The Sunday scaries are real and can take all the joy out of the weekend. Learn how to create a personalized Friday shutdown routine that allows you to transition from work to relaxation in less than 15 minutes. We’ll go over a simple step-by-step plan, why you’ll want to try it, and how to customize it for your own life. If you’re sick of worrying about work and ready to be more present on the weekends, then this snackable episode is for you!

here’s a glance at this episode:

  • [4:34] Recognize that intentional routines help us transition seamlessly between activities even when we’re physically in the same space. 
  • [6:27] Learn our simple Friday shutdown routine in 3 simple steps: 
    • [7:01] Step 1: Check-in on all work programs and then log out or close everything including internet tabs, emails, and other work programs like Slack. 
    • [10:01] Step 2: Prep for next week! Look at your calendar and plan out big tasks, goals, or meetings as much as possible for the upcoming week. Move tasks that weren’t completed this week to next week. 
    • [13:19] Step 3: Close everything work-related and leave work (physically and/or mentally) for the weekend. If you work from home, mentally check out of work.
  • [15:13] Gain additional understanding from community questions about the Friday shutdown routine.

links mentioned in this episode

Why Shameless Experimentation is the Key to Making Things Happen with Serena Wolf

read the transcript

Robyn Conley Downs: (00:01)

You’re listening to The Feel Good Effect. So I used to suffer from the Sunday scaries, but I don’t anymore. And it’s because of this. And I’m gonna give you this step-by-step on how you can do it yourself. Let’s make it happen.

Robyn Conley Downs: (00:17)

Radically simple and ridiculously doable. The Feel Good Effect will help you redefine and wellness on your terms. Hi, I’m your host Robin Conley downs. And I believe that wellness isn’t about achieving another set of impossible standards, but instead finding what works for you, drawing from cutting-edge science on mindfulness, habit and behavior change. This podcast offers a collection of small mindset shifts that allow for more calm, clarity, and joy in everyday life and allows you to embrace the idea that gentle is the new perfect. I invite you to listen in, as we cut through the clutter and find the small shifts that create huge changes in your life. Less striving, more ease. It’s time to feel good.

Robyn Conley Downs: (01:06)

Well, Hey, Feel Good fam. I am so glad you’re here for this episode on my Friday shutdown routine. I’m gonna give you the step-by-step on the Friday shut down routine, and then how you can do it yourself. Now. Here’s what you need to know. I am no stranger to the Sunday scaries. Before this all started – before and The Feel Good Effect I was working full-time and I was in school at nights and I had a two-year-old, well, I had a newborn and then a two-year-old and I absolutely dreaded going to work on Monday and Sundays were kind of almost ruined, which is so sad to think about. You know, I had two days to spend with my family and to recharge and restore. And a lot of Sunday was spent kind of dreading going back to work.

Robyn Conley Downs: (01:53)

And that is definitely a bigger conversation than we’re having today. I think we could talk a lot in future episodes about how to kind of make our weeks a little more joyful and find more purpose. So that of actual work is less dreadful. But when I left my normal nine to five kind of corporate career to start my own business, I thought, well, of course, I’ll never get the Sunday scaries again, because I like what I’m doing. I have a lot of purpose here. I feel fulfilled by the work. And so it’ll be fine, but what is, it’s true – I am much happier in my daily life on a regular basis. I feel good, right? I feel good effect and I don’t dread the work, but I still found that I was slipping into those dreaded Sunday scaries of kind of feeling overwhelmed about what was kind to come and really like ruminating on all this things I needed to do because the bottom line is just like any other job running your own business – there’s a lot to do, and there’s more than I can do at any given time. And it was the anxiety about the work, not the work itself that was causing that, you know, kind of feeling of dreading the work week and, and feeling kind of down and blue on a Sunday.

