“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
As a follow-up to last week’s column, “Five Things to Do to Start Your Day,” I’m sharing five things to conclude your day, and set yourself up for a fresh start the next day. Admittedly, I don’t have success every day with all of these. The idea is to Strive for Five. Doing one or two will make a huge difference in your anxiety levels, and maybe even improve your ability to get a good night’s sleep.
1: Do something to physically separate from the workday & quiet the noise. One of the strategies I teach my clients is to implement “buffer zones” that allow us to transition from one situation or environment to another. If you haven’t worked out, hit the gym. Take a walk. Go for a bike ride. For people who commute, we tend to use that time to squeeze as much productivity as possible out of the day. Rather than doing one more call, tune into the solitude of the car, call someone that you know will make you smile, or play something relaxing.
2: Get ready for the day ahead. Early in your evening, take a look at what you’re facing the next day, and spend a few minutes preparing. It will remove the scramble from the next day, and you’ll go to bed knowing you are prepared. This also helps you transition away from the day because your mind becomes focused on the future, rather than the past.
3: Eat dinner without rushing. Our workday tends to propel our pace into overdrive. We don’t have to stay in that zone. This is one area that I need to improve. I LOVE good food (I don’t just see food as fuel; I really love it!), and yet I rush through my meals. Of course, the hustle of evening activities can get in the way of the best planning. However, when we can do it, preparing and enjoying a good meal with those we love/enjoy is a great way to transition into a good evening.
4: Shut the electronics. With two teenage boys in the home, and a (mostly) firm rule that all non-school electronics have to be off by 9:30 (including the phone), we can’t be hypocrites. Unless you do a lot of international work (I have clients/colleagues in Australia, the UK, South Africa, the Philippines, and the Netherlands), there is probably no work email that can’t wait until the next day that comes in at 10:00 PM. Recent research presented in Harvard Business Review concludes that work activities that extend past 9:00 PM actually create disengaged employees. Check out the article here.
5: Forgive yourself; Celebrate yourself. You know that at the end of the day, you come down hard on yourself for something that you didn’t get done, for something that didn’t go your way, or for something that you did that you shouldn’t have done. Well, it’s over and you can’t undo it. Instead, recount the progress that you did make. Chances are, in 8-10 hours, you probably did some pretty cool things. And, the new day will bring fresh energy, renewed perspective, and new ideas to tackle your challenges. As Emerson says, ““Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
Finally, I’ll throw in two things that I try to squeeze in at the end of each night. I do a guided meditation to slow my breath and quiet my mind, and I read – even if it’s just for 10-15 minutes. In the evening, I avoid heavy business reading, and instead choose fiction, non-business nonfiction, or a meditation/mindfulness magazine.
To be our best during the day, we must recharge in the evening.
Call to action: Starting this coming week, can you commit to doing 2 of the 5 ideas presented? If so, please post the two you will do on the Successful Culture Facebook page where I will post this blog. Tell me your two actions in the comments section of the post, and I’ll give you daily encouragement!
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