4 Ways to Be Productive After Work

After an epically long work day, all you'd like to do is relax and give in to a Netflix marathon. While lounging on the couch for the rest of the evening is super tempting (and sometimes, much needed!), it isn’t totally productive. I'm not saying you need to write a novel overnight or start a side-gig-turned-new-company, but wouldn’t it be nice to work on some personal projects or accomplish goals that you always say you’ll do? Here are a few of the best ways to stay productive after wrapping up your work day.

1. Unplug

Laptop and PhoneFirst things first: zero technology. No emails. No Insta. No social media. No TV. Just you. I know how difficult this can be (Shonda nights cannot be missed!), but with social media, constant emails and Tinder updates always buzzing around us, focus becomes nearly impossible.

If personal peace of mind won’t convince you to take a break, then maybe this will: A study conducted by TNS Research and Hewlett Packard determined that when employees are distracted by emails and texts, they suffer a larger IQ drop than if they'd smoked marijuana. Eliminating distractions can make you more aware and alert, which are two great factors for starting a new project.

Obviously, unplugging from technology every evening is unrealistic (especially for the social media obsessed), so try doing it even just one night out of the work week. If you really do enjoy some television or web surfing every night, challenge yourself to do something else first. Give your mom or dad a call before turning on a show. Read for an hour before Grey's Anatomy comes on. Check in with your roommate or, if you live alone, check in with yourself! Take time for yourself to journal and reflect on your day. Then you can check out the new ep!

Related: 10 Things Your Mother Didn't Tell You About Being an Adult

2. Spend time on a hobby and/or goal

Jason Briscoe

If it were up to me, Netflix would be an actual hobby. But instead of devoting hours of your life to One Tree Hill reruns (just us?), why not learn a new skill? Cooking, public speaking, poetry writing, ballet; the list goes on and on. Why not sign up for one of these weekly classes? I guarantee you can make time to pick up a hobby just once a week. You can make new friends, pick up a great new skill, and have a blast. Sites like meetup.com and Yelp are perfect for discovering new classes and meeting new people. 

3. Work out

Girl doing push up

One of the biggest struggles with being productive is combating fatigue and maintaining a substantial level of energy after work. That’s where fitness comes in! Following a consistent fitness regime can boost your creativity, confidence and resilience, both at work and in your personal life. More importantly, when you exercise, you're increasing blood flow to the brain, which can help sharpen your awareness and get you ready to tackle your next big project. Kara, a PR assistant, says that working out right after work prevents her from hitting the couch immediately. “Even though I’m usually tired after work, I always force myself to go to the gym or do some type of activity, because the second I get home I will lie on my couch and never leave,” she says. 

4. Clean

a bottle of clorox, hand sanitizers and a container of lysol wipes sit on a wooden table

A clean space equals a clear mind. Who knew, right? If you tend to leave a trail of clothes as you come home from work, try to put those items up and away as soon as you walk through the door. And take the extra few minutes to make your bed in the morning! When you come home to a messy place, it may take a toll on your mood, sleep, health and more. Clutter can be so distracting that research confirms it can actually affect your ability to focus; looking at multiple things overloads your visual cortex and interferes with your brain’s ability to process information. So, the more organized you are, the more productive and efficient you are.

As annoying as it may seem to "do more" after your 9-to-5, working on projects you really love (and taking the steps to make time for them) is key to accomplishing what you want and staying productive after work — and throughout your life.