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Breakthrough Ways to Absolutely Crush Your Workday Shutdown Routine

This post was first published on my Medium blog—follow me there for the most up-to-date entries!

Michael Hyatt, the Full Focus Planner creator, tells us to (1) wrap up our day and (2) set up for success tomorrow. But he doesn’t offer specifics about how to create a workday shutdown routine. Here are some examples and ideas.

What activities will wrap up your day?

Hyatt and other productivity gurus suggest shutdown activities that swirl around:

· Check email

· Check Slack

· Check task manager

Those activities could work beautifully for some people. But to me, they feel like a trap. Chances are, there will be something in my email, Slack, or task manager that will delay me from getting out of the office.

Some people like to check social media before they finish for the day. But again, that might be a time-suck. Be aware of what pulls your forward, and what keeps you stuck.

Here are some wrap-up activities for a workday shutdown routine that may or may not work for you:

· Review all the items on your to-do list from the day, and make sure you’ve checked all the ones you’ve completed.

· Recognize the undone tasks but resist the urge to beat yourself up. That isn’t helpful, and in fact, it’s hurtful.

· Whether you’re using an analog or digital planner (or both), make a mark or comment to reflect their status. Perhaps:

o Done

o In progress

o Question mark (questions about status, relevancy, or how-to steps might be reasons to use a question mark)

· Determine how to deal with the undone tasks. To do so, consider which of the classic “Ds” should happen to those tasks tomorrow (or perhaps, later). Attributed to Dalia Goldberg, the four Ds are do, delay, delegate, or drop this task.

· Unless it’s a task that should be dropped (deleted), mark it with a “forward” arrow, and commit to doing it tomorrow, or, if it makes more sense, doing it on a different day.

· Clear off your desk.

· Log off or shut off any pieces of equipment that need to be powered down. This could be your computer, but it could also be the coffee maker or the lights.

What activities will enable you to jump-start tomorrow?

Certainly, the answer to this is very different from person to person, and perhaps even from day to day. Hence, as you plan your workday shutdown routine, remember that what’s most effective depends very much on your line of work.

Several activities might help you to set yourself up for success tomorrow. Most times, those activities will be around three things: (1) knowledge/organization, (2) skills, or (3) materials you’ll need to set yourself up for a productive day.

Here are just a few examples of each of those three.


· Write down every task you think you need to do. Start your list with an active verb. Writing only a topic or subject doesn’t work. For example, “tax” is a noun; a topic. Active verbs might be “gather 1099s for income tax” or “call accountant about income tax” or “look up dates of buying/selling property last year.”

· Prioritize your Big 3 tasks for the next day. These are, as Tony Robbins would say, the “must dos.” They are nonnegotiable. The other tasks are “should-dos,” but that are important, but can never take a back seat to the three must-do daily tasks. (Robbins warns not to “should all over yourself.”) And if you’re gone for a good part of the day — perhaps you’re in meetings for half of the day — you might want to prioritize only two activities for the day. (Or even one!)

· Create a quick fact sheet for the critical details of your new project or launch: Using only dot points, list the who, what, when, where, and why. If you can summarize this in less than a half page, it will save you from hunting up details later.

· Print out your agenda for tomorrow’s meeting(s). (Yes, I still print them out!)

· Send a reminder email to someone who is on your calendar for tomorrow.

· Enter a phone number into your contact file for someone you need to call tomorrow.

Skills and how-tos

· Identify the link for a YouTube video you need to watch before you start an unfamiliar task tomorrow.

· Look up the rules to comply with a legal or tax requirement you need to submit.

· Find an article that succinctly summarizes the pros and cons related to a decision you must make tomorrow.

· Find a sample or template of something similar to the thing you need to create tomorrow. For instance, if you’ve never written a policy on employee leave, find an example that seems like the one you’d like in your own small business.


· Take a photo of something before heading out to replace it. For example, your task tomorrow is to replace a vitamin supplement, but you sometimes forget the brand or the dose when you’re standing in the store.

· Put an item in your car that needs to go with you to tomorrow’s appointment.

· Load more paper or into your printer.

The above examples aren’t all-inclusive, but they might enable you to shake loose similar examples that are swirling around in your own mind. Take a few minutes to consider what you might need to wrap up today or jump start tomorrow.

What are best practices for workday shutdown routine?

Here are some best practices that will help you to establish and maintain an effective routine.

1. Write out your workday shutdown routine. Every Full Focus Planner has a page for this, but you could write it with a crayon on the back of an envelope. It won’t matter. The key is to write it down.

2. Estimate the time it will take you to do three “regular” activities that are part of the wrap up and three that are part of the jumpstart.

3. Stick to those three until you realize that you need something different, or until you decide to allot more time or less time for the shutdown routine.

4. Determine a time to start your workday shutdown. It does not need to be the same time each day. (My shutdown starts at 5:30 PM on Wednesdays, but it starts at 4 PM on Fridays.)

5. Allot minutes to what I might call categories of tasks, not to day-specific tasks. And, remember to give an estimate for the number of minutes you might need each day. But here’s an example of how to lay out the categories of a workday shutdown routine.

Understand, these are only examples of activities within each category, and a wild stab at how much time might be allotted for each. For some people, these will be generous time frames, yet for others, maybe too skimpy.

Just take your best swipe at how long your workday shutdown might take, start on time, and revise as you go along.

Whatever you do, try not to let your actual “working” activities of the day bleed into your workday shutdown routine. There are several reasons why that might happen (and several remedies!) but I’ll tackle that later in another post.

So, which of these ideas was most helpful to you?

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Part of a series on routines: learn to maximize your Morning Routine, Work Startup Routine, Workday Shutdown Routine, Evening Routine, Getting to Bed on Time, and When Your Routines Aren’t Working

This post was first published on my Medium blog—follow me there for the most up-to-date entries!

I am a Full Focus Certified Pro, and an affiliate, and earn fees by linked to products.

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