How to Be Productive During the Last Hour of Your Workday

It’s 4pm, and you can hear the clock ticking. Counting down those final moments until clock out. You feel like you can almost taste it…and before you know it, you’ve wasted that final hour of your day just waiting for your day to end!

Don’t let the last hour of your workday be the time when your productivity plummets. There are still so many things you can do to stay efficient and get things done before you head home for the night. Next time 4pm hits, try these 5 ways to stay productive in the last hour of your workday!

5 Ways to Make the Most of That Last Hour in Your Workday

1. Make your to-do list

At the end of your workday, be sure to set yourself up for success in the day to follow. Look back at the tasks you completed during your day and assess what needs to be taken care of tomorrow.

A super-efficient way to create to-do lists that work is by using the Ivy Lee Method. Start by making a list of your top 6 priorities for the next day. Then assess those tasks and rank them in their order of importance. When you begin your work the next day, start with the first task, as this will be the most important one on your list. Work through the rest and repest at the end of the day!

If you struggle with ranking the importance of your priorities, try using the prioritization matrix to help you narrow down what really matters.

2. Clear the inbox

Revisit your inbox one last time before you end your workday. Are there any emails that you still need to send or answer? Check in and ensure all of your communications for the day have been squared away until tomorrow so you don’t end up checking your email during your time away from work. Gotta protect that work/life balance!

Another way to get productive with your inbox before the day is over is to go through your messages from the day and make notes of any important info. Maybe you need to schedule an appointment with someone, pass some info along to somebody else, or get a document over to a colleague in the days ahead. Make notes in your calendar before the day is over so you don’t forget to return to them later.

3. Organize your space

Take some time at the end of your day to tidy up your space. Clear the empty coffee cups and organize any clutter that may have appeared during your time at work.

If you find it difficult to keep your space consistently clean, follow the ‘leave the room’ rule. If you’re exiting a room, there’s a high likelihood that something in that room needs to come with you, whether it’s garbage to throw away or a coffee mug to return to the kitchen. Grab the distractions and get rid of them before clock-out so you can be welcomed by a fresh, inviting space in the morning.

4. Prepare for upcoming appointments

If you have meetings or appointments coming up in the days ahead, use the last hour of your workday to make sure you’re prepared. Outline any questions you may have, info you need to share, or other notes you may need to bring with you.

It’s always better to prepare for a meeting a day or two before instead of scrambling in the hour before the meeting begins. This is another super-important reason to get productive with your inbox and make sure all meetings are blocked in your calendar so you know what’s on your plate for the week. Practice looking ahead before your workday ends so you can get ahead on everything that matters!

5. End with your clock out routine

Your clock-out routine is the barrier between your work mindset and your home mindset — especially if you work from home! Instead of leaving Slack open and active, telling yourself you’ll respond to that email tonight, and saving those tabs in your browser for later, take care of the loose ends and shut it all down. Turn off the messengers and close your laptop when the day ends.

Your work/life balance depends on your ability to set those boundaries. Protect your time by focusing on where you are when you’re there, not letting your tasks bleed into your me-time. Don’t be afraid to turn things off and take some time for you — you deserve it!


QOTD: How do you finish strong at the end of your workday?

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