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By Bob Garner


Mark Twain once said, “You have to take your brain out and dance on it.” In other words, you need to give your mind some downtime tonight, if you want to have a more productive tomorrow. With that said are you a person who spends weekends and evenings worrying about business? Do you think about meetings, emails, and office politics? If so, it’s time to learn how to use your free-time more productively. Not only is your time away from the concerns of the workplace necessary, but a rested mind is more efficient and productive.


Dr. Barbara Mackoff describes a number of techniques to help you leave work at the workplace in her book, “The Art of Self-Renewal: Balance Pressure and Productivity On and Off the Job” (Lowell House, 1992).


One of the first steps is learning how to leave in the evening – shifting from the fast, demanding pace of the workplace to the more relaxed rhythms of the home. Try these ideas for making the transition easier:


  1. End the day with the low-pressure work. In your last hour of work, you may be doing your most demanding tasks. If the day ends in this kind of stressful rush, you’re bound to take that intensity home with you. Instead, try to end the day with easier, less pressured work. Clear your desk, put stuff away, read professional literature. Even better, this is a great time to return phone calls or emails. (Don’t you hate it when people don’t return your calls or emails? I’m sure that you do, so don’t do it to other people. If calling back takes too much time, then send an email. Keep your replies short and friendly. No one is that busy that they can’t return emails.)


  1. Make a list of what you need to do the next day or the beginning of next week. Alleviate apprehensions you feel about tomorrow by setting up your plan right now. List everything you want to do. Decide if any tasks can be delegated or handled later in the week. Then assign a priority to each item and preferred time of day to tackle it. Before I go to sleep, I take a notepad and write everything down that I need to do the following day. (Sometimes this list can be two full pages!) The next day, as I finish each task, I not only feel a wonderful sense of accomplishment, but I also am amazed at how much work I’ve done.


  1. Create a closing ceremony, a routine you will perform every day before you leave. Tear a page from the wall calendar and drop it into the waste bucket; log off the computer; ask co-workers about plans for the evening, put a sign up in your office or cubicle that reads, “I’m here, you just can’t see me!” or “Gone home.” No matter how simple the closing ceremony, it has the power to indicate the day is done and your evening or weekend has begun.


Start tonight and take your brain out for a dance. Not only will you have a more productive tomorrow, but there’s also no cover charge and you don’t even have to dress up! What could be better than that?


Bob Garner is the author of "Masters of Motivation" which has been called a “must read” by business leaders. The creator of a number of CDs that have empowered thousands, Bob writes for numerous business magazines and speaks extensively worldwide on motivation, sales, and success. Sign up now for his free monthly newsletter called "Personal Success" at