Shutdown Routine


March 30, 2021

It was a casual Saturday morning, and I was waiting in front of an Akshaya Center to get my Aadhar Card photo updated. Even after one hour, the line hadn’t moved much. So I sort of decided to start reading one of my kindle E-books on my phone.

Shutting Down

The book was Deep work written by Cal Newport. I had purchased this book, for more than 2-3 months, yet I didn’t make much progress in reading this book. I had almost completed 30% of the book when I left it earlier. So I continued slowly reading through the book in a chair with five people surrounded around me.

The book first explains why Deep work is valuable, and later talks about how to achieve deep work. So on resuming reading in a queue, I stumbled upon the idea of having a Shutdown routine. I have to admit that, I am not good so far at managing work and life. Let me admit that writing this blog post completed only on Tuesday, because of this. There have been days when few of my colleagues have told it late and rest now at the midnight. It is always important to have a proper balance between life and work.

Let me introduce to you Kenneth Reitz, who is the author of famous python libraries like Request, Pipenv, Maya etc. He shared his experience with burnout. He was almost in a state of 410(where he was about to delete all the source code and beautiful software he had written for humans). Yet luckily for all of us, he didn’t go that extreme step. Check Kenneth’s essay on his blog on the reality of developer burnout

Shutdown routine is a state in the world where you decide to have a fixed end time for the various projects you build. And on the end of the day, decide to stop work with a specific shutdown routine.

Cal Newport in his book argues for a complete shutdown from work after a specific period as an important activity. He gives reasonable points why it’s important to have that down time every day after book:

  1. Down Time aids insights
  2. Down Time helps recharge energy needed to work deeply
  3. The work that evening downtime replace is usually not important

The reason to have shutdown principle is valuable is because of a principle called Zeibarnik effect. According to the Zeibarnik effect, interrupted and unresolved tasks can remain in our mind for a longer time and give a hard time. This is a cause for after-work stress which occurs even after work.

This stress constantly reminds the brain of the portion you haven’t completed that day, makes you think about the conversations you had at work and makes you in a sense where you are very less productive. This can cause you to work late in the night to complete the pending task, check emails or instant chat messages constantly even at night. This makes your work getting occupied for 24*7 hours every day.

So with the Zeibarnik effect, It’s making the time after work just more and more stressful. So what is the solution for this?

According to research, the best way to counter the Zeibarnik effect is to make a plan. This may involve creating a task list of pending items. Commit to a specific plan for a goal therefore not only facilitates the attainment of the goals but also free cognitive resources for other pursuits. With this, you have a clear plan for your work and helps you work more deeply at the required time. This avoids the constant amount of shallow which we are committing, which makes you less productive.

Cal calls to have a specific ritual before the end of the workday. In this time, you should create a plan on how to achieve the desired target, ensure the necessary communication is done and after this stop by saying I am shutting down(This is the the ritual which Cal Newport does to stop working). I am also planning to start planning this shutdown routine in the coming days and see how it goes.

So far I haven’t been able to not even complete a day with the new shutdown routine. I will update the article after seeing how my progress goes in the coming days.

Before leaving here are my three links for this week 👉: