I have been using his “End Your Workday Cleanly” for about a week and the transition from work to home has vastly improved. Instead of waking up at all hours of the night with a huge to-do list for work, replaying the not-so productive production meeting, or trying to escape into Never Neverland when arriving at home–I’ve found I am finally able to bring closure to the day.
Here are ideas for clearing out your day:
- Journal at workday’s end. This has been a real life saver for me. I sleep better and am able to transition into my life at home much more energized. Bonanno recommends writing this with pen and paper. Melanie Pinola equally recognizes the importance of handwriting your thoughts in her Life Hacker article: “The Wall Street Journal discusses several studies that show students who took handwritten notes outperformed those who typed their notes on their computers. Compared with those who type their notes, people who write them out in longhand appear to learn better, retain information longer, and more readily grasp new ideas, according to experiments by other researchers who also compared note-taking techniques.” So take out a piece of paper at the end of the workday and answer these prompts:
What I am feeling right now is…
What’s left for me to do another time is…
What I’m grateful for today is…
This is a great brain dump that clears you head. And it ends on a high note by highlighting what you are grateful for, which is a positive punch to the end of the workday.
- Transition when arriving home to a quick walk with a friend or significant other. As Bonanno pointed out, he and his wife walked at days end, but since they were not journaling, the walks took forever and started to turn into a pity party at times. After starting to journal at the end of the work day, the walk with his spouse took maybe 10 minutes of recounting the day. It became a much more positive experience. Positivity is good and helps your evening get off to a great start. So you’ve done your brain dump, you’ve connected with a loved one and now you are going to have a much better evening.
- 10 minutes of daily planning. At your day’s end, do what Stephen Covey has espoused for decades. Take ten minutes to plan your next day. This along with the journaling helps you schedule the various things you never got to and places them in plain sight for the next day of work. I’ve been doing this for at least a decade and I am rarely caught off guard by missing something. It’s also part of Choice 3 of the Franklin Covey’s Five Choices to Extraordinary Productivity. Couple this with 30 minutes of weekly planning, and both will keep you on target with your personal vision and mission.
Self-reflection on a daily basis is a way of acknowledging what you have accomplished. It’s so easy to get caught up in what you didn’t do instead of what you actually did. Instead of thinking about “what went wrong”, think of “what didn’t go wrong”. The glass is half full.