Here’s a simple tip to help you feel great when you leave the office each day and hit the ground running when you return in the morning.
Before heading out the door, spend 10 minutes reviewing your calendar, checking tomorrow’s to-do list, and clearing off your desk.
That’s it. A few easy tasks that require little to no brainpower and can be knocked out in short order. (Although if your desk is a disaster, you might need to tackle the job incrementally by organizing the paperwork into neat piles today, putting the files away tomorrow, and so on.)
The important thing is to get in the habit of doing a 10-minute sweep before you leave. It will bring closure to your day and a sense of order to what you’re leaving behind.
“At the end of my work day, I take 10 minutes and kind of put everything away that I can,” says author and happiness expert Gretchen Rubin in this CNBC Make It interview. “I don’t do deep cleaning or deep clutter cleaning, but I will put things in their places.”
Outer Order, Inner Calm
If all this sounds a bit Marie Kondo-ish, well, that’s because it is. Kondo, the Queen of Decluttering, says our lives change for the better when we tidy up our physical space.
Rubin is on the same page. In her best-selling book Outer Order, Inner Calm, she says the way we deal with our physical environment affects the way we feel about ourselves. Taking a few moments to tuck in the loose strands can make a world of difference: “Our surroundings feel more calm, more peaceful and more like a sanctuary.”
An example: Rubin says one of the most important things she does each morning is to make her bed. She even does it when she stays at a hotel. She says it helps her step into the day cleanly and confidently.
For lawyers and other professionals, a 10-minute sweep serves another purpose: it provides a transition from work to home.
“We give children transition times to help them move from one activity to the next, and adults benefit from transitions as well,” she says in the CNBC interview. “Creating this transition makes it easier to turn off my work brain and turn on my home brain because I’ve given myself a little cushion.”
You’ve Only Got 10 Minutes
So what chores should you target first? Start with your desk. Put random papers into files – or the wastebasket. Stash the paper clips where they belong. Snap the caps on pens. In general, neaten things up.
Then you can turn to your calendar. Take a look at your appointments and to-do items. Identify the top three things you want to accomplish tomorrow.
“Doing activities such as these will ‘help to mark the end of the day — and it also makes it far more pleasant to return to work in the morning,’” Rubin writes. “While these tasks may seem minute, ‘all together, they can make us feel drained and overwhelmed.’”
Sure, you’ve got lots of more important stuff to worry about than that empty can of Diet Coke on your credenza. And yet, think about how it feels to be organized – whether it’s your briefcase or your breakroom – as opposed to when things are a mess.
“In the context of a happy life, a messy desk or a crowded coat closet is a trivial problem,” says Rubin. “Yet getting control of the stuff of life often makes it easier to feel more in control of our lives in general.”