I’ve admitted to you more than once that I’m a morning person. Part of preparing for the morning includes the 5 minutes tonight, 5 minutes tomorrow practice we talked about a few weeks ago. But there’s also something to an end of day routine. I actually started writing this piece a while ago, and then this article from the New York Times about President Obama’s evening routine prompted me to finish it.
I like routines because they stimulate creativity. You see, if daily habits allow your body to shift into auto-pilot, then your mind is excused to think and create. Routines make that possible. And even though I’m best in the mornings, one of my favorite routines is the end-of-day routine.
I actually have two alarms set on my phone. The first triggers the end-of-day process, and the second signals that it’s time to stop and catch the bus. And in-between those alarms, I go through these steps:
- Check the teux-deux list for any critical items that cannot wait until tomorrow. If I let an overlooked task bite me, well… then tomorrow’s going to begin in panic mode.
- Switch from overhead lighting to lamps. I find this sensory reminder to shift gears quite calming.
- Check tomorrow’s calendar.
- Prioritize tomorrow’s teux-deux list. (If you dream big, you probably need to cull the list down.)
- Close any browser tabs or programs still open. I’m so bad at leaving tabs open. But I find that when I take time to close the pages I’m completely finished with, I can then click my OneTab button to save all open pages to one place.
- Straighten my desk.
- Rinse out my coffee cup. (Notice I didn’t say wash or sterilize. I’m just staying one step ahead of the petri dish, baby.)
- Head to the bus.
If I remember a task later, I can add it to my teux-deux list through the mobile app. This happens a lot, and since the apps on my phone and computer are synced, it’s actually quite convenient.
The beautiful thing about going through the process of shutting down my work system is that it allows me to enjoy my evening knowing I’m poised for tomorrow.