How does your workday end? Do you feel guilty about not getting enough done? Do you stretch yourself for another hour in an attempt to get more done? Or do you just pass out from exhaustion at midnight and close your laptop leaving 15 tabs open?
Entrepreneurs are encouraged to always be “on” which makes it a challenge to actually end your workday on a positive and productive note. Most business owners work extended hours way past the traditional 9-5 work day.
What if you could actually end your workday earlier and still be more productive by getting just as much if not more done? Imagine feeling more organized, having a weeknight to yourself without feeling guilty, and having a clear plan in mind for the following day.
Here are some crucial tips to help you get started.
Get Started Earlier
If you want to end your workday earlier, it’s common sense that you should get started earlier. Becoming a morning person is something you have to train yourself to do if it doesn’t come naturally. Get into the habit of getting up earlier and commit to it for at least a week. The next week will be easier and each week after will get easier until it becomes second nature.
I used to be a great morning person, but then I slowly start slipping into the habit of becoming a late riser.
I still wake up somewhat early around 7 am, but I realized I wasn’t in the mindset to actually be productive and work around that time.
I would get up around 7 am and either go to the gym or for a walk for a bit. Then, I’d sit and go through emails and try to start on an assignment. Then, I’d realize I was hungry and make myself some breakfast.
I’d usually watch something on T.V. or YouTube while eating breakfast and before I knew it, I wasn’t getting into actual work mode until 10 am.
After learning that an entrepreneur friend of mine get up no later than 6:00 and start working no later than 8 am, I knew I needed to make that missing time back up by getting into work mode earlier so I could end my workday earlier.
Try this yourself and see what kind of difference it makes. If you normally start at 10 am and find yourself still working until 6 pm. Set up your schedule to start being productive with work no later than 8 am and perhaps you can finish up by 4 or earlier.
Prioritize Your To-Do List
Having a running to-do list no longer fits the bill. Huge daily lists can lead to anxiety and make you feel unaccomplished if you’re unable to complete something during the day.
Instead of piling everything you’d like to achieve onto one huge list, be more realistic and narrow down your tasks by categorizing them in order of importance. Make sure you prioritize at least 1 daily task that will help you move forward and reach a larger future goal.
Look at how much time you’ll have during each work day and base your to-do list heavily on that factor. If something is important but not as high on the priority list, create space in your calendar for the near future.
After you finish one important project one week, you can tackle the next one the following week instead of trying to juggle both at the same time.
With this method, you’ll end your workday earlier and feel better about your productivity once you’ve been able to check off the super important tasks.
Set a Time to End Your Work Day
If you’re a 9-5 employee, you probably don’t have the issue of deciding when to end your workday. When you’re self-employed, you often have full control over your schedule so you can easily shorten or extend it. Unfortunately, most people choose to do the latter due to the stress and pressure to get more done.
If you’re like me and you work better under a deadline, set a specific time to end your workday each day and stick to it.
When you get started in the morning, you’ll know that you have a running countdown that will expire when you need to ‘clock out’ for the day.
You can even create a recurring calendar notification telling you when it’s time to wind down for the day.
Schedule Light Work During Productivity Slumps
One of the best ways to condense your day is to schedule your daily tasks strategically. You should be scheduling your day at least the night before and determining when you may have downtime or experience a productivity slump.
For me, I know that when I will get less work done at 3 pm than I do at 9 am. I know this by simply being aware of my energy levels and productivity patterns. I’m more productive in the morning as I start my work day and consume some coffee.
Therefore, I schedule my most mentally challenging tasks when I feel most willing to complete them. It’s nearly impossible to remain in a high productivity zone for the entire day. But, when you do get into the zone and lock in a few hours of work, you’ll want to make sure you’re crushing your most important/challenging tasks.
Realize it will take you twice as long to complete heavy-duty tasks when you’re not in the mood and don’t have the mindset to push through.
Schedule work like checking emails, attending meetings, and sending follow-ups for the time of day when you endure a routine productivity slump.
Say farewell to 12-hour work days with these proven strategies. Start by learning your productivity patterns and training yourself to become a morning person even if it starts with just getting up 30 minutes earlier than your usual time.
Do you do any of these things to end your workday earlier? What’s your favorite way to become productive?