Start Right, End Right 

Start Right, End Right 

Morning and Shutdown Routines That Can Help You Get Into and Out of Work Zones

How you start and end your workday defines your overall productivity. Morning routines can have a significant influence on your day, and how you finish off can make a big difference to how you begin again the following day. Perfecting a daily routine can be a difficult balance. We need to constantly refine and adapt to changing schedules and responsibilities. Some routines suit people better than others, and our body clocks, environments and lifestyles often need different management approaches. It’s often a matter of trial and error, but research and interviews with some of the most successful people in the world generally show that there are routines that can help you to be more productive.

Here are seven habits and routines to start and end your day right:

1. Wake Up Effectively

Our mornings can be a time of energised renewal or frustrated scrambling. Find a routine that suits your preferences. Take some time out in the morning to breathe and prepare for your day. Read the newspaper and other news. Exercise. Drink and eat something that will sustain you. Waking up at the same time each day can also provide a sense of stability in a demanding work schedule. Factor in activities that you look forward to doing in the morning. Take a moment to think about what you want to achieve that day and make it happen.

2. Plan Your Day

Once you’ve settled into your workspace, take some time to plan your workday. Review tasks and prioritise what needs to be done today, and what needs to be done first. Avoid checking your email first thing in the morning, as this can kick-start a reactionary process that can throw you off-course, and distract you from other more important tasks. Allocate time throughout the day to check your inbox, and make time to write and respond to emails. Take note of appointments, phone calls and meetings. Schedule your tasks in an around these, but be flexible as possible when it comes to unforeseen work or interruptions.

3. Start Strong

How you start your morning can affect the course of your entire workday, so get off to a solid start by tackling a task that requires concentration and effort. Often our to-do lists get so long we don’t know where to start, but just starting somewhere could be the key to a productive and effective day. Starting with a bang can also provide a much needed ego boost in the morning, giving you a sense of accomplishment that could inspire you to complete everything else on your task list. Tackle the first task of the day head on and watch the rest flow from there.

4. Review What You’ve Done

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed in the mornings, when we feel like there is so much to do. Take time in the mornings to review your current tasks list, and the steps to take form there to complete all those items on your master task list. Cross off completed tasks. Take note of and update the progress of your tasks so that you feel like you’re on track. Keeping perspective will help you stay motivated as you to-do list continues to grow.

5. Take a Mid-Morning Break

Just before you hit that mid-morning slump, take some time out to prepare yourself for the rest of the day. Get up from your desk and get something to drink. Reply to those messages you haven’t had the chance to read on your phone. Give yourself 10 minutes of headspace to recharge for the rest of the day. Giving yourself the space and time to think can be just what you need to carry on. Often inspired ideas come when you just give yourself a chance to have them.

6. Take Time to Reflect

At the end of the workday, before grabbing your things and leaving your workspace behind, take some time to reflect on your day. Even just ten minutes of conscious reflection on what you’ve achieved will give you a greater perspective of what else needs to be done. Congratulate yourself on your achievements for the day, no matter how small. Write down what you were working on just before you wrapped up and pick up where you left on in the morning. Review your task list and know that there will be time to do more tomorrow.

7. Switch Off

Just stop. Once you’ve reflected on what you’ve done, and what you need to do tomorrow, make the mental shift out of your work zone. Remember that you can only do what you can. Clear your desk of clutter and organise your workspace for the next day. Make a plan to do the rest tomorrow or on Monday. Make a conscious decision to leave the workplace, clear away those dirty coffee mugs and leave the office.

Making Morning and Shutdown Routines Practical

Everyone has different preferences, and finding an effective rhythm will take time, and effort.

Start with one of the routines above and work in the rest over time. Give yourself a chance to find out what works for you. By consciously adding one of the routines to your life every week, over seven weeks you’ll be feeling more productive and aware of how your routines affect your productivity. Test out the suggested routines above but also feel free to create morning and shutdown routines that support you, and allow you to work at your best.