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Cleared home office

Welcome to Day 2 of the 5-day Work From Home Challenge. If you haven’t yet, make sure you check out and complete Day 1 before continuing with today’s challenge.

You want to start with the right mindset, and once you have it, today’s challenge is all about beating procrastination and setting yourself up for success.

Yesterday you took the first step towards the work from home mindset by completing Day 1, so now it is time to make it easy for you to work each day.

Help Your “Future You”

So it is getting to the end of the workday. You’ve spent the day fighting distractions and making the best of your work from home situation, and now it is time to start wrapping up.

What do you do?

You have two options:

  1. Leave things exactly as they are. Your desk, the applications and windows you have open on your computer, everything.
  2. Shut everything down, clean everything up, and do a “reset” so that everything is clean and clear for tomorrow.

By the title of this article, you have probably guessed that we are going to recommend option number 2, but I didn’t always think that way.

My thinking was: if I am in the middle of something, I should leave things exactly where they are. Leave my applications open. Leave my 15 browser tabs up. Have the 8 Finder or Windows File Explorer windows all over the screen. Then when I come in the next day, everything will be there for me ready to go.

Here’s the problem — leaving your desk and device cluttered is an invitation for procrastination. Theoretically leaving everything open should make it easier to get started, but here is what happens. When you roll up to your desk in the morning, you are blasted with a bunch of information that makes you triggered and distracted.

Plus, the activity you were working on at the end of the day may not be what you should be focusing on first thing in the morning. It may not be your most important task for the day, or it may conflict with your morning ritual.

For example, the first thing I do when I go to my computer in the morning is journal. Having a bunch of technical tools, browser tabs, and file windows open does not help me with that — starting with peace and clarity does.

We call this preparing-for-your-future-you concept Clearing To Neutral, and it is a powerful strategy to beat procrastination in the morning by eliminating friction.

Enter Your Daily Reset

The idea is to help your future you (aka, “tomorrow you”) and make it easy to hit the ground running with peace and clarity.

Here’s how it works:

  1. At the end of each day, close down your apps and browser tabs. If you need those tabs (for example, you’re in the middle of a research project), no problem. Your browser will have a function to bookmark the open tabs, or there are browser plugins that will let you save a group of tabs.
  2. Clear your desk. Put things away. Re-shelf books, recycle/shred random paper, put away dishes and soda cans.
  3. Look at your calendar and task manager for tomorrow. Is there anything you are going to need? Is there anything you can do now to make it easier for you to succeed tomorrow?

Working from home makes clearing to neutral even more important

Having a daily reset and clearing to neutral is a powerful strategy at any time, but it becomes even more helpful when you work from home. You may be working in a less-than-ideal situation, and depending on your location, you can only design your environment so much.

If due to space limitations, you’re forced to work in a shared family area, it becomes even more critical. If your “office” is the corner of the kitchen table or bedroom vanity, cleaning and clearing everything at the end of the day will make it more tolerable to live for you and your family members when you are not working.

The daily reset in action

As an example, here is my daily reset in action.

The morning

Here is my desk when I came down to my office in the morning. I understand that you may not be in a situation where you can have a room of your own to work in, but the concept is the same: desk is clean and clear, and my desktops are clear. I’m ready to get started with my day.

BD Desk in the morning

Mid-day

Just so I don’t give the impression of being some minimalist monk, here is my workspace right before typing these words.

You’ll see there are papers, books, devices, and even dirty dishes all over the place 🙈. You don’t see another browser window with about 20 tabs open (don’t get Thanh started about my tabs.)

That’s ok! We all need to do what we need to do to get things done.

BD Desk mid-day

End of Day

Now the magic. Here’s a picture I took as I was closing down for the night. You’ll see I put everything away (which again shows the importance of designing your environment,) and my computer is reset and back to neutral. When I sit down tomorrow morning, I’ll be ready to journal, have a quick meeting, and then tackle my “frog.”

BD End of Day

What to do if things are a gong show now

You’ll notice that my desk is clear and organized, much to my wife’s shock. Let’s just say she did not think I would be able to keep this up.

If your workspace is not clean and clear, what do you do?

There are two strategies you can take

  1. Take a Day of Pain & Suffering. Set aside a day (or more) to tackle it all, clear it up, and then maintain it using your daily reset going forward.
  2. Schedule a daily or weekly “clutter clearing” session to chip away at it until it is clear. Then maintain using your daily reset.

Both can work, but I found myself procrastinating on #1, so I went with strategy #2. I had a daily time on my calendar for 15 minutes a day to clean up, and even though it took a few weeks, eventually I got there. I found it easier to carve out 15 minutes than a whole day. I certainly would have got there faster with #1, though.

Exercise

Here we go, it’s time to put today’s lesson into action.

  • Add time on your calendar and set a reminder to do your daily reset at the end of today, and every day. By the end of the day, you’ll be tired and won’t remember, so you need that reminder. You won’t feel like doing it, but once you establish the habit, it only takes a few minutes.
  • If needed, schedule your “day of pain and suffering” or “clutter cleanup session.”
  • Let us know in the comments when you’re done, and share when your daily reset time will be.

Enter the Work From Home Challenge Giveaway

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Update: Day 3 is now live.