Robyn Conley Downs: (03:06)

And so I took a step back and kind of asked how can I address this with our Feel Good Effect, mindset and habits and tools because it doesn’t have to be this way. I am getting all the work I need to get done. And I chose this path in this life and this business so that I could be present on the weekends and enjoy that time, use it to be with my family and use it to do things I love and to be present and not to be thinking about work. So I came up with my own Friday shutdown routine as a way to mark the end of the week and transit in into the weekend.

Robyn Conley Downs: (03:40)

And I find the Friday shutdown routine to be even more essential for me because I work from home. And so there is no obvious end to the workday. And this is true even before March 2020, I’ve been working from home for quite a few years now. And so there’s no commute home. There’s no walking out of the building and entering a new space. And so I had to create that transition for myself. And now I find that it just makes such a difference mentally to know I’m closing the book on work and I’m done with this now. And now I can transition into my weekend, even though for me, that literally means standing up from my desk and walking into the other room that I’ve been walking in and out of all day. So there’s nothing different, but it creates this sense of change. An end of one thing, a beginning of another.

Robyn Conley Downs: (04:34)

And I talk here a lot about routines and the importance of routines and how routines are really just habits stacked together. And here we’re using a routine to create a transition. And if you never thought about how important like a transition routine is then think back to a time where you either spent time with a toddler or raised a toddler, and you are probably familiar with the cleanup song, and I’m not gonna sing it, but you probably know it, it, and that song creates an end to one thing and usually a transition to something else. It helps them the toddler or the young child focus on the task at hand, but it really signals like we’re done with the thing we’re doing. And now we’re moving on to the next thing.

Robyn Conley Downs: (05:18)

And the thing about transitions is that they can actually be hard, are mentally difficult to like end one thing and start another. And that’s what we see in toddlers or children. If you study child development or even spent time with kids, you can see that the transition time is a lot of times when behavior comes up the most. And I don’t think this a challenge around transition goes away as you age. I think we just kinda learn how to manage it, or we don’t learn how to manage it. And we just think we should be better at it. So one, I just wanna highlight that this is a transition in our a day and also a week. Now, obviously, if you don’t work like, a Monday through Friday schedule, you could adapt this to whatever your work week looks like. Or even if you’re not in a, a job, if you’re managing your household and you still have weekends, you know, your schedule changes from probably weekday to weekends, you could adopt this and just kind of acknowledging that transitions can be facilitated and enhanced and made better with the, these kinds of routines, these intentional routines that kind of help us make our way from one place to another mentally. And, you know, even if you’re not physically going anywhere, so let’s get into it.

Robyn Conley Downs: (06:27)

There are three steps to my Friday shutdown routine, and it’s really about closing up and clearing out so I can be more present on the weekend and not be thinking about work or what didn’t get done or what needs to be done. And I find, especially as a highly anxious, highly sensitive person, that, that what didn’t get done and what needs to get done can kind of be where my anxiety can go. And so having this line in the sand that kind of puts an end to that has been so freeing for me during those days off. So there’s three steps to my Friday shutdown routine.

Robyn Conley Downs: (07:01)

