In the home office, working life is blurred with private space. That is why it is advisable to make a clear cut after work. An expert explains how.
A technical article by Inga Höltmann, founder of the New Work platform Accelerate Academy.
Hand on heart: do you get up at 4 a.m. to do yoga, meditate, have a reading and journaling session, and then have completed half of your to-do list before 10 a.m.?
We all know reports about the morning routines of many (more or less successful) people – and those who are self-respecting give themselves such a morning routine. There are very different approaches and mostly you have to get up early because such a routine takes a bit. Sometimes it only takes a few minutes, others take several hours.
The idea behind it: To set a basic mood for the day and to create fixed structures that become good habits. And it’s mostly about optimization and excellence.
Giving structure in the home office yourself
But even without striving for self-optimization, such routines can do us good and help to give us structure and to organize ourselves better. But what about the evening? As much as you can read about morning routines, so little about evening routines.
Because if the corona pandemic has shown us one thing, it is this: that we urgently need an evening routine. It helps us to close the day, to plan the next day and, above all, to set ourselves apart from our work – and that is even more important in the home office than in the office. Because there, shutting down the computer and going home is a kind of after-work ritual – even if we may not be so aware of it. In the home office we lack this structure and we should give it to ourselves.
Five tips for evening routines
Here are some elements that are part of my personal routines that you can also include at the end of your work day:
- I plan mine Working day in the home office every hour by: I determine when it starts, when I take breaks and when I finish work. That doesn’t mean that I’m slavish, but it helps me with the processing of my tasks and I can see when I’m nearing the end of the day and when it’s time to gradually finish the day’s work.
- At the end of the day I go through my daily to-do list again and cross off what I have worked through or what may have been done by itself. What I have achieved, I transfer to my daily done listthat reminds me of what I’m working on and what I’ve achieved. This also helps a lot to assess what you can realistically achieve in a day and it also shows what you spend your time on. Sometimes I also do tests in which I also note the exact length of time that I have spent on a task on my done list – this helps a lot on days when I tweak my planning and structure.
- Take yourselves Time for a quick reflection. You can do this every evening or just at the end of the week – whichever fits your daily routine better. Make a to-do and a done list, listen inside and ask yourself: What went well? What can I do better? And what was left behind – why was that? I recommend you make a few notes here to visualize progress or changes over the weeks.
- Operates in the evening Desk hygiene: I throw away old notes, sort the documents that are on my desk, close the windows in my browser. It is best to shut down the computer in the evening. But if you still use the computer after work – for example for the evening Netflixen – I recommend creating a second profile on the computer. I have one that I have called “afterwork”. There is no data on this profile, just a browser that I use occasionally.
- Enter yourselves After-work ritual – anything that marks the end of the day. Celebrate the day and what you’ve accomplished. Look in the mirror, put on some evening make-up, if you like that, change your clothes, brew tea, pour yourself some wine. Whatever it is that you enjoy, do it. And that should really be the very last thing when it comes to the well-deserved evening.
It is important with such evening rituals that they are really the end of the working day. The end of the day and the end of the day should be sacred to you – make an effort to really keep the mailbox closed afterwards and do not take on the project again briefly when the children are in bed. It is about a clear demarcation, especially in times when a lot of life and work takes place in your own walls. The changes in the world of work make it possible, from a purely technological point of view, that everyone is always available, but this also means that we have to learn anew not to be available in order to switch off and maintain our health. And an evening routine helps us with that.