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  1. I agree a shut down /clear to neutral routine is even more important when WFH. I also liked this rationale from the article for doing so, if you’re not convinced it’s important: “ the activity you were working on at the end of the day may not be what you should be focusing on first thing in the morning. ”

  2. My reset is scheduled for 5:00pm every day. My wrkspace is in our main bedroom, so if everything has to be turned off and tidy to give us goods leep.

  3. Feeling a bit smug actually. I have been doing this already but for different reasons. I am very vulnerable so have been instructed to clean everything regularly and this means a daily clear of the desk to clean it for the next day.

  4. Finally! I finally put ‘clear to neutral’ on my calendar and DID it! My desk looks so much better – and I know where everything is. Closed lots of tabs. Still working on planning tasks for tomorrow. So pleased! Thank you!!

  5. It’s a late response, but I’ve made a practice of cleaning items I won’t need off of my work desk at the end of the evening. Coupled with deciding on new places to keep objects normally on my desk (ex: tablet), It’s now more clean at the end of the day.

  6. This has maybe been the harderst. Today I have scheduled it or sometimes gets in the way “I just need to finish up this..” and that always take longer that expected and then “oh, gotta run!”… and it didnt get done ..
    I will spend time on this – properly shutting everything down and resetting. THis will be good for now working at home and for when I can start back at the office..

  7. I am guilty of not resetting myself everyday. I’ve changed this bad habit this week and have been writing down things I want to tackle the next day. So far, that has been helpful.

  8. My secretary signs off between 4:30 and 5pm. I have started using 5-6pm to “reset” which for me means, making notes on my files, tracking my time in Toggle (sometimes I forget to track and activity but getting better), review admin or information only emails and update my shared task list with my secretary. I use a few hours on Sunday for anything that takes longer like longer admin tasks that require focus and larger time blocks.

  9. Over the years, I’ve done it both ways… leave the mess or clear to neutral. Clear to neutral always feels better, both at the end of the day and the next morning. While I’m not yet successful to achieve that each day, I have a reminder in my phone to “wrap things up” at 4:30 pm. That usually works unless a deadline is looming. Thanks for sharing and the positive work you do!

  10. I decided (at least for now) that I need two daily reset moments. The first one is a digital CTN, scheduled for 4.30 pm, half an hour before I aim to wrap up work-related tasks. The inbuilt alarm on my Windows PC is set to notify me. This half hour is designated for cleaning up downloaded files (store or delete), closing down tabs after bookmarking, saving as (Ever)notes or logging any associated new (actionable tasks). This is also the moment to make notes on the priorities for the next day.

    The second reset moment is a physical CTN which occurs after the creation and consumption of some culinary delight, and family time.

    Since my designated work space is also used recreationally, the physical CTN is scheduled for 9.30pm after which I aim not to look at computer or mobile phone screens to wind down in time for bed. I have a vibrating alarm on my smart watch that reminds me it’s “that time”. Everything should be physically closed down and any papers, crockery or other mess tidied away.

  11. Had to go into the office at the hospital today and I am very meticulous about my space and clearing it up nicely when I leave so I am good to go with that. Unfortunately, my home office is such a mess and it feels almost out of control- very different than work. No wonder I don’t like working from home as much. I have scheduled a day of pain on Saturday (and maybe Sunday if I can’t wrap it up in one day) to reclaim my remote office. Then I can wrap up my day by clearing my desk at home just like at work.

  12. “When you roll up to your desk in the morning, you are blasted with a bunch of information that makes you triggered and distracted.”

    Absolutely BRILLIANT! Just what I was missing.

    “Daily Reset” set in OmniFocus as a due date and time to alert me on my watch every evening at 17:30 to clear to neutral!

  13. Done. As I hot-desk at work, I don’t have much to tidy. A laptop, a mouse and a wrist-rest. It’s all in a neat pile on the sideboard.

  14. So I did my reset, sorta – but I’m amending my daily shutdown to include it more.

    Ironically, my office-mate (e.g. spouse) got frustrated with some clutter behind me they were staring at as they worked and did a preliminary straighten. Now it’s down to me to finish.

  15. Yes, I always reset to neutral and tidy up at the end of the day. Sometimes I will also tidy up around my workspace during the day if I am having trouble focusing. Too much clutter seems to affect my ability to focus on some days.

  16. This is a great idea and there are some useful ideas here. Nothing amazingly new, but then good ideas are often reminding us what we should be doing. I do this sometimes but not always. I will set aside some time each evening. Great post AE – thanks.

  17. Good reminder. With the current situation I’ve been pushing later and later into the evening. Had to leave some windows open as things are still uploading. But CTN with more things so open for a fresh start.

  18. I found CTN to work for more than my desk. I use it effectively in the kitchen and garden. These are also my “work” spaces. And when I neglect to CTN, I find I am more easily distracted when I get back to my space.

  19. I have been neglecting CTN lately. Definitely going back to this routine again starting today. Thanks for the reminder.

  20. Reminder has been set for the 6:15pm every day with a weekly review/reset for every Thursday at 5:45pm (I work 4/10’s in my regular job) with the reset immediately following.

  21. My daily reset time is 5:30pm. Il close all the apps and tabs and shutdown the laptop and close down the lcd.
    All the pending paper will be file away to put to inbox and il close the bullet journal.
    I end the day by writing tomorrow’s to do list in my bullet journal.

