I work on many independent projects outside of my 9-5. When I need to get a lot done on a weeknight, I make myself take a walk between logging off the VPN1 and settling back down to work again.
I haven’t always done this. Not taking the time to reset has made for many stressful and unproductive nights. Taking a bit of time for myself to walk, breathe, and maybe listen to a podcast or some music gives me a sense of freshness when I get back to work. Other stuff works okay — running an errand in the car, cooking a dinner more complicated than grilled hot dogs — but nothing does works quite as well for me as walking.
Time often feels like it’s moving faster and faster as night approaches, especially this time of year. My noisy brain starts yelling about how I haven’t yet gotten enough done as the sun dissapears while Jeopardy is still on. When that happens, my (unhelpful) instinct is to dive headfirst into my next task and try to “squeeze it all in”. This almost never works. Taking the time to center myself with something as simple as walking helps me make better use of the time I still have left when I get back to it.
1: My equivalent to leaving the office—one of many perks of the remote-worker lifestyle. My equivalent to traffic jams? More than one cat in the stairwell.