For some of us, when the clock strikes five, we are more than happy to punch our timecards and get home. After work, we’re ready to relax and do, well, almost nothing.
However, others of us like to keep going. The feeling of doing absolutely nothing for the remaining hours in our day sounds dreadful and wasteful, but what else can we accomplish at that point in the evening?
If you’re someone who likes to keep busy long after your workday has ended, read on to learn some practical, productive things you can do after quitting time. Your productivity doesn’t have to end just because you left the office.
What Does it Mean to Be Productive?
Being productive quite literally means producing results and getting things done. But, though your mind may jump straight to your career when you hear the word productive, it can actually present itself in all areas of your life.
Sure, you can produce great results at your desk, in meetings, and with clients, but you can also be productive within your homes, with friends, and in your families. Productivity doesn’t have to be limited to your work life.
Other words that mean the same thing as productive are creative, fertile, fruitful, rich, successful, and profitable. Sometimes it helps to have these synonyms in your back pocket to relate certain tasks to the concept of getting things done.
Why Be Productive After Work?
Some of you may be wondering what the point is of being productive after work. After all, you just spent the majority of your days completing tasks and performing potentially mundane activities. Why not just flop on the couch with your dinner in front of your favorite TV show?
There are actually many benefits to staying productive at all times of the day. We’re going to talk about some of them before we get into the types of productive activities you can take part in.
When all you do is work from nine to five and come home to do nothing for the rest of your day, it can feel like work is all you do. This is not a healthy balance to have a happy life.
When you add other productive things into your day post-work, you achieve a better work-life balance. Workaholics may find it difficult to come to the understanding that life isn’t all about work. You can, in fact, achieve success in other areas of your life outside of the office.
When you reap the rewards of productivity outside of work, you find that life is much more enjoyable. Being productive after work lets you explore your other ambitions in life, exceeding your goals in your hobbies, families, and homes.
Some of the happiest people in the world are those who are productive. When you’re productive, you give yourself the opportunity to have an overall higher quality of life, which certainly leads to happiness. Though busyness with work can be stressful, productivity in other areas of your life in addition to your career can boost your happiness.
For one, crossing things off a to-do list makes everyone happy. The idea here is a certain level of satisfaction that comes with seeing your list grow smaller and smaller. Many people find that there is a feeling of freedom that comes with crossing off tasks.
Being productive also means that you are working towards your goals, and achieving goals is a sure way to reach higher levels of happiness. Doing so gives you a sense of purpose and something to strive for. While productivity goals in the workplace can become tedious, setting them outside of work can help you branch out towards achievements in other areas of life.
In general, having something to do can make you happier. Think about going home after work and sitting on your couch and staring at your television until bedtime. Now think about doing that over and over again, every single day of your life.
Now compare that to the days when you have dinner plans with your friends after work or the date nights that you get to look forward to all day. Even something as simple as your child’s evening soccer game is something to do after work.
The person who goes home to nothing every night is less likely to be happy than the one who has a schedule packed with friends, family, activities, and even purposeful alone time.
While your work productivity may only benefit your boss and perhaps your co-workers, at times, productivity after work can benefit other people in your life. If you’re a parent, your after-work productivity probably very greatly benefits your children.
Those who do productive things after work have the potential to help others in a variety of situations. You never know what those after work drinks mean to someone else, and investing your time in other activities and organizations may help you reach those in need.
Not to mention, your after-work productivity can help yourself. No matter the activity, your productivity will always help yourself in some way, shape, or form.
Setting an Example
An important thing to remember throughout your life is that someone is always watching. I don’t mean that in a creepy way, but rather that you should have the mindset that you are always an example to someone.
If you have kids, then you are an example for them. Perhaps you are an example for your siblings or your spouse. Your friends may even be watching your decisions and thinking them over.
When you continue to be productive after the work day has ended, others are bound to notice. Not only does that give you a good reputation as a hard worker and a dedicated individual, but it sets an example and gives others something to aspire to.
Maybe your friends watch you hit the gym after work every day, and it inspires one of them to finally start exercising again. Your kids may see you come home from work, cook dinner, and clean up the house in an evening. That sets a good standard for them to follow throughout their lifetime.
As a productive person, you get to set a precedent for the other people in your life. Lead by example!
Along the same lines as people who always have something to do, productive people tend to be less bored with their life. The repetitiveness that your work week usually emulates can result in massive boredom in your life.
However, when you implement other means of productivity after work, you’re able to switch things up a bit and get out of that dreary routine.
Remember, productivity after work doesn’t always have to mean the same thing. Once you clock out, you have the opportunity to do whatever you want. You can change things around. Even if you already had something planned for after work, you can make the choice to do something different in a split-second decision.
