Imagine a typical work day. Do you move quickly from activity to activity, task to task, phone call to email to appointment? Or do you have plenty of time to complete each activity before starting the next?
Odds are your day tends to look more like the former than the latter.
In which case, as you start to relax in the evening, you probably become aware of a number of loose ends you need to tie up.
One way to make sure nothing falls through the cracks is to create an “end of the day routine” where you can capture and assign any action items generated throughout the day.
You can easily accomplish this by mentally reviewing your day. Here’s what I mean.
- Set a timer for 15 minutes before the end of your work day.
- Make a pile of any papers generated throughout the day. This includes scraps of papers, post it notes, projects, files; anything you jotted ideas and thoughts on.
- Look through your calendar, paying attention to meetings, appointments, and project due dates.
- Examine your call log.
- Review your inbox and sent email folder.
- Process each piece of paper, think about each appointment, review each phone call, each email.
- Capture each “next step” generated by those actions in a to-do list.
- Shut down your computer.
- Change your outgoing voice mail message.
- Shut off the light.
- Leave for the day.
The best method for capturing loose ends is to note your next steps at the conclusion of each activity, task, meeting, appointment, phone call, email, etc. However, in reality this is not always possible. By creating a time at the end of each day to mentally go through your activities and capture next steps, you can easily ensure that nothing important is omitted. How you do that, and what specific steps you take, are of course depend on the nature of your work, but what’s important is that you do the review.
Don’t start your day trying to remember what you were supposed to remember the previous evening. Instead, start with an organized plan, created by ending your day with an organized plan!