  22. Reading this prompted me to realise that when I was in the office I used to clear my digital desktop to neutral every day and turn off the pc, but often had a physical desktop full of “open tabs” (piles of paper). Now I’m working from home it much more important to clear the physical space to neutral (my desk is in the bedroom), but I tend to just shut the lid of my laptop so I’m “ready to go” the next day.

    I’m setting a daily CTN reminder for 5:45pm to see if I can combine the best bit of both – making one, location independent, daily habit.

  23. I usually did this already, but had to sharpen my reset a bit. My desk is as minimalistic as currently possible! But also close everything on my remote desktop environment.

  24. For me it was already a habbit to close my browsers and applications and closed the remote desktop session with my work PC. After reading this post I rechecked my work PC at the office and found out that my desktop on my PCis way to cluttered. I looked at my desktop and immediatly started thinking ‘what does this mean and this and this’. So I was distracted.
    My reminder for today and future days: cleaning my desktop and keep it clean so I can start ‘tomorrow’ with a desktop which does not distract me to start.
    Thanks for the ‘reset’ tip.

  25. I just need to find a way to save my open tabs instead of bookmarking each of them separately. Can’t see a way in Firefox.
    I’m going to set 20 minutes a day to organize my desk, so hopefully by the end of the week I can clear to neutral daily.

  26. I set a reminder in todoist to do my workspace reset, and scheduled time tomorrow to straighten up my room, since I can see the whole room from my tiny desk beside the bed.

  27. I have cleaned up my workspace partially and will continue tomorrow till it is all completely done. I have made a reminder in my iphone.

  28. Definitely something I know I should do, but often either forgot or allow myself to get caught up in other things. I set a reminder for 5 pm every day, but am also in the process of preparing to move, so I’m going to be spending some days of pain and suffering this week to try and seriously declutter and minimize.

  29. CTN via daily reset at end of day was one of the few really useful habits I had before I knew it had a name. If you work from home regularly and have a hard time turning off ‘work’ as I do, then this process is key to disconnecting from your work space each day and being confident that you are organized and ready for the next day. Am going to try picking a time each day and sticking to it. Reset, 5:30p-in the calendar – done!

  30. I have a problem with leaving my stuff out and then getting drained when I see the mess the next day, so I set a reminder on google keep to clean/set up for 9:30pm.

  31. Because of suggestions from AE I have been practicing CTN for a while now. I close my windows before shutting down my laptop and put everything away so I can start from fresh in the morning. The actual tim3 changes daily, depending on when I finish my work.

  32. Well, as my husband mentioned, we practiced CTN last night, so it was cool to see it mentioned here and get a bigger and broader idea of how it works. I set me reminders for 4 pm daily, as that should help with the shutdown process and get me into home mode. I’ll practice a work CTN and a home CTN daily, as this should help keep things running smoothly from multiple perspectives. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s challenge.

  33. I am notorious for leaving windows open, sadly ~30 on a daily basis. Then over the weekend, clearing to neutral. The daily reset suggestion sounds like a breath of fresh air. A 5:30pm reminder has been set and marked as out-of-office, which I’ve found to be effective at warding off those looking for space on my busy calendar. As a side note, I spent about 30 minutes this evening reading through your journaling articles. I journal only once in a while and needed a refresher on its value. Thanks.

  34. ‘Clear to neutral’ – Interesting point about keeping our workspace enhance our work. Will start allocate 15 mins at the end of the day (5:45 pm for me) to take care of this. Also will schedule clutter clearing sessions couple of days a week to start with. Thanks for the pointers

  35. I set aside the last fifteen minutes of the work day to clear off the card table in our living room i use for my home office. Makes my wife a little happier.

  36. Every day I try to put my papers and books back in a neat pile on the end table and close out my browser. I have pinned the spreadsheets from the cloud that I use daily so that they are quick and easy to open.

  37. I spent a lot of time clearing off a second desk that I can use for work so I don’t get distracted by my personal work & other stuff on my normal desk. I love the feeling of shutting the work computer down at the end of the day and have scheduled in 15 min at the end of the day to completely clear the space so it’s ready for the next day.

  38. Well, this one was easy for me. We just did CTN as a family last night and shutting down and cleaning up was already part of my daily routine anyway. I’m doing “work” (school) from the dining room table, so I have to have it cleaned off daily for dinner anyway. I shut down between 12 pm and 1 pm daily, so what I’ll do in addition to just picking up is to prepare everything I need for class the following day based on the recommendation. My reminders are set on my phone based on the specific day’s shutdown time.

  39. I have a 5 o’clock shutdown where I quickly review what I did for the day and check emails etc for anything which I need to prioritise for the next day.

    Going to add to this process, getting my computer and office to neutral.

    Will be taking approach 2 – chipping away at it over the next week (or so) but will get to my neutral space soon (starting with the computer today when I shut down.)

