The best afternoon routine for a better tomorrow

It feels like every other blog post in my Feedly reader is about some famous entrepreneur’s morning routine. I know now that Elon Musk eats his Cheerios with almond milk at exactly 6:17am every day and Richard Branson meditates on one leg for eight minutes while thinking about palm trees, and their success is SOLELY attributable to this incredible morning routine.

I’m joking. Mr. Musk eats his Cheerios at 7:05am like a normal person.

Okay, okay, all joking aside, I’ve been thinking about morning routines and wonder if this is something that the entrepreneur community has just latched onto and now talks about ad nauseum, or if there’s something to a routine.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have a solid morning routine. I wake up anywhere from 6:30 to 7:30am and sometimes check emails first thing and sometimes don’t. Sometimes I shower before getting the baby up, and sometimes I’m in my pajamas until the nanny comes at noon. The only constant in my morning routine is that I retrieve the baby from her room upon awakening and feed her and put her down for a nap at the right times, then typically start my work day at 12pm. The details change daily.

With a six month old in my sole care until midday, I’m pretty sure morning routines are not in the cards for at least another six months.

What I CAN get behind, though, is an afternoon routine. Unlike a morning wake-up routine which can be unpredictable with a baby, I know when exactly I will stop working every day and realized there are a few things I currently do without fail before I close out my day.

Do a final scan of the emails. File away what doesn’t require my attention and get the inbox as close to zero as possible.

Update my to-do list. I keep three running to-do lists:

1. My list for the next day in order of priority is Sharpie on paper because nothing is more satisfying than taking a big marker and crossing things off.

2. My list for that week is also on paper, a gigantic Post-It note that I keep stuck next to my computer to keep me focused on the week’s priorities.

3. My long term list is in a Word document that I have open at all times. This document includes strategic priorities for each client so I can always check-in to make sure the work I am doing is towards that greater purpose. It also includes my own business goals, blog post ideas, anything else that pops into my head for 100 Degrees Consulting.

Clean up my desk. Aside from my to-do lists, I’m not a paper person but occasionally I do print out bank statement or other document and I always make sure they’re filed or shredded before the end of the day. Starting the next work day in the midst of a sea of papers would give me major anxiety.

I found a few more great afternoon routine items in this infographic:

  • Sign out of your work email
  • Perform a brain dump
  • Reflect on your day

What does your routine look like? Do you slam the laptop screen shut at 5pm and beeline to the nearest bar? Or do you linger around and chat with colleagues until everyone else leaves? Or maybe you don’t have a stop time and pop in on your laptop until bedtime?