Establish A Shut Down Routine For Maximum Clarity

A shutdown routine is something you do at the end of your workday that tells your brain, I’m finished with work today.

By making a shut down routine part of your daily habits, you’ll find that your mind can focus on other things outside of your work.

Once your mind knows that your tasks have been handled for the day, you’ll be less likely to think about that email you need to send or that random task you should prioritize.

You can spend time with family and friends and be free from distraction.

Why You Should Have A Shutdown Routine

The case for a daily shutdown routine is simple.

It allows you to finish your work for the day with the knowledge that the things you need to do are being managed.

It can be easy to take your work home with you, especially in a world where many of us are already working from home.

You might justify this extra work to yourself saying “I’ll only spend an extra hour finishing this task” or “I’m already working on this project so I may as well finish it”.

Cue to hours later and you haven’t eaten your dinner or talked to your family all evening!

It’s very easy for this to happen, especially when there are lots of tasks and thoughts floating around in your head.

It can seem like it’s easier to get all the work done now instead of taking a break and doing it tomorrow.

The problem with this is that all these open loops or uncompleted tasks take up space in your mind.

This is what’s known as the Zeigarnik Effect and it can actually impair your ability to make good decisions.

One of the best ways to overcome this effect is with a shut down routine at the end of your workday.

As part of your shut down routine, you can:

  • Scan your tasks and the things you are working on
  • Make a plan for what to work on tomorrow
  • Then close your computer and get on with your day free from the stress of what you think you “should be doing”.

Lack Of Reflection Can Lead To Burn Out

Another challenge we can face is the problem of having a “putting out fires” mindset.

We might be stuck in the pattern of working on high-priority tasks as they’re thrown at us daily.

It can seem like we’re jumping from one fire to the next without stopping to refill the fire extinguisher.

Once the fire extinguisher is empty, we experience burnout.

We can become depressed, unable to make good decisions, unable to add any value to our work, and fatigued.

It’s possible to overcome this problem with regular reflection, which is something that a daily shut down routine can provide.

Of course, there are many other ways to implement regular reflection into your life.

If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of regular reflection, I wrote an article about that which you can find here:

Why Regular Reflection Can Help You Become More Productive

A shut down routine can:

  • Allow you to look back on your day objectively
  • Give you the space to take note of your workload or stress levels
  • Help you to plan for tomorrow

How To Create A Shut Down Routine

  • Schedule a time on your calendar each day to perform your shut down routine. It can be between 15–30 minutes depending on what you want to achieve.
  • Establish a set of prompts to guide you. You can create any you like, but here are some examples:

— How was my workload today?

— How were my stress levels today?

— Did I accomplish today what I set out to?

— What could I do better tomorrow?

— What tasks should I work on tomorrow?

— Any important calls or meetings tomorrow?

  • At the end of your routine, say to yourself “I am finished work for the day!”.
  • Actually do your shutdown routine at the end of each day, then turn off your computer and do other things

Conclusion

If you try it consistently for a couple of weeks, you might be surprised at the level of clarity you have over your work and your own mental state.

If you found some value in reading this article all the way to the end, please consider sharing it on social media. It will help others to find it.

This article was originally published over on my website: Establish A Shut Down Routine For Maximum Clarity.

I'm a designer, developer, and creator. I talk about being a productive designer.