Right. You definitely don't want to spend an extra five minutes at work, sit in silence and take a few deep breaths, or get your addiction to your beast of an inbox under control — but you know what? If you want to have a happier, more focused, more get-it-done day tomorrow, those are the exact things you should do. At first, you might have to force yourself to actually do them, but soon they'll become second nature. Here are 10 to try tonight:
At the end of the day, prep tomorrow's to-do list
Take five minutes before leaving the office to set up your plan for what needs to be accomplished tomorrow. You can even block out periods of time in your calendar just to give yourself the opportunity to get it all done. This small step can help because "you're identifying the things you need to do while still awake rather than ruminating about what needs to be done when you get into bed," says David Brendel, MD, PhD, Boston-area psychiatrist and executive coach at Leading Minds Executive Coaching. The only catch: "You need to make a clear promise to yourself that you won't deal with it until the morning," he says. The next day, you'll be primed to dive right in.
And while you're at it, tidy up your desk, too
"There's something about cleaning up the day — and cleaning up your desk — that allows you to tuck everything away and go to sleep," says Brendel. So take another five minutes to throw things away you don't need, gather loose papers, and toss those old snack wrappers. Of course, there are some people who thrive on "messy chaos" — and if that's you, feel free to ignore this advice — but for the most part people work more effectively with organization, he says.
Block out email time
That's right: permission to tackle your inbox at night. "It's not realistic to tell certain people that they can't check email at night," says Brendel. Rather than letting your inbox have a free-for-all with your evening, devise a structure for checking that works for you. "Know yourself and make a plan," he says. For example, maybe you don't look at your phone from five to seven p.m. when you're hanging with the family, but then you log on and return whatever emails are needed for a half hour. After that, the phone goes off (or at least across the room). That way, you get the benefit of being unplugged but won't wake up to an inbox that makes you feel like you're drowning.
Keep a consistent bedtime
When you go to bed late, it's tempting to wake up later — especially over the weekend. Keeping an inconsistent sleep-wake time throws off your circadian rhythms. When you sleep in on the weekend, you have trouble falling asleep on Sunday night — and you begin the week on Monday sleep-deprived, explains Robert S. Rosenberg, board-certified sleep medicine physician and author of The Doctor's Guide to Sleep Solutions for Stress & Anxiety. It may take you a whole day to get back to your normal weekday sleep-wake cycle. That's not worth it for a Monday spent dragging. Over the weekend, stick to the same schedule as best you can. You have about a half hour to an hour of wiggle room, says Rosenberg.