Shutdown Routine.

I am currently reading a book called Deep Work: Rules for focused success in a distracted world by Cal Newport.


Cal Newport gives a ton of insight on the importance of having focused deep work session to truly get meaningful work done.  If you enjoy learning about human behavior and how to level up yourself as a productive person, I would totally recommend this book to you.

close-up photo of human finger pointing turned-off switch

Shutdown Routine

One tip, that helps to get effective work done, is to turn yourself off at the end of each day- this is called a Shutdown Routine. In a nutshell, overworking and constantly thinking about work can lead you to underperform in your job the next day. If you’re not careful this can become a habit where you find yourself constantly working and constantly overworking.

Surprise, surprise! You need to take care of your self in order to show up best for your job, family, and community. A shutdown routine can play a role in helping you perform better.

A shutdown routine is a set of task’s that follow a certain sequence at the end of each workday that lets your brain know – you’re done working. Without it, it is incredibly easy to work late into the night, not be present when you are with your family and have your mind running circles around you while you’re trying to sleep.

Be sure to turn the lights off before you leave.

A few years ago, I had a desk job at a heavy engineering company that did a lot of fabrication work for mines around South Africa. At the end of each day, about 15 – 20 minutes before “knock-off”, I would start my “shutdown routine” – at the time I didn’t call it that. It was very natural for me to do it and I found that if I missed this little routine, I would be flustered completely flustered and no matter how hard I tried, just couldn’t stop thinking about work and what I had to do the next day.

This is what I would do at the end of each day:

  1. Put on some music. Whatever I felt like at the time. This could be rock or something more relaxing like indie folk. (optional)
  2. Review my to-do list of the day.
  3. Start a new to-do list – I am a traditionalist, so a good ol’ pen and paper does the trick for me.
  4. Move any tasks that I did not finish that day to my new to do list.
  5. Add any new to-do tasks that came up during the day to my list.
  6. Check my emails one last time to see if there was anything I missed – if so, add them to the list. Tomorrow is another day.
  7. One final brain dump – if there was anything in my mind that was taking up “mental ram”, I would add it to my list.
  8. My favorite – tidy up my desk. There is nothing like leaving your office in a de-cluttered state. Imagine coming in the next day, to a beautifully arranged desk, ready to start the day.

When I did this – and I rarely missed it – I found I could truly turn my mind off. Having a plan for the next day and clearing all work from my mental ram helped me go home, not bombarded with thoughts about work.

Why not give it a try for a week and let me know how it goes?

Watch my Shutdown Routine in action

Change the word “Howdy” in the WordPress Admin Bar.

change the word howdy to hello in WordPRess Admin

Howdy 👋😊

If you have ever wanted to change the word “Howdy” in your WordPress Admin bar (the black bar at the top of your website that can be seen once you have logged in),  there are a couple of ways you can do this.

 


  1. Use a plugin from the WordPress.org repository.
  2. Use some custom code – recommended to use with a customization plugin – (an example of a customization plugin. You can also use add this to your functions.php file but this is no longer recommended.

The code gist above will change the word “Howdy” to “Hello”. If you want some further help editing this to other words or installing it on your site, let me know down in the comment section below.


 

All aboard the YouTube Train 🚂

I am happy to announce that I have officially become a YouTube Contributor and Creator. I even have 1 Subscriber, thanks, mom 🤣!

Check out my channel here –
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgUZn_acNkqJerzV75HkJ2A


Still very new, I have 4 videos on there focusing mainly on WordPress Tutorials walking through various plugin setups for Paid Memberships Pro and Yoohoo Plugins.


Content Creator?

I have been toying with the idea of becoming a content creator on YouTube for a while now and this might be the start of me doing that! Feeling excited.

While YouTube is incredibly saturated it will be an amazing challenge and learning curve for me to produce content and especially content that people want to see.

 

Once again, I owe the skills I learned surrounding video to my job at PMPro. Check out the videos I have made here – https://www.paidmembershipspro.com/step-by-step-guides/videos/

I am lucky enough to have made a few dozen this year alone!

Let’s see what the future brings 🤩

Making WordPress Things

My brother Andrew and I are working together on a project to build premium WordPress Plugins with the focus on User Management, WooCommerce, and some other cool integrations to boot!

Without a shadow of a doubt, this initiative was inspired by the amazing WordPress Power couple – Jason & Kim Coleman, founders of the popular membership plugin – Paid Memberships Pro.


We have two divisions of this project Yoohoo Plugins as well as Yoohoo themes.  While Yoohoo is not our full-time gig, we are working hard whenever we have the spare time to make sure these plugins/themes really add value to our users and help make their site making experience so much better!

As mentioned before, if it was not for the amazing support, inspiration, and education we received working at Paid Memberships Pro, I don’t think we would have come this far. Not even close.

WP Zapier

At the moment, one of our more popular plugins WP Zapier has really started gaining traction. With the skills I learned making tutorial videos for PMPro I was able to make this video to help promote our plugin.


Slow and Steady Wins the Race.