And step one is closing everything out. And I know that I’m gonna get resistance from people of telling me why they can’t do this. So make it your own, take what you need, leave what you don’t, but keep an open mind because I definitely have plenty of work I can continue doing, and I will address some kind of questions and resistance at the end here, but keep an open mind and how you might be able to adapt this to you, your work style, the kind of work you do. So whenever I’m ready to end the day on Friday, I do a final sweep and a shutdown. So I will do a final sweep of inboxes of which I have have five, or there’s a lot of inboxes for our, our various businesses. So I do a final sweep and do I get to inbox zero? Not usually, but I’m looking for like what really needs to be responded to now. And usually there’s not too much because by the end of the day on Friday, most people are out of office. I am on the west coast, which is like a benefit. Most of the east coast people have already left. Um, I’ve tried to like connect with our team, see if they need anything from me for the weekend. So it’s really kind of like a mental, um, check, like, okay, here’s, what’s left in these inboxes. This can all get done later and I’m done. And so I will actually then, and check that off. Then I go and look at slack, which is our team, you know, chat and I’ll look at blog comments, I’ll look at Instagram comments. I’ll look in our coaching community, all the places that I am kind of expected to be. And then this is the important part, like I’ll address anything that’s urgent or pressing. And then I literally, and mentally close all the tabs. And I know some of you don’t ever close tabs on your computer. I do. So I will actually close the tab of the emails. I will close slack. I will close Instagram. Sometimes I delete Instagram on the weekends, kind of depends. I’ll close the dashboard on the blog. And I think this kind of mental and physical closing of tabs is even more important than ever in a digital age where we’re connected all the time, because we can, if we want work all time and I am old enough to remember a time where that wasn’t true. So if you were a teacher or a doctor or a professor comes to mind, you would actually leave work and then you were done with work. And that was not very long ago. And we have now created all of these systems that allow us to continue to work and have no boundaries. And so I think maybe it shouldn’t be just on us. I think this is a more of a institutional and social issue, not just an individual one, but because I work for myself, I have to take it up on myself to make some boundaries. And so this closing out is the kind of a equivalent of if we lived 20 years ago or more like I am leaving the office and I am done. Okay.

Robyn Conley Downs: (10:01)

So step two is actually like a mini planning session. So I will open my calendar and I use Google Cal, and I will open our project management system, which is called this Asana. But for you, it could be like your calendar or your day planner anywhere where you kind of keep track of what needs to be done. So for me, that’s my paper planner, which I’ve like modified to be my own personal paper planner. So I’ve got my Google calendar, my project management software and my paper planner that can be, you could have all of those. I don’t know what use. So kind of think about what you use, that’s what you would have. And this step is all about mapping out the following week. Now I don’t always know exactly what’s gonna happen in my week. Meetings come up, tasks come up, that I couldn’t, you know, anticipate, but I do what I can. And so I will plug in meetings, big goals for the week, family stuff, personal stuff, kid stuff, appointments that I may have. If possible, I will connect with my spouse and say, Hey, do you have anything going on next week that I should know about? Working late? You know, maybe being working from home, any of those things. And that kind of goes into my paper planner or as well. I will say I have like a Monday startup routine that kind of goes hand-in-hand with the Friday shutdown. But since we’re just talking about Friday shutdown today, I’m not trying to get down to the micro level of every single thing I’m gonna do the following week. But what I’m trying to do is tell my brain, it’s okay to take a break for this weekend because I already know I’m gonna be doing these things. And I know when I’m going to be doing them. And if there were things on my list from this week that I didn’t get done, I can move them to next week. And so I’m not kind of thinking about them over the weekend.

Robyn Conley Downs: (11:53)

I was trying to think of an analogy for how this feels to do this shutdown and then to have this space and the freedom over the weekend and know that, you know, things are done, I’ve closed it out. I’ve kind of planned out next week and now I’m walking away. And the best one I could come up with is my friend Serena Wolf, who has been on the podcast before. And she talks about her anxiety from time to time on her Instagram, she’s @SerenaWolf. And she has, when she goes on a trip, she has a little anxiety about her stove being left on. Common. And one of her strategies for handling this anxiety is to take a photo of, of her stove and everything’s off. And so if it comes into her mind, while she’s on vacation, she can look at the photo and know that the stove is off and maybe you don’t have anxiety. So that doesn’t seem relevant to you. And some of you that is very relevant. But for me, the idea, the similarity between taking the photo of the stove being off and the Friday shut down is like I actually close out the tabs. And then I map out the week and then I don’t have to take a picture of my planner, but I know it that I’ve done it. I know things ended. I know what’s coming up and it’s like, frees me to just enjoy my time and not have that sense of I’m not doing what I need to do or this didn’t get done, or I haven’t done this yet.

