A few years back, I read that people often waste/loose time during transitions. Transitions occur when you're moving from one project/activity to another, especially if it requires a big mental shift. Getting started in the morning is a transition from sleep to day. Getting your work day started requires a transition. Ending the work day requires a transition.
Transitional time is probably another example of the importance of beginnings and endings, only in this case not so much because of being excited about starting something new or being discouraged at the end of a unit of time. Just the opposite, in fact. With transitional time, we're talking about the difficulty of changing to a new thing. We're not excited about it or maybe feeling much of anything at all.
Over the years I've had periods when I had a long "pre-writing ritual" each morning involving checking my e-mail, hitting two news sites and a couple of on-line magazines, and then playing a few hands of some kind of computer solitaire. When I'm wrapping up work late in the afternoon, instead of shutting down and heading off for some life maintenance task (making dinner, for instance), I'll often check news sites again because something might have happened during the day, right? Then there's the whole issue of getting up off the couch in the evening and heading to bed. That can take me a good thirty minutes.
Those are all transitional times. I'm making the transition into work, from work into personal time, from personal time to bed. And it's rarely productive.
One of the few ways we can actually "find" some time is to make better use of transitions. Recently, I've been using the unit system during my morning transition into work. I give myself a fifteen-minute unit of time to work on decluttering my desk, which we've been talking about recently. I definitely can't give a multi-hour block of time to this. But fifteen minutes a day over a week is an hour and a quarter. If I ever finish, I can continue to use my morning transition to keep the desk under control. Or, perhaps, to work on emptying my e-mail in- and out-baskets. Yeah, I have trouble with that, too.
I haven't been able to get the transition at the end of the work day under control yet, but someone who can might prefer to use that time for de-cluttering the desk. That's recommended by many clutter/time management experts, though I find it a rough time to try to do that, myself.
Over the last couple of weeks, I've been trying to use the personal time to bed transition to do ten-minutes of house pick up. I was getting into that, but I found I was having trouble sleeping. Could be co-incidence. My family is littered with troubled sleepers. I'm wondering, though, if the surge of activity so late in the day is over-stimulating. I will keep you posted.