Even though our plugins are gaining popularity and traction, we have seen that progress is slow, which is fine. Wait. More than fine. Perfect in fact. We love what we do and what we are working on. If there is something that I have learned about online businesses is that it takes time, energy and commitment to succeed.

So for us, we plan to show up (when we can), be consistent, do our best and pivot if we need to 🙂

Deep Work

I am currently reading a book by Cal Newport called “Deep Work”.  As far a business books go, it is a pretty good read with a few simple concepts that, if applied, can help you achieve/learn/conquer/progress in pretty much anything you set your mind to. In a nutshell, if you want to “Learn complicated things quickly” and really get good at whatever you are working on, you need to spend uninterrupted time, dedicated to that one thing.

Simple, right? Well, not quite. You see, we live in an age where we have the World at our fingertips. At any moment we can pick up a relatively small device that is made from some glass and metal and quite literally connect with anyone, anywhere in the World. Astounding!

That is of course until you need to get some actual work done. Then one can quite quickly see how enslaved you can be to those endorphin-inducing notifications that your beloved device sends out ever so often.

man diving underwater photo

Going Deep

The concepts in Cal Newport’s book are not revolutionary. In fact, they are rather simple and quite obvious. That is exactly why I think, if applied, these concepts will work really well for me.

I currently live in a 3 bedroom apartment, with 3 adults a 4-year-old little “big” boy and a rather little dog(newly added). 4 of those things(me being one of them) I mentioned are at home most of the day, every day. This includes during conventional ‘work hours’. Needless to say, having moments of perfect silence and solitude, is quite a luxury.

In the book, the author writes about the importance of having uninterrupted time alone. This concept really resonated with me. Partly because it makes sense and as obvious as is sounds, when compared to how much time I spent in an uninterrupted, distraction-free state, I fell short miserably.

It takes around 25 minutes to refocus on a task once you have been interrupted. Just let that sink in for a bit

You see, for quite some time I have been a little frustrated with my time and how to manage it. Generally, I have a lot of things I want to learn, do, explore and achieve. I also find that I was not fully satisfied with the work I was pushing out and certainly felt that I never had enough time to properly finish certain tasks. When I read that “Multitasking” is actually quite detrimental to the quality of your work and that focusing solely on one task at a time for a prolonged period is far better in terms of quality and efficiency, I was thrilled.

turned on flat screen television

It was as if I could see a version of myself, behind my laptop. Constantly switching between browser tabs, website, and messaging apps. As soon as I was just getting somewhere with the next video I was creating: “Ping”, a new message. Better reply to the message as quickly as I can so I can get back to my video. Great, done. Oh yes, let me just really quickly reply to that one customer who needs their support questions answered. Sure, it can wait but I am sort of in between tasks now.

Apparently, it takes around 25 minutes to refocus on a task once you have been interrupted. Just let that sink in for a bit…

In my experience. Multitasking(or switching tasks before one task is finished) and leaving yourself open to being easily interrupted creates an environment where it takes you much, much more time to finish your work, at a quality that you are happy with.

I speak of work but this can be applied to other areas like learning a new skill or language for example.

Waking up early and deep diving my work was inspired by Ryan Carson, founder of Treehouse (first every online resource that taught me to code).

How to Deep Dive

Below is a list of things I have started doing that has helped me get more focused and banging out those tasks on todoist faster than you can say “Time to get things done.”

  1. Wake up at 04:30 am. Have a shower. Make Coffee. Start work at 05:00am(ish). Yikes!
  2. Work on one task at a time, with ninja-like focus. This takes practice.
  3. Remove any distractions. Mute notifications and get rid of anything that will draw your attention away from your task at hand.
  4. Tackle, the biggest, ugliest task on your to-do list first. You will know which this is because you will feel relieved once it is done.
  5. Move on to the next task. Aim to leave the easier more ‘shallow’ tasks for later in the day.
  6. Work in 25-minute sprints with 5-minute breaks. Known as the Pomodoro technique.
  7. Aim to do no more then 3-5 larger tasks on your to do list. I aim for 3 big tasks per day and have some bonus less urgent/important tasks on there too.

clear blue body of water

The Result

I have been able to get more work done, at a better quality and actually have more time for myself and family in the afternoon. By waking up early and working on my major to do’s first. I am able to spend my most creative energy in a more interruption-free environment (everyone is still sleeping😴) meaning that my tasks get done a lot quicker.

Most of the time, the act of just getting started on that ‘big’ to do item and then having enough time to really chew on it, is all you need to get it done. When we start feeling overwhelmed because we do not know where to start or what to do next, it is much more comforting to quickly reply to that email or do some admin than to actually do the work that really moves our work forward.

By 8 am or 9 am, half of my work day is done, most of my ‘big’ to-do tasks are done. I feel relieved and have more time in the late afternoon to spend time with my family, passion projects or whatever really 😃

silhouette photography of person on body of water

How do you get things done?

So, how do you get things done? I would love to hear more about any tips, tricks, hacks or strategies that you use to make a difference in your life.

Feel free to leave a comment below!


UPDATE – I should probably get to bed.

At the moment I was about to tweet this blog post out, I see the below tweet from ToDoist.

 

Note – Sleep is also really important in getting Deep Work done.