The Daily Routines I Use to Bring Calm to my Work

I have done a video of this as well which is embedded at the bottom of the post or if you want to just view it on YouTube click this super awesome specially crafted link. It’s like magic…trust me.

Like many of you, I’ve read Getting Things Done. I can explain what GTD is, and I know the Bullet Journal System. I’ve tried many different task managers, and mostly rely on a paper based system.

For so many of my first stops I continued to have the same problems. My tasks would get out of hand and I’d feel overwhelmed. The software that was supposed to magically fix my life, didn’t do anything of note.

It all came down to my systems, or lack of systems. Today I’m going to walk you through my review process and my daily shutdown routines. By implementing these and sticking to them, my life feels like it’s under control.

Shut Down Routines

I’ve known I should do a task and project review for a long time. I had the feeling many times that my projects were a weight I couldn’t push off me. Something I’d never be able to lift.

I had productivity data based on my time tracking that I lost 20% productivity if I didn’t do a proper review. I wrote in Analogue Productivity that you need to set your tasks for the next day the night before.

And yet, sometimes I’d go weeks between doing the very things I said you should be doing. I’d get heads down in work and forget to do my review. I’d look up and realize that my wife needed to go coach figure skating and I had no time to wind my day down well.

I’ve put an end to that by leveraging a daily shut down routine. I took this seriously enough that I even allowed Things to send me a notification. If this is the first time you’re reading my work, then know I haven’t had a single notification on my iPad for years.

Daily Work Shutdown

The first routine you need is one that ends your day. Mine is set to run at 2:30 pm because I need to be available to my family by 3:00 pm daily. If I’m working that still gives me 10 – 15 minutes to make notes about where I’m at so I don’t start from zero the next time I pick up a project.

My current shutdown routine is:

  • Clear Things inbox
  • Tidy desk
  • Archive any finished video projects
  • Plan tasks for tomorrow
  • Do ankle physio
  • 10 pushups
  • STAY AWAY FROM WORK

When my notification comes up, I step through the tasks at hand. I clear my task manager inbox then tidy my desk. I look at any video projects that need to be archived and if they’re huge I put together a task for that and I might do it later in the night or as I walk away. I have to do this because it can take quite a while to archive a LumaFusion project.

While any video projects are archiving, I’ll pull out my Bullet Journal and alongside Things I write down my AM and PM tasks in my Bullet Journal. I don’t rely on Things for this level of task management because it’s far to easy to look at 99 things I can’t do. By writing it down in my Bullet Journal I have a small list of things to do.

I wrote about how I use my Bullet Journal for a Web Business, and a whole book an Anologue Productivity if you want to dig deeper.

Daily House Shutdown

The next daily routine I have is a daily house shutdown which includes:

  • Dishes away
  • Medicine for kid
  • Sweep floor
  • Coffee ready to brew tomorrow
  • Doors locked
  • No wet laundry in machine
  • Garbage
  • Recycling

These I don’t step through in sequence, and some of them I’ll do early in the day like the laundry one. If I’m doing laundry and empty the washer without putting more stuff in it I check the task off.

Currently this is set to remind me at 9:00 pm. In theory I’ve been working towards shutting the house down since at least dinner when the dishes were done. The reminder is there for the nights I forget and leaves me with time to do the work without going to bed crazy late because I get up before 5:00 am.

The great thing is that when I’ve worked through all the tasks and the kids are in bed, I feel a sense of freedom with the time I have in the night. I can sit and read until my Fitbit buzzes at me to go to bed, because I’ll get involved in the book and stay up late without a reminder.

Another house related checklist is the Thursday night pizza check. It seems that most weeks for months someone starts making pizza only to find that they are missing some crucial ingredient like flour. With a Thursday check of all the ingredients we should always have what we need because I’ve touched every single item.

Friday and Monday Routines

Another crucial time to have a routine is to shut down your work for the weekend and start it up for the week. I have two recurring tasks in Things for this.

Friday Shutdown

  • Charge a bunch of devices and they’re all listed
  • Vacuum my office
  • Make sure all my video projects are archive on the external drive hanging off my Mac
  • Clear Things Inbox
  • Deal with any “Today” tasks leftover from the week
  • Review Things Projects
  • Plan the next week

I start this shutdown routine first thing in the morning when I plug my Fitbit in to start charging. It finishes when I have the week ahead planned in my Bullet Journal.

On Monday I want to make sure that I start the week right so my list includes:

  • Charging devices
  • Review the plan for the week to make sure it’s still right

I know I set the plan on Friday, and I don’t check my work over the weekend so it’s not like I can have a bunch of extra stuff to do on Monday morning. The thing is with three kids and switching off work and child care with my wife I regularly find that the week needs to change as we talk over the weekend.

Sitting back down with any notes on what has come up on Monday morning means that I’m not concerned the plan won’t work.

Why don’t you use a Bullet Journal for your routines?

Yes, I wrote a whole book on using only Analogue Productivity methods and I’ve just told you that I use Things to handle my routines. I did try having my routines in my notebook, and the kept not getting done.

One of the best things about a notebook is that it doesn’t interrupt you. You can sit down with it and work and nothing will jump out to tell you to pay attention to anything but your notebook. When it comes to a daily routine that I’m not getting to, this is a bad thing.

As I’ve already said, I have allowed Things a coveted notification spot on my iPad. In fact it’s the only application that can notify me of anything at all. On my iPhone only Messages and Things and a phone call will bring a notification to me.

Over the weeks I’ve been using these routines, I’ve been reminded almost every day that I need to stop work and make sure I clear the decks for the next day. It’s never been an annoyance and has always felt like a relief at the end of the day when I’m reset and ready for the next day.

I’m still using my Bullet Journal daily, but it’s a tool. Things is a tool and tools should be used for the thing they’re best at. In this case, Things can notify me in a way that my Bullet Journal can’t.

This doesn’t mean I won’t be changing my routines into my Bullet Journal. I’ve seen some great habit tracking spreads on YouTube that I’m going to try for December. I would like to get back to a single place for all my projects and tasks and I want that place to be my notebook. I will still leverage a notification of some fashion in iOS to remind me to get to my routines though because without an interruption I’ll forget.

What about you? Do you have a daily reset or shutdown routine? How are you making sure that it gets done?

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