Boredom does not rule your life; you have the ability to mitigate boredom through your choices and activities. Choose to kick boredom out and be productive to save yourself the dullness.
How Can I Become More Productive After Work?
Knowing the benefits of being productive, even outside of work, can be excellent motivation to get you started. However, it may not be as easy for you as it is for other people. To help you out, we’re going to go through some tips and tricks to use in your new productive lifestyle.
You should always make a plan if you want to stay productive after work. Without one, it’s far too easy to walk in the door, throw on your sweats, and call it a night.
When you lay out a defined plan, it becomes easier to stick to your goals. Plans give you proper motivation, whereas lack of plans leaves you hanging.
If you have a plan already set in place at the beginning of the day, your mind is already set and aware that when you get home, you’re not going to be lazy. Take on that productive mindset before you get home rather than trying to think of something to do after you walk in the front door.
Take a Break
Just because you want to be productive after work doesn’t mean you have to jump right from one thing to the next. It’s okay to take some time for yourself when you get home. Make yourself a nice meal and do something relaxing for a half hour.
Watch an episode of your favorite TV show, but make sure you set a limit for yourself and stick to it. Read a chapter of the book you’re in the middle of. If you really need it, you can even take a short nap.
All of this is perfectly fine and doesn’t mean you can’t be productive, but you have to stick to your limits and stay on track.
For many people, once they get through the front door, it’s game over. If you are someone whose mind turns off the second they get home, then don’t go home after work.
Head to a park, a café, the library, or a friend’s house. Your home can be a huge comfort zone, and you may find it difficult to be productive once you get there. Use other places to remain productive, working on personal projects, reading, or getting some fresh air.
You can also use spaces like a garage or a basement to stay productive. Areas like these are often used as work areas where you can complete projects and get away from comforts like your couch or your bed.
Using a designated productivity location can help keep your mind focused and on the right track without the temptation to give up for the day.
Write Things Down
Just like you would at work, make a list of all the productive things you want to get done. You can do this at the beginning of every week and even split your list up among the different days. This will help you stay focused and solidified in being productive.
You will also feel really good when you get to cross those things off of your list, but rather than erasing the stress of work that needs to be completed, you’re doing more things for yourself.
Find Your Motivation
Everyone is motivated by different things. The best way to stay productive after work is to find what motivates you. Why do you want to be productive?
Your reasoning is personal and therefore, can vary. It may be as simple as the fact that you hate boredom and aim to avoid it. Or, you may want to stay productive to get you through a difficult emotional time.
Perhaps your spouse or your children motivate you. We often do things because we know they will help the ones we love. Love is a very strong motivator, and that may be yours.
Whatever your motivation is, find it, and focus on it. Make it stick in your brain and revisit it whenever you feel like you’re slacking. Without motivation, you won’t have any real reason to stay productive and may fall short of your goals.
If you’re looking for an excuse not to do something, you will always find it. Take a proactive approach to avoiding excuses by going through all the ones you can think of ahead of time. Then tell yourself those excuses are useless and try to come up with concrete reasons as to why.
That way, when you get home and want to use those excuses, you can tell yourself that you have already dealt with them. It may seem a little silly at first, but sometimes all it takes is a few moments to work through those thoughts to get rid of them.
Productive Activities for After Work
Now that we have learned why it’s a good idea to remain productive in the hours following your shift, we can answer the bigger question here: How can you be productive after work?
Let’s talk about some specific examples of productive activities you can do outside the workplace during your free time to keep you sharp, creative, and free of boredom.
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to get a little bit of exercise. This is a great activity for after work, especially if your job entails sitting down at a desk all day. Any kind of movement you can do for your body is a good thing.
Many people find themselves stressed out from their work week as well. Exercise is awesome for combatting stress. Whether you have the ability to go to the gym or just take the time for a nice walk, you can help relieve stress by working out.
Often times, when a person dives into exercise and working out, it branches out to become a part of their lifestyle. Perhaps this is the path for you to become more productive. Take the time to learn more about fitness and healthy eating.
Are you a good cook? Do you want to be? Cooking is the perfect productive activity for after work because, by the time the average individual gets home, it’s dinner time.
Rather than ordering takeout every night or heating up frozen meals, you can use your free time after your shift to learn how to cook amazing meals. You can even make a real hobby out of it. Go the extra mile and enroll yourself in a local cooking class.
Cooking for yourself is also a lot healthier than eating out. When you cook for yourself, you know all the ingredients that are going into your meals. You can use fresh food, get creative with spices, and utilize new techniques.
If you get good enough, you can even use your newfound cooking abilities to entertain guests. Cook for your family and friends; this is the perfect way to pay it forward with your productivity and share your accomplishments with others.
