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One of the biggest complaints you’ll hear from people working from home? The struggle to bring their workday to a definitive close.
Time works differently when you’re sitting on your couch staring into a screen all day. Without the usual transitional markers of days spent in the office, like making your morning commute or leaving the office to pick up lunch, it’s easy for the hours to blur together. Suddenly, it’s late in the day, and you’re desperately ready to log off.
But before you do, it’s crucial that you check off a few EOD boxes to ensure your remote success. They’ll help set you up effectively for the day ahead and leave you more in control of your work-from-home process as a result.
1. Put powering-down time on your calendar.
Once you develop a regular end-of-day routine, you’ll know exactly how much time you’ll need to prepare for logging off. Try starting with 20 or 30 minutes, and add it to your calendar for some accountability (as well as to prevent others from seeping into that time).
2. Get to inbox zero.
Rather than intermittently diving into your inbox throughout the day, set a 10-minute timer and devote that time to checking your email. One of those blocks should be toward the very end of your workday. Use it for tying up any loose ends waiting for your attention.
3. Strengthen a relationship.
Just because you’re no longer seeing your colleagues face-to-face doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be dedicating time to connecting with them. If you didn’t already do so earlier in the day, now’s the perfect time to check-in and ask what’s new.
4. Check-in with your boss.
Send over a quick status update for projects or assignments you’re working on, tailoring the amount of detail you’re providing to your boss’ management style. As a general rule of thumb, when working remotely, over-communicating is always better than the alternative.
5. Reflect on the progress you made that day.
What projects did you make serious headway on today? What’s still left to accomplish? Spend a few minutes reviewing what you accomplished that day and, for ongoing projects, what work is still left before you’ve made it to the finish line.
6. Be honest about what you’ve been putting off.
Chances are, you didn’t make it through your full to-do list today — and that’s okay. There will always be more work to do, and accepting that is crucial if you’re going to happily and healthily adapt to remote work. Be generous with yourself, but also be honest about any tasks you may have purposefully pushed down your list. Is there a way to break down that work so that it feels more manageable?
7. Spell out your first steps for the following morning.
Even without the usual frenzy of getting ready for the office, a set action plan — influenced by your reflection time above — is essential for optimizing morning productivity. It’s even better if you can write out your full following day’s to-do list, and color code it according to levels of urgency. But at the very least, identify the first three things you’ll do before 10 a.m. the next morning. (Hint: it doesn’t all have to be related to work, either!)
8. Log off at the same time every day.
Now that you’re ready to close things out, try to make a practice of doing this at the same time each day. Otherwise, if you stay online to answer that “one last email” that just hit your inbox, you’re sending the message to others that your work-life boundaries are porous. Logging off at the same time doesn’t just protect those boundaries; it also helps add some productivity-fueling structure to your workday.
9. Be sure to actually log out.
It’s tempting to simply close your laptop without also closing out of the bajillion tabs you have open. But if your work computer is the same computer you’ll be logging back onto later to watch Netflix, do yourself a favor and close out of work entirely for the day. It’ll help give your mind more breathing room, and it also makes you less vulnerable to hackers.
A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, the largest career community that helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits, and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards, and career advice.