  40. For me the cleaning of the desk was mandatory from the first day of lockdown and WFH as I had to borrow my children’s desk and room to have some “detached” space devoted to work and conference calls. So for respect to my son and his spaces I always had cleaned up when ended. I am considering the closing of all tabs and files every time I switch off my work notebook. What I was setting up before this day’s exercise (that confirmed I was on the good mindset to be AE) was something similar to clean up and restart my day: I am slowly but steadily building a goal – habit tracking database in Coda.io that will become the backbone of my big goal for the 12 week year program: to set up a daily journal ritual that could also give me visual insight of my goals and my habits (good and bad) that I am working strategically on to reach the related goals. The ‘”thing” is starting to grow complex as I am packing tons of features inside this doc. So I decided to set up 2 built-in automation to help me start my day with a clean mind like a white page. At midnight Coda performs a transcript of all the daily practiced habits, calculating the overall score of the day (with bonus and malus) in the section Habit Journal. Than it cleans all the Habits of the previous day. When I open the doc to start a new day with a push of a button the second automation searches for all the active habits I’m working on and populates the suggested list of the day based on the priority of the Goal (Each day has a Goal Theme) so I can rapidly Timeblock on the calendar what I need to do. This is a huge thing I’m working on especially thanks to the Do The Damn Thing program for the Dojo 2.0 members. This will give me great insight (and data to analyze with charts , gantts, and kanban boards views of these thanks to Coda features) to stay more focused on my goals and don’t waste time repeating every day data entries or being stuck deciding what should I start from. All of these data could then be retrieved analyzed and resumed to journal every day and reviewed every night not only on mood or fatigue based impressions but taking decisions and actions based on priority and structured and relevant data.

  41. Just set a reminder for myself in To Do to schedule a daily reset. In the office it’s somehow easier, as the culture of data protection and “clean desk policy” provides an external stimulus. I did a “two hours of pain and suffering” decluttering of my Desktop, Downloads and Documents folders at the weekend… and so far I’ve kept them clean at the end of each day! But the week is still young! Anyway, my main desk is physically clear and the table beside it is… kind of clear. Work in progress: we go again tomorrow. 😎

  42. I always close down my computer and put away my paper, when I work in the office building. At home I do pretty much the same thing. The real challenge for me is to transfer this habit into my private space and stuff. That’s a really big project!

  43. Just did my “reset” and will be sure to do it at the end of every work day from now on! Btw — the exact time varies due to the fact that my schedule varies day to day, but I usually wrap up between 3:30 and 4:30

  44. I have actually been doing this more consistently since I started working from home. My daily reset happens at 5:30 pm.

  45. Yet another great idea. I’ve been trying out a workday shutdown for quite a while. I am mostly successful but this is another reminder. I’ve added it to my listing app: Todoist (which I love). 5pm, shut down computer, turn off monitors, plug in iPad and phones, wipe down my desk surface, remove all glasses, food, napkins, etc. I do keep my (paper) calendar open to glance at my weekly schedule as I walk by my desk. I work at a built in area in my kitchen, so it needs to be tidy.
    Thanks again, guys!!!

  46. Yes! I was telling my family about CTN last week and we started last night before bed. We all worked together for 5-10 minutes and put the house back to order for a fresh start in the morning. I’m all about streamlining the process, so having the end of “work” CTN process will ease the load later in the day too. I’m planning a 4 pm or earlier shut down (depending on the day). I’ll have to plan a day of suffering later in the week for a few problem areas, but at least those are things that aren’t affecting work at the moment.

  47. Well, my workspace always looks clear. It’s my workstation. When I was using my work-issued laptop it was pretty easy, just close the lid. But I can do so much more on my iMac and I’ve finally had a reason to make it work.

    So, making a clean break sounds like something for keyboard Maestro. A message at 5pm to remind me to knock off and a hot-key that will close down my work-related apps. (Another hot-key will open them up again in the morning). Nice and tidy!

    Next up: A macro to set up my writing environment, one to set up my weekly review,…

  48. This is a must for me since I work on the dining room table so I do the reset at 5:00 pm and pack my laptop into my book bag and but the bag away where I would normally if going to work. It is possible we will eventually turn a closet into an office desk but for now I can’t help but clear the desk as that is where we eat breakfast in the morning and I don’t want to be moving a laptop around. 😀

  49. This one should be easy, as I already have a checklist in place for resetting my physical desk. What I decided to do today is set an alarm, so I do it more consistently at a specific time (before this, I typically did it whenever the idea popped in my head).

    I scheduled my reset for 8:00PM, as part of my evening routine.

  50. After reading today’s challenge, I took an hour and a half to apply CTN to my newly established work spaces at home. I surprised myself by creating daily work spaces for my iPhone and iPad, computer and printer, books and other supporting materials.
    What an unexpected bonus, as I just enrolled in the Dojo!

  51. My Day of Pain and Suffering is more of a virtual nature. This morning I transferred all my todo items from 2Do to OmniFocus. My OF was already packed with strategic type items, and now it got to meet the tactical items. Time to rejigger contexts, tags, projects, etc for the new reality. Probably a whole bunch of pruning will occur as a way of avoiding trying to jam stuff in a suboptimal place.

  52. I’m definitely in the “Gong Show” on my desk right now. I’ve actually been slowly picking away at it for a couple months. I’ll keep that up because I’m actually almost done.

    And I’m definitely going to start resetting every day. I don’t do it every day, but on day s when I do, I’m definitely more productive.

  53. I have a huge problem with this. I often work with 7-10 tabs, 3-4 apps open every day and I want so bad to just leave them up so they are there in the morning. I’m going to make it a point to CTN at 5pm each day, and completely close my computer down. Before closing down my computer, I am going to prioritize my tasks for the next day.

