We don't realize how much what we do after work hours impacts our workday productivity, but your workday success hinges, in large part, on how you spend your time once you’ve left the office.
The following are five tips to ensure you not only have a fulfilling evening, but also the most productive tomorrow you’ve ever had.
1. Have a 'plan jam' every evening
The most important thing you can do to ensure your success is to plan for it, because planning your work is the most important work you do. And to plan effectively, you must review effectively. You can start by looking back on your day. What were the hits and misses? What did you learn and where do you need to follow-up? List out the most important tasks you have to complete tomorrow (your “crucial results”). If it makes sense, share these tasks with your team to ensure everyone is on the same page and is held accountable.
Once you’ve decided your crucial results for tomorrow, configure your calendar to reflect the blocks of time needed to accomplish those results. Include time for the meetings you’ve scheduled (and that you’ve prepared for), the “flex time” you’ll need to handle administrative tasks and the time-sensitive items you hadn’t planned for that will invariably show up. By doing this, you’ll wake-up with your subconscious dialed-in and “ready to rock.” That positive momentum is hard to stop.
2. Socialize and nurture relationships daily
Living a fulfilled and productive life means every day fitting in who and what you love and need, instead of “living for the weekend.” Trudging through five days to get to two days of freedom isn’t living. Instead, condense your ideal life into every 24 hours.
Your ideal day likely includes quality time with the people you love. Try participating in an activity together that nurtures your relationship and stimulates your brain. Converse, ask questions and explore life’s most interesting topics with one another.
3. Don’t wait, expand your horizons tonight
Get involved in a social activity that is also educational, like going to dance lessons, enjoying live music, attending a networking event, going to the museum, etc. These things are not reserved just for Saturday and Sunday!
Give yourself the opportunity to recharge and expand your brain. Engaging in creative and educational activities outside of the scope of your profession is actually a smart business strategy. Stepping away from your work and engaging in something new can help you bring a new perspective to the office and ensure that you’re avoiding mental and emotional ruts.
4. Read and journal
If the thought of writing makes you twitch, drop the expectation and write just for you -- it’s good for you, I promise! People who take just 15 to 20 minutes a day to journal their feelings tend to improve their health outcomes (physical and emotional) compared to those who don’t.
Take the time, right before bed, to journal and read. Journaling helps me get all thoughts out of my head, rids me of any anxieties, allows me to state my gratitude and prepares me to “crush” the following day (not to mention sleep soundly). Reading reminds me that learning is the most important thing in life, and it allows me enter sleep creatively and ready to explore an exciting tomorrow.
5. Rest up
I know a lot of entrepreneurs who don’t get much sleep and I understand why. They’re busy disrupting industries, improving the world, changing the status quo and/or simply trying to make an entrepreneurial venture work! But sleep is not a necessary evil, it’s just plain necessary if you expect to be a high performer.
We can “hack” our ways to more productivity, but none of us should try to hack sleep. That just doesn’t work. I recommend getting as close to 7.5 hours of quality sleep a night as you can. You’re simply not going to be your best self if you’re running on low energy. Bragging about how little sleep you get isn’t cool (unless you’re in high school). Don’t know how good is the sleep you get it? Learn! I use a Basis watch to understand and analyze my sleep patterns. It’s helped immensely, plus it’s fun.
Now that you’ve packed fun, rejuvenation, bonding and creativity into your everyday, you’ll find that your work hours are more purposeful and productive. Don’t just get through the workday, thrive throughout your entire day.