5 Easy Ways to Finish Your Day With A Bang

End Your Day With A BangGetting a lot of work done at the end of the day can be really tough — especially if it happens to be a Monday, Thursday, or Friday.

Time seems to slow down, motivation slowly seeps away, and I’d swear that work becomes exponentially more difficult. Something about late-afternoons just isn’t good for productivity.

With a few tricks, though, it’s possible to turn those sluggish afternoons into something altogether more productive. Not only that, if you can take an incredibly productive morning and then finish it off with a productive afternoon, you’ll be on track to hit life-changing levels of productivity.

With that in mind, here are 5 easy ways to finish your day with a bang:

1. Set a Concrete Ending Time

Ever noticed how, as a freelancer, some afternoons seem to stretch into forever? Do you sometimes find yourself working late into the night trying to wrap up little things that could have been finished earlier?

One of the best ways to improve your productivity is to set a concrete, no-excuses, ending time. Anything that doesn’t get finished by that time, maybe 5pm, will have to wait until tomorrow. Having this solid end time will force you to pay more attention to what gets done during the work day, especially towards the end — I can guarantee you’ll be more productive as a result. (For those of you who are night owls, this trick can still be applied on your own schedule…)

2. Have an Afternoon Snack

One of the primary reasons that afternoons are difficult has to do with the way most of us eat. Three meals a day, ironically, is not very conducive to being extremely productive. A few hours after lunch you’re blood sugar will drop (if you’re human), and rest assured that your energy and motivation will disappear right along with it.

Luckily, this late-afternoon productivity killer has a tasty solution — eat a snack. Not only will a small afternoon snack help your productivity, it will also keep your metabolism running and will help you lose weight. Which might just be better than productivity :-)

3. Go For a Walk

Another big reason for reduced productivity late in the day is pretty obvious: sitting at a computer all day is tough. It’s not tiring in the same as working in construction or another physical job, it is tiring mentally. Not only is it difficult to be productive after sitting at a computer for several hours, it’s also very bad for you physically (especially your eyes).

Do yourself and your business a favor — get up and go for a walk. Most experts recommend 5-10 minutes for every hour on the computer, but I’ve found that you can see great results from even less than that. Give it a try and see what works best for you.

4. Review Your Priorities

Once your physical concerns are taken care of, it’s time to take a sobering look at what still needs to get done before the end of your day.

Pull out the to-do list that you created in the morning (you did make one, didn’t you?) and review what’s been done so far and what’s still outstanding on the list. Think about the following questions, being as realistic as you can be:

  1. What’s the most important thing left on your list?
  2. Are there any time-intensive tasks that aren’t really needed?
  3. Which items need to get done TODAY, which can done later?

The goal of your review is to create a manageable workload for the rest of your afternoon — a list of tasks that will make you smile when you think about everything you accomplished today. You also need to be honest with yourself about what tasks are no longer possible for this day, and plan to tackle them with a vengeance tomorrow.

5. Get Excited & Get to Work

Your body is taken care of, you’ve prepped your mind to work for the rest of the afternoon, and you even have a list of everything that needs to be finished. It’s time to get pumped up, dig your feet in, grab a cup of coffee or tea, and start working.

Chances are you only have a few hours left, so now it’s time to put on your superhero cape and see just how much work you can get done before the day is over.

Once you’ve become an afternoon productivity master, check out the companion article to this one: 5 Easy Ways to Start a Productive Day.

What do you think? What are your favorite afternoon productivity tips?

Comments

  1. says

    These are great tactical ideas; I’ve definitely used suggestions one through four with much success.

    Suggestion five, though, IMHO, is something that may best be addressed by a deeper exploration of _why_ you’re doing what you’re doing in the first place. If you can align your livelihood with your passions, you’re probably not going to need to worry about getting some fresh air and setting an end time.

    I know that for me, #1-#4 were simply band-aids for a deeper issue: lack of engagement and passion for what it is that I was doing. Methinks that other folks perhaps feel the same way?

    Also, on the matter of snacking — folks should be sure to choose a snack that will not cause their blood sugar to rise dramatically. Nuts and berries = good; Ho Hos and brownies = bad :)

  2. says

    Number 1 is really important in my opinion. It’s important to schedule your time with a defined quitting time. As Scarlet said, “After all, tomorrow is another day”.

    Taking breaks are also a good idea, again I would build them into your schedule. Rushing from one project/meeting/assignment/Etc. to another just brings on more stress. Add ten minutes between them and more than likely you won’t feel rushed and you may be able to just sit back and daydream an answer to a problem.