Spend Time with Family
Perhaps the most popular way people like to use their time after work is to spend time with their families. At the end of a long day, all the members of a family come home under the same roof. There are only a few hours between the end of your workday and bedtime, so it’s nice to use that time to hang out with your family and get some quality time in.
Family can mean a lot of different things. Maybe you’re married with kids, and you like to spend your evenings chatting, playing games, going to the park, or watching a movie. You may also just live with your spouse, and the two of you like to get your quality time in during the hours after work.
If you live at home with your parents, after work is a nice time to sit and catch up with them. They’ll probably appreciate that you want to spend time with them.
Even if you live alone with your dog, the evening is still a nice time to make phone calls to your loved ones or video chat with a relative who lives far away.
Family time is very valuable, so using your moments after work to nurture those relationships is a very productive use of your time.
Go Out with Friends
You work hard, and so do your friends; you deserve a night out every once in a while. Here and there, it’s nice to plan after work drinks or dinner with some of your friends. The older we get, the more difficult it gets to make time for everyone to get together. Take advantage of your time now to really invest in your friendships.
While you’re a good friend by staying involved in other people’s lives, you are also giving yourself and others something to look forward to while you’re still at work. Making after work plans with your friends is not just beneficial for you, but for your friends as well.
Cleaning anything is super productive. If you don’t believe me, there’s a good chance you have never really cleaned anything before.
Homes get messy. Dishes pile up in the sink, the bathroom starts to take on a lingering smell, and the laundry basket spills over. These things need to be taken care of at some point, and what better time then when you get off from work?
None of these chores are what I would call particularly fun, but if you’re looking to be productive, they certainly take the cake. The awesome thing about cleaning is that you can usually do it while enjoying something else.
For example, you can fold the laundry in front of the TV. While sitting on the couch all night watching television isn’t considered productive, folding laundry as you watch definitely is. When you do the dishes or clean the bathroom, you can listen to music or a podcast.
With cleaning, you can be productive, have some fun, and sometimes even get a little bit of exercise. A three-in-one activity: now that’s pretty productive.
Further Your Education
Whether you went to college or not, furthering your education is always a solid option. Maybe you have thought about going back to school before, and maybe this is a new idea for you to think about. The fact is, learning is very productive.
These days, there are tons of options for furthering your education. You can take night classes at the local community college, or you can enroll in online classes at colleges and universities around the world. That way, you can plan your education around your work schedule, only attending classes after work is done.
Taking classes can be to earn a higher degree like your master’s or Ph.D., but you can also take singular classes for fun or to learn a new skill. Many community colleges will offer basic classes that anyone can sign on for.
Take a writing class, an art class, or a knitting class. Take anything that is going to help you learn and grow your knowledge. You’re never unproductive when you’re expanding your intelligence.
We have all taken part in some sort of home improvement project at one time or another, whether it was a large project or a small task. Either way, we also all know that these things can’t be done during the workday.
After work is the ideal time to tackle any home projects that need to be done. Sure, you could do them on the weekend, but most people like to reserve their weekends for fun activities, not repairing clogged drains and spackling.
A project that might take up a whole Saturday could be split between the hours you have available after work during the week. Take an hour or two each day to start crossing home improvement tasks off your list. It’s a great way to stay productive, and whoever lives with you will be happy that their home is in good shape again.
Go to Bed Early
This may seem like the opposite of productive, but think about how much later you are likely to stay up if you come home and sit in front of the television. Most people do not get enough sleep. Not only can you choose to go to bed early, but you can use the hours leading up to bedtime in a productive way that will help you get better sleep.
Studies show that watching TV or staring at any kind of screen right before bed hinders our sleep. Experts recommend shutting down electronics like TVs and cellphones at least 30 minutes before you go to bed.
Rather than filling your time with a show or scrolling through social media, you can use various techniques to wind down for the evening. Reading before bed is an excellent way to wind down. You can also enjoy a hot bath or do some meditating to help calm you down and promote better sleep
Never go to bed on an empty stomach. Enjoy a nice light snack and some water in the time leading up to sleep as well. Focusing on good sleep habits is a highly productive activity that will benefit you for the rest of your life.
The truth is that life goes on after your work day is over. There are still so many hours left in the day after you clock out, and time is precious. It’s important to use those hours to their fullest potential.
Remaining productive after work can be quite a challenge, but it’s not impossible. And, as we have seen today, there are many benefits to reap from staying productive and using all the hours in your day.
Remember to stay motivated and focus on all of the good you are accomplishing. But, also remember that it’s okay to take a break here and there. Everyone needs a couple of lazy hours to de-stress and let their minds reset. Don’t push yourself too hard, but don’t give up either!