The 30-Minute Miracle That Will Change The way You Leave The Office

Today, I have one word: Transitions.
How come I am only now realizing this?
To keep my work/life balance intact, I need to be able to transition between activities.
This may seem obvious, but it has only been a few short months since I realized that this applies to me as well my pre-schoolers. I believe I have this aspect of parenting down, and I manage their transitions well.
“We can play for 10/5/3/1 minutes more, then we go home.”
“I’m going count to 10, then turn off the light.”
“I’ll sing another song, then you have to go back to sleep.”
My own transitions were more like this:
It’s 5.55am, and I am leaving the house to catch my train in five minutes. I’ll just wash the laundry and then take the clothes upstairs to dry before I put on my shoes.
It’s 4.55pm, and I need to be out of the office in 5 minutes. I can write another email before I leave.
No! It’s not surprising that I have been so confused. I’ve written before about running to meetings. Although it is true that your children can teach you a lot, I think managing transition time is the most important lesson they have taught me.
New ways to manage work transitions
This is what I’m trying to do instead.
Set alarms for meetings (Outlook does it for you) and get my thoughts together.
It is important to wind down at work at least 30 minutes before I have to leave the office. I don’t have the life I used to live where I could stay and finish my tasks naturally and feel satisfied with my achievements, and then leave. There are trains to catch and boys I want to kiss at night. I need a plan. I also need to be able to stop trying to change from work mode to commute mode in two seconds.

For me, the 30 minute-leave-work transition was the most important revelation. I check my To Do List and make sure I do the important things. I also make sure I have enough time to complete those small tasks, like the half-written email I started at 8am but haven’t finished yet.
I make a list of the most important things that I need to do tomorrow so that I know what I should be focusing on when I get to work. End of the day, I change my message in the office, take my cups back into the kitchen, and check in with my team.
It means that I leave the office feeling calmer and more organized.
Even if it’s just walking back to my house from the shed, where I work from home most days, it is still a commute.
When I’m working in the office, my good feelings of organization and control are often ruined by the constant train strikes and disruptions on the return journey. But, hey, I can’t fix everything!
Could you do the exact same thing to end your work day in a more manageable way and less stressed?