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Use This Effective Routine to Wrap Up Work for the Weekend

Use This Effective Routine to Wrap Up Work for the Weekend

Routines help us move efficiently from one area of life to another. The end of a workweek is a transition that can leave us stressed and overwhelmed, and handling it poorly can make for a really unpleasant start to the next workweek.

Here’s an effective routine you can customize and use to wrap up work for a relaxing weekend and a great start to the next week.

1. Start the routine at lunch time on Friday with one very important question.

Here’s the question: What will I feel GREAT about getting done before the weekend?

Your answer should be only one or two items, not a whole bucket list full. You only have an afternoon left, but if you focus, you can get through some good work before it’s quitting time.

To help yourself do so, though, limit your work socializing on Friday. Everybody wants to move into weekend-mode, and that’s understandable; but it’s much better to stay focused at work for a few hours than to fritter the afternoon away on unproductive shuffling. You’ll still be at work, anyway; you might as well get some stuff done and enter the weekend feeling great about what you’ve accomplished.

2. Work hard on the answer to that question for the next few hours.

Stay as focused as you can and avoid distractions as much as possible. Remind yourself that you are prepping for a great weekend, and you’re going to enjoy it. You’ll enjoy it even more by focusing and using your hours at work well.

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3. About an hour before quitting time, wrap up the task you’ve been working on.

Wherever you are on that task, find a stopping point, even if the task or project you’re working to accomplish is not yet complete.

Many, many tasks and projects are going to span multiple days and even weeks of work. What you should do right now is note the progress you’ve made on this particular task and any ideas or bits of info you’ll want when it’s time to start working on it again.

If you have finished up the task you assigned yourself for the afternoon, great! Wrap up the bits and pieces: papers, open files, and other related items. Don’t leave evidence strewn about or a mess to pick up on Monday.

4. Once you’ve wrapped up your task, update your task list.

Clear or mark off all the tasks you’ve accomplished in the workweek.

Delete any tasks that are no longer relevant; no point in allowing them to take up space on your list.

Delegate any tasks that don’t belong to you, or make a note to do so on Monday.

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Move, migrate, or re-assign tasks that still need to be done, depending on how your task management system works.

5. Take a look at your calendar.

Once you’ve update your task list, you need to take five minutes to look at your calendar for the weekend and upcoming workweek.

The first purpose is just to get a quick overview of what’s coming up for you.

The second purpose is to notice anything big looming on Monday or Tuesday that you want to be prepared to handle. There’s nothing more unpleasant than coming in Monday morning only to be surprised by that report that’s due by Monday afternoon, or the big meeting you forgot about.

If you must, assign yourself one or two tasks to do over the weekend to prepare for your Monday events and workload. Clarify exactly what you need to do, and think about what weekend time you can use for those tasks; put it on your weekend calendar, and don’t worry about it until you get to the assigned time. Then focus, get through the tasks, and then get back to enjoying your weekend.

6. Give yourself notes and reminders for starting the next week.

When you’re in the middle of a project, everything is present and fresh. It doesn’t seem like you could forget the ideas and information coursing through your brain when you’re in the midst of the work.

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But weekends come and new information and ideas take up that brain space. Part of why Monday is so difficult is that our brains are working to rewire themselves back to the “work-related” bits of information that are still hanging out in there but not as accessible because they’re buried by all the “weekend-related” stuff.

Do yourself a favor and leave yourself a breadcrumb trail to follow when you get back to work.

  • For open projects: leave notes of some kind (physical or digital, whichever works best for the project) regarding the task you were doing, your thoughts on it, where you want to pick up, what you were thinking.
  • For calendar items and events: leave information, ideas, reminders, and event details entered into the calendar item so you don’t have to go hunting for them. Set reminders before the calendar event to give yourself a heads up with enough time to do any preparation needed.

7. Wrap up any open communication.

Check your inbox for emails that need to be answered, and answer them quickly. If you need to take time to form your reply, start a response with your initial thoughts, save it as a draft, and mark it in your inbox as a priority so you don’t forget it next week.

Respond to other modes of communication – phone calls, texts, social media messages, and the like – as appropriate.

8. Back up your files and computer.

Run an back-up program to make sure your week’s work is saved and will be waiting for you when you come back on Monday.

9. Straighten up your physical space.

Throw away waste paper. Put your supplies and pens back in the drawer. Stack up books. File away papers.

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Don’t leave yourself a mess. You don’t have to create a haven of perfection, but you can create order.

Your brain will thank you later.

10. Decompress as you move to the weekend.

Transitions are difficult, and routines help with that. Make a decompressing activity the last part of your routine. Exercise is probably the best method; even something as simple as a walk around the block or a set of jumping jacks can help you shake off the work and get energized for the weekend.

Other ideas?

  • Listen to music on your commute home.
  • Spend 10 minutes meditating.
  • Go for a quick bicycle or car ride (if you work from home, you might need to give yourself a “commute” so you have some transition time).
  • Turn the music up and dance!
  • Lay down for a 15-minute power nap.

Now you’re ready for the weekend. You can relax and enjoy your time, knowing that you’ve left things in order and set yourself up for a great week when you get back to work.

Featured photo credit: Jackal1 via flickr.com

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

How about a unique spin on things?

These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

1. Empty your mind.

It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

2. Keep certain days clear.

Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

3. Prioritize your work.

Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

4. Chop up your time.

Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

5. Have a thinking position.

Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

7. Don’t try to do too much.

OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

8. Have a daily action plan.

Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

9. Do your most dreaded project first.

Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

11. Have a place devoted to work.

If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

12. Find your golden hour.

You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

14. Never stop.

Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

15. Be in tune with your body.

Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

16. Try different methods.

Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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