An unfinished to-do list at work can make it impossible to relax when you get home.
But according to a new research from Ball State University, there’s a simple task you can do before leaving the office that may help you unwind later. That charge: write down a game plan for how you’ll tackle your to-do list during the following days.
When employees in the study did this, they were able to better forget their incomplete workload than their counterparts who left for the day without mocking up a plan.
A long list of to-dos is stressful if you have no idea how you’ll get it all done, says study author Brandon Smit, Ph.D. But if you have a strategy that outlines how you’ll accomplish each task, they won’t weigh on your mind, he explains.
Plus, the act of committing to a task—whether you write it down in your planner or block out the time in your Outlook calendar—creates accountability that will help you actually follow through, he says.
Your game plan doesn’t need to be intricate, either. Just take a minute to cover the basics: when, where, and how.
For instance, say your to-do list includes compiling an expense report. But the clock hits 6 and you want to make it home for dinner with your family.
Take a moment to block off a time on your calendar the next day or next week that’s dedicated to completing the report. And make a note to yourself that you’ll close your office door to shut out interruptions so you can finish the job once and for all.
The plan will decrease your stress tonight and let you relax, so you can hit the ground running tomorrow, says Smit.
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