Things to do in the last few minutes of your workday

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(MoneyWatch) Depending on your job, the last few minutes of each day might drag on, or be filled with a flurry of things you need to get done in order to get out the door at a decent hour. You might already be prepping your next day's to-do list, but experts say there are even better ways to guarantee you'll be as productive as possible on your next workday. Here are three to try:

Update your computer.
Taking a few moments to accept those routine computer updates can prevent problem delays in the middle of your next day on the job. This is a great tip for those of us who tend to lose steam at the end of afternoon -- you don't have to actively think to watch your Mac or PC go through its paces. "If you wait until tomorrow, you'll waste several minutes of prime productivity time while you wait for these updates to install," says efficiency expert Andrew Jensen.

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Double-check your schedule.
Planning is key to increasing productivity, and opening and reviewing your calendar before you leave each afternoon can prevent you from coming in and being surprised by a meeting you forgot. "Such unexpected interruptions can throw you completely off course for the rest of the day. This helps you ensure that you've planned for all of your responsibilities," says Jensen.

Plan your first hour.
Julie Morgenstern, author of Time Management From the Inside Out, says to take extra care when designating tasks for the next workday's first hour. "The first hour of each workday sets the tone for the day -- either fueling you with a powerful sense of control and accomplishment, or frittering away your energy and focus on a bunch of small, inconsequential tasks. At the end of each day, ask yourself -- what is the one thing on my to-do list that would give me the greatest sense of relief, achievement and contribution to my company?" If you can, leave those files open on your computer or lay physical ones in the middle of your desk, says Morgenstern: "When you arrive in the morning, you can hit the ground running."

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    Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who has been published in dozens of magazines (including Glamour, Self and Redbook), websites (including AOLHealth.com, Babble.com and Details.com) and newspapers (including The New York Post and the Boston Globe). To read more of her writing, visit AmyLevinEpstein.com.

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