All right, everybody! Welcome to today’s episode of The Work Of Becoming podcast! If you haven’t listened to the previous episode which is all about my relationship with work and my identity, I highly suggest going to listen to that one before you listen to this one.
So, in today’s episode, I want to talk about check-out rituals. And so, for a little bit of context, one of the things that we work a lot with clients on inside of Alliance Coaching is time management and systems. Particularly, we help people feel lower stress, more intention, and more streamlined in their work and in their life. One of the ways we do that is we help them implement, in a lot of cases, check-in and check-out rituals.
So, a check-in ritual is kind of like a warm-up for your brain. It’s a few tasks that you might do (it’s gonna vary person to person) that help you really get into work for the day. They help you check in, get your brain going, and have a clear plan.
A check-out ritual is the opposite. It’s something that helps you close the day, feel complete, and truly draw a line and have that work/life separation that is really healthy for all of us.
I have been doing a check-out ritual for a long time, and my particular check-out ritual usually involves writing out everything I did that day, so making sure my “done” list is updated with everything I actually accomplished that day, moving any lingering tasks over to the next day, and then tidying up my office and turning off all the lights and closing the door so it’s like a physical separation. Since I work from home, that’s very important to me.
However, recently, I realized that when I check out of work, I also need to check into my life, if that makes sense. So, I was checking out of work, and my immediate reaction every week was to go sit on the couch, have a snack, and zone out in front of the TV for two hours until I had to drag my ass off the couch in order to go cook dinner. That really wasn’t working for me because the TV or the social media or whatever it was, it wasn’t really separate from work, first of all. For a while I was playing video games during that time. Even if it was separate like that, it wasn’t feeling restorative. It didn’t make me feel good. It didn’t make me feel accomplished.
And so, what I started to do recently is I started to have a check-in ritual for my life after I check out. So, I move my to-do list, I close out my office, etcetera, etcetera, and then what I do is I go sit at our countertop, and I pull out my little iPad planner, and I write down one to two things that I want to get done that evening. So, it’s like 4:00 PM or 5:00 PM when this is happening, and I have probably until 9:00 PM when I’m going to go to bed, and I’m like what does this 4 hours look like?
What I realized is that that is a decent chunk of time. If I had four hours in the middle of my workday, there’s no way I would not go about those four hours without any intention of what I was going to accomplish. However, I was not treating my own life after work with the same intention as I was treating my life during work. I was all about the to-do lists and the intention-setting and the long-term project planning. I’m all about those things when it comes to my nine-to-five, but when it comes to my five-to-nine, it all goes out the window, and I’m like, “Oh, whatever. I’ll just sit here on the couch,” and that’s not the kind of life I want to live because I want a life that feels intentional. I want a life that feels purposeful. I want a life that feels like I’m not just sitting on my phone for an hour and a half each night as a way to, quote, “relax” when it’s not actually relaxing at all.
And so, recently, like I said, I’ve been writing out one to two tasks, and oftentimes, those have to do with self-care. So, I’ll ask myself, “What do I need?” Oftentimes, I need some kind of movement. I need, usually, to make some adjustments in terms of nutrition. So, oftentimes, I’ll have a protein shake before dinner because sometimes I’m low on protein, but I really take a second to do a scan of where I’m at in that day, what have I accomplished, what haven’t I accomplished, what chores are done, what chores aren’t done, and I set intentions, and I create a plan, and I visualize what I want the rest of the evening to look like. And that has helped me so, so, so, so much, particularly in the last week, in feeling much more intentional about what my life looks like.
So, I hope you play around with that. I hope it benefits you, and I will talk to you in the next episode!