The Power of Leaving Work Slightly Unfinished


Are you familiar with the feeling of struggling to get into the flow state when you start work in the morning? You’re not alone. Many of us find it difficult to jump back into tasks after a break, especially if we left off at a stopping point. But what if there was a way to make that transition smoother and more productive? According to some developers, leaving work slightly unfinished at the end of the day can actually lead to an easier flow the next day.

The Benefits of Unfinished Work

Leaving work slightly unfinished has its advantages. One senior engineer mentioned that by identifying the root cause of a bug late in the afternoon and going home without fixing it, they were able to start the next day in a flow state. They knew exactly what they needed to do, which allowed them to dive right into the task and be productive from the beginning[^Atrine]. This approach provides a clear starting point and eliminates the uncertain, time-consuming decision-making process at the beginning of the day[^MatthiasWandel].

Balancing Understanding and Completion

It’s important to strike a balance between leaving work unfinished and ensuring a full understanding of the problem at hand. While leaving something slightly unfinished can be beneficial, it shouldn’t leave you with a vague or incomplete understanding. Make sure to document any key points, such as root causes or edge cases, that you may forget overnight[^coldtea]. Taking notes can help you bridge the gap between the previous day and the next, aiding in a better understanding of the task[^usrusr]. However, make sure to strike a balance and not get lost in over-documentation, as one developer lightheartedly shared their struggle with taking notes[^jayknight].

The Benefits of Rest and Reflection

Leaving work unfinished also allows for subconscious processing. Overnight, your brain continues to work on the problem, and you may wake up with fresh insights or even dream solutions[^icedchai][^el_benhameen]. This period of rest and reflection can lead to greater understanding and clarity when you return to the task the next day. Additionally, by not rushing to fix something immediately, you have more time to mull it over and potentially avoid hasty, incomplete fixes that could cause more issues in the long run[^bombcar].

Different Approaches for Different People

It’s essential to recognize that everyone’s working style is different. Some individuals find it beneficial to finish a task before the day ends, as it provides a sense of closure and prevents the task from lingering in their minds[^betenoire][^campbel]. Others prefer to start the next day with a clear plan and a fresh mind, using the unfinished work as a way to kickstart their flow state[^atsuzaki]. Some developers find that their creativity and problem-solving skills are sharpest in the morning, making first-code-of-the-day high quality[^crazygringo]. Ultimately, finding what works best for you and your workflow is crucial.

Tricks to Start the Day Right

If you decide to leave work slightly unfinished, there are strategies you can employ to make the most of it. Take advantage of the clarity of mind that comes in the morning, and focus on completing simple tasks that help you ease back into the flow state. For example, typing the rest of an unfinished word, finishing a sentence, or line of code can serve as small victories that jumpstart your productivity[^atsuzaki]. Additionally, setting a realistic and attainable plan for the day can provide guidance and motivation, helping you build momentum as you tackle your tasks[^betenoire].


Leaving work slightly unfinished at the end of the day may seem counterintuitive, but it can have a positive impact on your productivity. By providing a clear starting point and allowing for reflection and rest, unfinished work can help you ease into the flow state more easily. However, it’s important to balance this approach with a full understanding of the task at hand and to adapt it to your individual working style. With the right strategies and mindset, you can optimize your workflow and make those transitions from one day to the next seamless and productive.

So, the next time you find yourself at a stopping point in your workday, consider leaving it unfinished and see how it affects your flow the next day. Who knows, you might discover a new way to boost your productivity and creativity.



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