  54. Set a reminder to clear desk everyday and to clean office/organize when I conduct my weekly review. The Internet went out this morning, so I cleaned desk and it has made the day so much more enjoyable. “A cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind” right?

  55. For those with days that have no clear start/finish. Its easy in those situations to still have a clear end of day because you physically drive home. With WFH, my strategy is once a day, shutdown/reboot. Even if you work later that night, the Zen is worth it.

  56. My reset is scheduled for 2:45 before my computer gets turned off at 3.

    I unwittingly took my declutter day this past Sunday and cleaned off the desk, dusted, and threw clean sheets over the piles of unpacked random boxes in our shared home office. My mental state has improved considerably and the items I use most frequently now have homes.

  57. I think this will help. I set a reminder so that I don’t forget to do this until it becomes a routine. I have a habit of leaving everything open on my computer and out on my desk so that I can just pick up where I left off the next day. I think clearing to neutral will set me up for success.

  58. Part of my problem is I don’t have a clear end of day and most times I have a before dinner and then late night session. Sometimes the second session is work and other times personal projects.

    I’m going to try Clear to Neutral this week when ever I leave the computer for more than an hour. I had already automated opening my applications and placing them in the right workspaces to reduce time wasted rearranging them each time I started.

  59. This is going to be a challenge, but I suspect it will be life-changing, truly. I love reading what everyone else is doing–inspiring and lots of good ideas. I usually end my work day with back-to-back client meetings after which I need to write notes, so I am going to set the CTN for one hour after the end of the last meeting each day. I already had the “Day of Pain & Suffering” scheduled for Saturday when my partner will be working. That may involve completely rethinking my setup for 100% virtual work, rather than improvising within the setup I was using when seeing clients in person. I’m actually looking forward to it!

  60. I took 15 minutes to rearrange my office space. I keep thinking WFH is temporary so I haven’t really settled in. I know I’ll be WFH for awhile, maybe even the rest of the year, so I made myself more comfortable and put things in proper places. I also scheduled a reminder for a reset at the end of the day. Let’s do this!

  61. I clear to neutral starting 30 minutes before my workday ends by looking at what I accomplished today, tasks for tomorrow, scheduling any tasks or planning them for a bulk session, reviewing next day. Afterwards I start shutting down apps and computer and then physically clear my desk. The last step, I close my office door to signal workday is complete.

  62. Reset scheduled at 6pm every workday. Looking around my place, it strikes me that it might be a good idea to practice Clearing to neutral for home stuff as well ;)

  63. I have scheduled “Daily Reset (Clear To Neutral)” to my calendar at 5pm and will move it to the next day once I’ve completed it each day. I’ve heard you talk about Clearing to Neutral (CTN) many times over the years. I’ve implemented it many times by washing the dishes after each meal instead of stacking them in the sink, and replenishing the towels in the bathroom after showering so I can jump in the shower without having to first go grab clean towels – and I don’t get caught in the shower without a towel any more. Now I will start implementing the CTN rule at the end of my workday too so that I don’t get distracted or overwhelmed each morning at the start of my workday from remnants of tasks/projects from the previous day. I simply add a folder bookmark in the Google Chrome browser for each project I’m working on and use the Project name for the folder name. Then I add a bookmark for each webpage that I will need to work on that project. Then when I’m ready to work on that project again, I just right-click on that project folder in Chrome Browser and select “Open All” to reopen all the webpages at one time. That has really helped me to be able to close the tabs without worrying about having to reopen all the many tabs every time I moved to the next project.

  64. I have already set aside 8:30-9pm as my journal and plan for tomorrow time so I’m adding 8:20 pm as my reset time, assuming that I didn’t already do it when I stopped working around 5 or 6.

  65. In my case, the lockdown is forcing me to make a mandatory reset of my desk every day. My office has now turned into a gim as well, so everyday when I am completed with work, I will take take out my laptop and paper, put it into a case, and use a tablet to put music and yoga videos (As I keep my laptop just for business)

  66. And another great reminder. I always did this in the office but now I’m in a corner in a bedroom and it’s so easy to just walk away. BUT I have scheduled my reset for 4pm every day. I will check my calendar for the next day’s to-do list, shut down my computer and clear my desk. Hoping to make this a habit!

  67. Done and dusted!

    I’ve set it for 5:30pm every single day so that I can get some much needed family time at night.

  68. I had my day of pain and suffering last week which has really helped. I have also noticed, if I do not close down the computer, it does not work as well the next day so that has become habit in the past few days. I am also using my work space for my full time job and side hustle so it is important for me to reset from one to the other. My reset time is scheduled for 4pm and have an alarm set for 3:45pm to remind me to stop and reset for the next day.

  69. I clean up my work area every day. I did in the office and find it just as satisfying now that I’m working from home. I hate returning to a mess.

    That said, I can’t say the same for my personal work. It’s everywhere in piles and I don’t know where the mess begins or ends. I’ve simply been shuffling it around. Looks like I’ll be adding a 15 minute cleanup task to my day until I’m caught up.

  70. Got a head start on this early on in isolation when I decided to use my downtime to Marie Kondo my place (it’s never been cleaner or better organized!)