    I generally schedule about an hour in the afternoon just to rest. Sometimes it’s a nap, or a bowl of ice cream (that was today’s) or a chance to catch up on the ball scores or the entertainment news.

  3. says

    I was always scared to do any of the above because I felt that not working all the time would be my downfall, but it’s the other way around. Working all the time is some peoples’ downfall!

    I never spend time on projects outside working hours, even if I’d had a bit of a late start. If I was working for a company and had an appointment at 10am and got to work at 11am, they wouldn’t expect me to work an extra 2hrs 30mins after work. They’d either take it out of my salary or put it down as holiday/leave. So that’s how I work it out.

  4. says

    A useful series of tips here, some more obvious than others! I think it is always important to set priorities and a timescale when working to deadlines, otherwise your workflow will just fall apart.

    The physical side to keeping your concentration and productivity are commonly overlooked, often all the effort goes into planning the work schedule but ignoring your body’s needs. Simple things like having an afternoon snack to keep your blood sugar up is a nice quick solution to a lack of energy, but also just taking a break from staring at the screen every hour can really refresh you, so thanks for including these!

    Maybe a good combination of both would be to draw up a schedule at the beginning of the day, prioritising work by every hour, with a 5 – 10 min break at the end of each hour. The day would be divided up into more manageable blocks of work, and hopefully have a noticeable effect on productivity – certainly worth a try!

  5. says

    I think the first one here about a firm finish time is probably one of the most useful. If I am meeting someone for lunch then I always make sure that I finish what I’m working on before I leave the desk. I can see that it would work the same in the evenings as long as you stick to it. When I’m at my teaching job I don’t have time pressure to go home afterwards so I often find myself hanging around after work. This would get me out. Great advice. Nic

  6. says

    Snacks are good but make sure don’t make yourself full because that would make you sleepy especially during afternoons. Trust me, don’t feed your body with too much calories to burn. Considering that most of freelancers have sedentary lifestyle- too much food to digest in your stomach will decrease sugar supply to your brain that may tempt you to get on bed. I guess adequate sugar and oxygen supply on your head will keep your performance on a good level.

    Personally I practice #4 all the time, I do this together with my list. It’s great and motivating too see my list having this cross signs which means I have completed my tasks. I always have this aim to have my list all crossed out.

  7. says

    A great five tips. I especially agree with taking a walk. The walk is less important that just getting you body moving, a few push ups, a few jumping jacks, or maybe even if you just keep a jump rope around the office. Thanks again and good luck to everyone getting through the week.

  8. says

    I agree that these are some really helpful tips to having a more productive day. I think that going for a walk is not just refreshing physically but also revitalises and stimulates the mind. I find that with my work when it gets nearer to the time to go home I get less motivated as I know I’ll be going home soon, so its good to freshen up a little and get more productive.

  9. says

    I just found this blog and I am so thrilled! If there has been one bad part about freelancing for me, it’s been feeling like I am unproductive. And since I only have myself to blame for that problem, it’s been a vicious cycle of being unproductive, then feeling bad, then not wanting to work because I feel bad…

    I really appreciate all the enthusiasm here and the reminder that what I really need to do is sit down and work!

  10. says

    Productivity is something that I am always considering while I work at home. Compartmentalizing my day will help me get more varied things done. That is my goal.

    I especially like your tip suggesting that a person sets a specific time to quit. I will take your advice.

  11. says

    I always go for a real long walk in the mornings (9am-10.30am) then arrive home get washed sort a few house duties – then start work. I always feel refreshed and ready to “commence battle”!

  12. says

    Great suggestions for re-focusing! I like to add a little twist to the daily to-do list. If I am successful in accomplishing the most challenging thing on my to-do list, I will treat myself to a reward of some sort. It may be buying a new book, indulging in an extra long walk the next morning, planning a day away from the office, or just making a special cup of tea. It’s funny how even the smallest motivational “carrots” fuel the focus and enthusiasm!!

  13. says

    I have to admit that leaving the work for some rest is the hardest thing for me to do, Its a bad habit of me to complete work in one sitting. But whenever i actually succeed in going for walk, miracles happen :P

Trackbacks

  1. [...] I happened across a great blog by entrepreneur Mason Hipp of FreelanceFolder.com. Hipps’ blog “5 Easy Ways to Finish Your Day With a Bang” is exactly that: 5 things you can do to push through those lethargic, Bejeweled doldrums and finish [...]

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