How I Start And Finish My Working Day

Caroline Leon
5 min readJun 6, 2023

Any ritual is an opportunity for transformation. To do a ritual, you must be willing to be transformed in some way. The inner willingness is what makes the ritual come alive and have power. If you aren’t willing to be changed by the ritual, don’t do it.

~ Starhawk

In this article, I want to share with you two daily rituals I use to have a more productive and sane working day and to switch off completely after my working day is over. These are my Start of Day Ritual and my Shutdown Ritual. Read on for all the details.

I’ve tried all of the things when it comes to feeling organised and on top of my ever expanding to do list. You name the tool and I’ve tried it, Things, Todoist, Trello, Asana and the list goes on! More recently I reverted back to good old pen and paper in collaboration, of course, with my online calendar. I’ve been using this system for some time now and it’s working well for me.

Start of Day Ritual

Every morning after my morning ritual (which consists of journaling, exercise, breakfast and shower), I sit down at my desk and begin my Start of Day Ritual.

Step 1:
I review my agenda for the day. I use Google Calendar and use colour to differentiate between different entries. For example, red refers to paid offerings like client sessions or group program live calls, purple refers to content creation, orange is lead generation and yellow is breaks. To see an example day in my schedule, see the image below.

As I review, I allow myself to feel positive feelings towards each activity. This might look like expressing gratitude or taking time to consider what I enjoy about each activity.

This is especially important for those things that I don’t feel particularly excited by, like admin or sometimes even my content creation (gasp!). But taking the time to lean into appreciation as well as review what’s on the agenda for the day helps me to feel more connected with the day ahead and avoids any last minute surprises.

Step 2:
Once I’ve completed step 1, I head to my paper planner, which is simply a day per page diary and I write out (or review) my three most important tasks for the day (if I haven’t done it the night before).

The key here is to choose no more than 3 tasks. The reason for this is to avoid overwhelm and to set up my day to have easy wins. I can usually manage 3 tasks each day, as long as they are tasks that have been broken down into manageable chunks, which means a real sense of achievement as I tick each task off.

When we constantly work from a long and overwhelming to do list, we miss out on the sense of achievement or the feeling of pride we feel when we can mark a task complete and know that we did everything we set out to do for the day.

Some clients of mine worry that 3 things is not enough to keep up with everything they have to do. That’s fine. Once you’ve completed your 3 things for the day, if there is still more time and more things to do simply add them to your list for the day. But remember no more than 3 things at any given time!

See below to see what this looks like in practice.

Step 3:
I schedule anything on my to do list for the day (from the THREE things!) into any free spaces on my google calendar. If there is no space, then I have to adjust my expectations of what I can get done that day. Or move things around, if there is something I absolutely must get done. The key is that what’s on my list and what time and space I have available are aligned.

Once all 3 of those steps are complete, I feel ready and prepared for the day ahead.

Shutdown ritual

At the end of the day I have another ritual to close my working day. I first heard of this concept from a book I love called Deep Work by Cal Newport. Using his suggestion, I’ve created my own shutdown ritual.

Step 1:

Take a final look at my email inbox to ensure that there is nothing requiring an urgent response before the day ends and to file in the relevant folder (or archive) any emails I’ve already dealt with.

Step 2:

Transfer any new tasks that are on my mind into my master to do list in my paper planner. I keep my master to do list on several pages I have allocated at the front of my paper planner. If there is anything that has a specific deadline which isn’t the following day I will create a task in my google calendar with a date and time so that it doesn’t get missed.

Step 3:

Review my task lists and calendar to ensure nothing urgent is coming up that I’ve forgotten about.

Step 4:

If there is anything I absolutely must do the next day I write it in my day planner, in my list of 3 tasks for the next day.

Step 5:

Tidy my desk, shut down my laptop, leave my keyboard/mouse charging and last but not least I lock my office (my three year old likes to sneak in there when nobody is looking to mess with my pens and papers!).

Step 6:

Finish the ritual by saying “shutdown complete” and go to hang out with my family, free from any niggly work concerns.

And there you have it two simple and fairly quick (neither takes more than 20 minutes) rituals I perform on a daily basis to keep myself organised and on top of my workload. Do you have a ritual or routine you use to start or end your working day? If so I’d love to hear from you! Let me know in the comments below.

If you’d like to read more from me like this directly in your inbox, you can head here to subscribe to my Soulful Strategies Weekly.

--

--

Caroline Leon

Business Coach helping conscious change makers to build and grow sustainable businesses, using strategies rooted in integrity. https://carolineleon.com