  71. Clearing to neutral has been a long standing practice ever since AE introduced the idea to me. Though perhaps, I’ve been a bit more lax about it at home in terms of getting squeaky clean. Today I’ll really be cognizant of setting up for tomorrow. For the first few days clearing to neutral did take about 15 minutes but maybe after the first 2 weeks I got it down to 5 minutes because there was an expectation for it to happen.

    Though the desk is pretty clean the current state of the room I’m in is far from pristine so I’ll probably take the weekend to really clear the decks and get the space more “zen.” It hasn’t stopped me from transitioning into work mode but I would prefer a more organized space.

  72. I already do this! I am blessed that I have an office/craft room. I don’t focus well with a lot of clutter so for the most part I make sure everything is put away at the end of the day. When I take a break I pick up dishes at that point. My desk is pretty much office supplies that normally are on a desk.

    I need to work more at closing windows. I do fine with my work stuff but my personal stuff tends to stay open. Yet I know that there is a point that I’m done with that and will make it a point to close my windows every evening.

    I tend to be very routine oriented. I don’t like decision fatigue so try to create routines so I don’t have to think too hard.

  73. Okay, I love this! My biggest problem was leaving e-books or articles that I wanted to finish reading open, and then in the morning, I will waste quite a bit of time finishing them before I start anything productive.
    My reset time is scheduled for 7:00 pm today, because I have late meetings, and 6:00 pm every other day.

  74. Every work day in the in the afternoon ~4-5pm -> DOS (=Daily Office Shutdown); Friday – WOS – Weekly Office Shutdown
    30-60 min
    – Clearing to neutral
    – Answering hot emails
    – Filing tasks for later
    One important rule – I always shut down the entire Mac. No sleep mode.

  75. Like others here, my end of workday routine was focused on getting my inbox back to zero and planning my daily big 3 tasks for the next working day. I’d somehow forgotten about resetting my desk and desktop. I’ve added this to my routine checklist so should do it going forwards!

  76. I’ve started writing in my work planner to clear my “office” space every day, so I don’t forget. It’s hard and inconvenient for me to close all my browser tabs that I’m still using, but I’ve found that using Windows’ virtual desktops on my computer works pretty well for that. All my open tabs go into one “desktop”, and I open another empty one for when I turn on my computer the next morning.
    All this is working well so far, the only issue is… my work space and creative space are in different corners of the same room. So in the evenings when I’m working on art projects and I need to clear some space on my art desk, where does all that clutter go? On the nice, tidy, empty work desk of course. That’s the most problematic habit here that I need to break out of, I think.

  77. This was an “aha” moment for me realizing that my at office routine naturally included the “reset” you refer to because cleaning off my desk and shutting down my laptop to bring it home was a routine. I have not been doing this reset since WFH full time and this has likely been a big factor in the rut but I have been in. Great tip and will practice starting tonight.

  78. I have a shutdown ritual I normally follow at 5pm. Clear desk, review tasks and tomorrow’s calendar. I use the Full Focus Planner, so I write the next day’s appointments in my calendar. I am successful at this about 50% of the time.

  79. As a follower of Asian Efficiency and user of Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus planner, I’ve already have established multiple daily and weekly routines. This includes a workday shutdown routine that includes tasks such as noting unfinished business, a mind-sweep, scanning my physical daily notes into my digital notebook, and clearing my workspace to neutral. I have this scheduled for the last 20 minutes of my day which starts at 5pm.

  80. My Husband is an IT person – I have never been able to leave equipment on/apps open!!! (LoL). I love the CTN principle – Even have the letters on my laptop. I leave a post-it-note with the 3 tasks I want to initiate the next morning. I stop ‘work’ at 4pm. Also, as a USAF veteran, I make my bed every morning😊. Honestly, I like everything in its place. The last thing I do before bed is my journal (top 3 achievements of the day).

  81. Before teleworking started, I knew I would need to carve out a space for work-work. So I took a “day of pain and suffering” the weekend before and cleared my worktable of the accumulated detritus of life and home-work (bill paying, homelife schedules, etc). I sorted and found homes for magazines, unopened mail, manicure tools, Kindles, regular books, and more. Since I maintain my home-work and work-work from the same spot, I do have to shut one down to avoid distraction from the other. However, I have found myself getting cluttery on other areas of my table. I have set a reminder on my work calendar at 4:15 pm to clean up, not just my current work space, but to also tackle a portion of my accumulated clutter. Thank you all for the reminder. Reset, here I come.

  82. I have a buffer block in my schedule each weekday at 5 pm when I’m supposed to reset, but in reality, I come back to my desk after dinner and take one more pass at things before I go to bed. I should just acknowledge that and change my calendar! I also have a monthly day of pain and suffering that was more necessary when I was traveling, but during shelter in place, I’m keeping up very well.

  83. Loved the picture of your desk as the day went by!

    This reset is a must for me. Clutter kills my focus so everything on my desk has a purpose and place.

  84. This principle I practise since a lot of time now. I was introduced to it in other blogposts and courses of Asian Efficiency.
    My routine is to Clearing to Neutral after every task that is completed. So it can happen after a Pomodore session, after my MIT, after a Time Block. If something is done, clean up!

