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

2 Replies to “Shutdown Routine.”

  1. This is a very interesting and effective technique that I should personally try!
    Sometimes by working from home, I end up constantly working – you don’t have set up hours so you work whenever you want.
    That can be great from a side but some days are just like a no-stop hustle. I’ll make sure to try this shutdown routine before finishing the work for the day.

    Thanks for sharing this tip, Travis!
    Isa | https://isalillo.com

  2. Thanks for the comment Isa!

    Please do stop by and let me know how it worked out for you 🙂

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