The importance of start-up and shutdown rituals: Part 2

shutdown rituals

In the first part of this series, we discussed the importance of rituals and how morning-time rituals can improve daily feelings of health and wellness.

In the high-stress world of law firms, having end-of-day rituals can be just as critical. Deadlines, demanding clients, and the constant pressure for perfection can leave us at wit’s end by closing time. Indeed, for many of us, it is nearly impossible to turn off the tension and worries that accumulate during the day.

Fortunately, there are end-of-day practices that can help each of us leave these worries behind. Part 2 explores some of the habits you should add to the end of the workday and just before bed to make your evenings much more relaxed.

[textblock style=”1″]Less time troubleshooting means more time decompressing. Download the guide to Troubleshooting for Microsoft Word>>[/textblock]

Rituals for the end of work

From time to time, we all reach the end of a workday feeling exhausted, yet highly stressed at the same time. Lamentably, we also find ourselves unmotivated to begin significant tasks that remain on our to-do list. Nonetheless, we can use some key shut down rituals to end each day productively.

#1 Clean your office

Even in today’s increasingly “paperless” offices, things like project files, legal treatises, and document drafts tend to pile up. All of this clutter can actually decrease productivity and increase confusion. The good news is, tidying up doesn’t take much brain-power, making it a perfect late-afternoon ritual. You can feel a bit more productive when five o’clock comes around, plus you’ll start the next morning with a clean slate.

#2 Organize your emails

So much critical information is shared via email today. From confidential client communications to final orders from the court, emails flow into our computers constantly. There are so many, in fact, that we can sometimes miss important items. So a great end-of-day activity is to organize that inbox.

One good strategy is to remove everything from your inbox except unopened items. This forces you to categorize opened emails into existing file and simultaneously alerts you to those things you still need to deal with.

#3 Make plans for tomorrow

We all end most workdays with a long to-do list. Before shutting down the computer, why not make specific plans about which items you’ll complete the following day? Interestingly, scientists have found that people who use this ritual tend to have significantly fewer intrusive thoughts about what still needs to be done. You’ve already put those items at top of mind for tomorrow so no need to worry tonight.

#4 Brush up on current legal news

Regardless of your practice specialty, the law is constantly changing. If you don’t keep up with recent court decisions and legislative changes, you can quickly lose your edge. Reading up on these changes is a relaxing way to end the day and can also enhance your skills and reputation around the office as a thought leader. Keep a folder in your bookmarks of top sites to check at the end of each day to stay up to date with the latest.

Need a place to start? Check out the top 10 blogs legal professionals should be following>>

Bedtime rituals

Once we leave the office, a whole host of other stressors can impact our lives. We may have houses to clean, bills to pay, kids to raise, or social obligations to meet. Some of us may participate actively in social media during the evening or spend time on other hobbies. This can make it hard to unwind. Luckily, there are a few simple rituals you can use to help prepare for restful sleep.

#1 Unplug

The demands of technology never cease. Whether it is the constant barrage of emails or an old friend who wants to catch up via social media, it seems someone is always vying for our attention by way of our electronic devices. Designate at least an hour before you head to bed and set aside those devices and technological distractions.

This also prevents work problems from sneaking up on you late at night. Don’t worry, the devices, emails, phone calls, and messages will be there in the morning.

#2 Meditate

Taking time to simply calm our minds can have wonderful benefits to our sleep and overall wellness. For one thing, it helps us to decompress and distance ourselves from the day’s worries.

#3 Take time for self-reflection

Benjamin Franklin reportedly asked himself the same question every day before he went to sleep: “What good have I done today?” Asking this question before nodding off may make us more likely to practice good deeds on a regular basis.

While the things we accomplish in the middle of our day are certainly important, performing key rituals in the morning, at the close of the workday, and at bedtime can make a significant improvement to our lives. Why not try it for a week and see what happens?


How about you? Have you tried any of the ideas from Part 1 of this series? Will you be using any of the shutdown rituals mentioned here? Share your story and what you’ve noticed so far.

Troubleshooting Microsoft Word

A free, detailed guide on all the basics of eFiling

Learn all the basics about eFiling with this eBook guide. If you have a workflow that needs improving, are new to eFiling, or just want a handy companion guide to share with your colleagues, then this is for you. Download this free eBook now.

    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    More to explore

    What is One Legal?

    We’re California’s leading litigation services platform, offering eFiling, process serving, and courtesy copy delivery in all 58 California counties. Our simple, dependable platform is trusted by over 20,000 law firms to file and serve over a million cases each year.

    One Legal Dashboard

    Legal Up Virtual Conference

    Register now to get actionable strategies and inspiration to level up your legal career.