  85. Will do CTN tonight. Unfortunately, I have to finish a paper for a deadline tonight, and I don’t know what time it’ll be done. So will definitely CTN when I finish working, I just don’t know when. If I was more #asianefficient I would not be up against a deadline,but anyway…

  86. I love your mini courses like this. It’s so easy to let things slide and end up in a mess…

    We run a small store on and off line and have moved more online right now. I’m the paperwork etc person and I also manage all our finances business and personal. I usually clear the decks of business stuff and the go over to deal with personal. So it gets complicated…

    Leaving the desktop works for me most of the time so I stage it with what’s needed first thing. But about half the time I do clear it out mostly on the weekends.

    Bluntly nothing works perfectly all the time. I schedule a weekly pick up the pieces day so I don’t get swamped with filing receipts or the other boring details. Usually only an hour or so.

    I also use music and the radio to program my day. I listen to NPR part of the day to catch certain shows. Keeping a rhythm in the day helps me not wander off into procrastination land.

  87. For the rest of this week I am going to do a 30 min rest at 4 pm. Then this Saturday I am going to do a bigger cleanup focusing on the stacks of paper I have accumulated since working at home.

  88. This is so simple an idea, but so necessary! I know it from other AE courses. Why don’t I do it then…
    I have the relative luxury that I still can work at my office (healthcare), but at home and in the office CTN is a very good idea.
    I have set a daily repeating action in Omnifocus to alert me to the CTN routine. And I promise myself to set aside 15 minutes for chipping at the stale inbox pile at the corner of my desk.
    Great challenge so far! AE thank you.

  89. I already had an “End of Days” on my calendar to prepare for tomorrow, but focus was on having read ahead material out, calendar updated, task review and daily reflection. While I ensured inbox zero, I did not clean up my workspace. That is now added.

  90. This is my Achilles heel. I work up until the last second when I have to run down and cook dinner. My desk is a disaster. Layered disaster. So I’m going to do 15 minutes every day to work it down. I’ve tried all day clean ups up I’m left with baskets of stuff. I have to plan my time to include close out time. Will set timer for 5 pm. Then I have 15-30 minutes to reset to neutral. It’s going to be a job to change my evil ways.

  91. As a user of Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus planner, I’ve already setup both a workday startup and shutdown routing, as well as a morning and evening ritual to start and end my overall day.

    I find that it feels very satisfying to have everything put in place at the end of my workday, so that I have a clean and efficient environment to start off the new work effort. However, as some of my workdays include very late conference calls with teams in Asia (I’m in the US), my shutdown will vary from 6pm to 10pm, depending on the scheduled meetings.

    The shutdown includes, backing up work from the day, shutting down computer and related equipment, and setting up my workspace for starting the next day.

    Oh, and also setting up the coffee machine for the start of the next day…

  92. This is a great challenge for me. I leave bits of projects around the house as I’m rushing to get the work in.
    I really want to have a calmer atmosphere.
    I’ve put my reset at 4:50, hoping to finish and get a break before the evening stuff starts.

  93. Like many others that have commented, I also plan to start this process each day at 16:30. I’ve taken an additional step and added a recurring task in OmniFocus to trigger this activity on a daily basis. Beyond clearing the desk (both digital and physical), I also include reviewing the next day’s activities and ensuring that I have appropriate plans in place to facilitate (such as sending zoom links to OmniFocus for use with the iPad since going through the company VPN impacts sound quality).

  94. I always have great intentions to CTN but often overrun on other things and just too exhausted to think clearly. When I do to it, though my head is much more engaged in the here and now! I will get more into that routine

  95. I already have “clean up loose ends” set on the calendar for 4:30 each day. Adding “& CTN”. Will shutdown the computer too!

  96. I have a daily workday shutdown routine that I started in week 2 of working from home full time. When I was in the office I had a normal shutdown routine but at home I was just leaving everything open (email, teams, browsers, etc.). I walked into the office one night to grab something and saw all my emails, IM’s, etc. and decided that was a bad idea :-). At 5:15 I close my IM client so I can focus on shutdown. Then I process email, close down Outlook, close all browser tabs and sign out of my VOIP phone. I then list my Top 3 Actions for the next day in my planner. My mind is then clear and I start the next day fresh.

  97. Reset scheduled for 5:15pm every day. That gets me to my “work is done” time of 5:30 I’ve been trying to stick to!!

  98. My daily shutdown as I call it is scheduled for every day on my calendar at 4:30 PM. Not because that is when I finish working, but as a daily reminder to try and get it done. I have not been consistent though.

    I also go to my computer almost every evening, before retiring, and this is when I activate my wrap iOS shortcut, which puts my thoughts right into my journal. I have become more consistent at completing this action every day. It has the typical questions, which are positive and forward-thinking. What was great? What will be better tomorrow? What still needs an action?

    My actions don’t consistently clean up my desk but move me forward to tomorrow.

    I will try harder!

  99. My work reset is right when I leave at 4 or 5p. I do my best to let the last 30 minutes-1 hour serve as reset time to get everything set for tomorrow. My life reset is the evening prior. I try to set my clothes out the day before and take a peek at the calendar to have an idea of what my “frog” would be for the next day.

  100. My workspace is in my master suite, so it’s probably even more critical that I CTN every night. I’ll include this as a habit at the end of every day when I do my daily paperwork to shut down the day. I think a checklist for end of day might be useful as I have to turn in logs, timesheets etc at the end of each day.

  101. I CTN every day around 4:50, but now with working from home as a salaried employee what defines the “end of my day” is a bit hard to pin down on a clock. Sometimes may day ends earlier, sometimes after 5:00. Today I teach a night class and that will have me in my office until at least 7:00.

    Rather than adding something to my calendar I found it helpful to add a recurring task every day at the lowest priority, bottom of my work task list that reminds me to CTN. Now it’s muscle memory, but that helped me get in the habit more than adding it to my calendar.

  102. Added an End of Day Reset recurring calendar event for 6.20 every day. Getting myself out of ‘work mode’ has been one of the most surprising challenges during this prolonged work from home period – this, coupled with my daily outdoor exercise will hopefully help with this.

  103. Reset scheduled for 5:30 each day. This will help as well for the times IT pushes updates and I find in the morning my computer restarted and I lost what I was doing the night before. Ugh! I really need to implement a whole new shut down routine including prioritizing my tasks for the next day. I used to be up earlier to get my daughter to school, but now her day starts at 9:40 so I’m sleeping in and not getting my early morning planning time in anymore. :-(

  104. CTN was an integral part of my routine when I was in my office, but flew out the window when I started working at home. I don’t have an ideal set up for working from home and it’s become even more chaotic as the days have dragged on. I’m going to begin today by clearing to neutral and then commit to ending each day this way. So simple… And yet so easy to slide away from doing.

  105. I swap out hardware as part of my “concluding rites” at 5:15–fill in my timesheet, replace my work laptop with our home computer put all my work papers and tech in my backpack, pens in the cup and dishes in the sink. Lastly a thorough yet symbolic hand washing. Now the space is ready for my spouse to use in the evening and I’m ready to make dinner.

  106. It is easier done in work where I followed this to a T.
    I will schedule a day of pain to prepare a routine for the working from home daily rest

  107. I established my reset routine a while ago for survival. I am getting ready for retirement, so you can tell my age. I have not abandoned paper completely. Instead of keeping tabs open in my computer – which by the way incredibly stresses me – I have a steno pad nearby to capture all of my ‘must do’s’ and ‘don’t forgets’. This allows me to have a clear laptop, desk and mind. Plus crossing accomplished things off my written list gives me enormous satisfaction. Sometimes old ways can be better!

  108. The last thing I do before wrapping up for the day is clear my desk and prepare for the following day, including getting clothes, Etc. ready for the following day.
    Leaving only what I absolutely need everyday on the desk helps me start fresh. It’s also never a surprise to arrive and get a complete change in direction from the day before. So having whatever I was working on yesterday still open can be a nightmare.

  109. Reset scheduled for 5:30pm.
    However, what happens if I have a late meeting? For example, tonight i have a meeting from 7-8pm, and then I have to go right to a family event (virtual) at 8pm. I figure I should still do the reset at 5:30pm, eat dinner with the family, and then go back to do my meeting…

  110. I have my Shutdown Routine I do at the end of each workday (3:30pm) and that’s when I clean up my work area and look at tomorrow. I haven’t cleared my laptop of open items so I have a fresh start each morning so I’ll add that to my routine.

  111. I already have a daily reset / workday shutdown reminder scheduled every day at 4:30! This helps me finish what I’m doing and clear to neutral as described, and is also important because some days I’m mobile, so this is a crucial moment for me to gather any equipment and supplies I’ll need if the following day is a non-office day. I have an extended version of this (checklist in Evernote) that I do before leaving for an extended absence (such as vacation or a multi-day business trip) that includes setting up out-of-office messages on my email and voicemail. I’ve also found that “bookmarking” is a critical part of clearing to neutral – add the thing I was working on back into my task list in my to-do app, including some brief notes describing my most recent progress and what I was about to do next. This helps to “lower activation energy” when I come back to finish that task later, and makes me more confident about being able to set it aside instead of working on it “just a few more minutes to finish up” (since it always takes more than that).

  112. Before the virus I had already established a daily cleaning time for my desk and a weekly declutter, but I kind of let it slip. Now I’m going to regain the habit

  113. I seem to be better about this at home than I was at work – probably because there I tried to finish up that one last thing before I am for the train! I’m setting a reminder for the end of the day to make sure this gets done and to further ingrain the habit.

  114. I hope this didn’t mean “fully” done as I’ve been working on the 15 minute thing for a while and have a little ways to go.

    Here’s the good thing. My old computer crashed during this “pandemic” period (no I’m not saying kill your computer), which made it necessary to shift to a new one. During that process it was a reminder of what I actually needed. Which in most cases was less than I thought, but there were a couple of things i realized I wouldn’t have covered.

    As part of that, I am currently down to 1 browser with about 15 tabs open (normally this would be one of about 4-5 windows)

    I actually got rid of all the post-it notes I had floating around my desk. I just moved the printer to a place where my family also has easier access to it (and yet is not a complete eye sore), and I’ve been gradually working on straightening up to the point where right now I can actually see my desk and at the same time the floor of my office.

    Point is progress is being made. I still like starting too many things, so I have to figure out how to get that in check.

  115. Ok, all set. End of Routine setup for 5pm for 15 minutes. My activities are going to check my To Do App, check calendar for tomorrow and shut down computer and clean desk. Excited to try this out.

  116. I set a reminder for the end of my workday. I will spend time properly shutting everything down and clearing to neutral. Then I will go walk the dog. That will help to signal the transition from work to not working anymore.

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