Robyn Conley Downs: (13:19)

And that is step three, which is my favorite part of the Friday shutdown routine is I close my planner and my laptop and all the tabs. And then I peace out from work. So for me, it’s very, um, like unceremonial, because, like I said, I just leave my office and walk in the other room, but that act of closing the tabs, closing computer, and then closing my planner is that sense of walking out of the building and being done for the day.

Robyn Conley Downs: (13:50)

So that is my Friday shutdown routine. That is one of my solutions for avoiding the Sunday scaries. I’m going to give you those three steps one more time, if you wanna try it for yourself. And then I’m gonna answer some questions that I got over on Instagram from our Real Food, Whole Life community about how to kind of troubleshoot this or other kinds of questions that they had.

Robyn Conley Downs: (14:11)

So step one is doing a sweep of whatever you’re kind of a open or outstanding tasks. So for me, that is doing a sweep of inboxes, slack, blog, comments, Instagram, our communities, um, and our different programs that we have, and then mentally, and literally closing all the tabs. Step two is mapping out your next week. So for me, that looks like over name, my Google, Google calendar, my project management system, and then my paper planner and mapping out big things. So plugging in meetings, big goals for the week, family, personal and kids stuff. And the like, and then step three is closing my planner and my laptop and being done for, for work. And even if you have to say, say a word or a phrase that helps you like signal the end, sometimes I’ll light a candle in the other room to signify the weekend starting. And that really helps I think, with the weekend joy and avoiding the Sunday scaries and hitting the ground running on Monday morning.

Robyn Conley Downs: (15:13)

So now I’m gonna answer a few questions that I got about my Friday shutdown routine. And the first is how do you shut down your brain after work and stop thinking about work? So part of it is just going through that routine and I think part of its practice. So those rituals, those routines that I do help really trigger the end for me. Like I said, sometimes I’ll light a candle or do some other kind of movement, like go on a walk or do some kind of exercise. That’s also super helpful for me to like actually finish and be, be done. But if I start to think about work, I really go back to that mental picture. The stove is off my planner is closed and remind myself. Like we’re still gonna be there on Monday. And me worrying about or thinking about it now is basically just robbing me of the time that I have. If I’m going to think about it, I might as well just go in my office and start working. And since I don’t wanna do that, I remind myself not to take the time away from myself, by worrying about it and just know that that’s something you can get better at. Like it’s a mental habit to be thinking about work. And it’s also one that you can break. So I think having the routine and doing it on a regular basis and then reminding yourself, I closed everything up. It will be there for me when I get there. When I start again on Monday.

Robyn Conley Downs: (16:28)

Next question is, how do you address the items that weren’t complete it that during the week? I will move them over into the following week. We do have a, a project management system that we use because I do run multiple businesses and have so many projects going on at once that I couldn’t keep them all in a planner. And so if I need to go into the project management tool and change dates on things, I will do that on Friday. And if it’s something, a big goal, I’ll just move it to the next week. I find that if I’m moving things from week to week to week, I have to ask myself, is this really an important item that needs to be done? Or is it something that’s like the 80% that’s not moving the needle? So sometimes I just won’t do it. Or if it is a 20% item, a lot of times, if I find that I’m just not getting my work done over and over, I really need to kind of look at overall what I’m prioritizing and that’s a different conversation, but the short answer is if it wasn’t completed, I move it to the next week or try to reprioritize kind of overall what we’re working on so that I can get those things done.

Robyn Conley Downs: (17:37)

The next question is how to shut down. When I feel like I don’t have a weekend #student life, and I relate to this. I was a student for a long, long time. Many, many years I have spent in school and often had to work on the weekends. I think you can still have a Friday shutdown routine, even if you work on the weekends and you kind of just have to decide what your weekend is. I was definitely a believer of if I could, depending on what time of the, the semester, it was like, obviously during finals, this might not happen, but whatever amount of work I had, I didn’t like dripping it across the whole weekend. I liked doing it in, let’s say half a day on Sunday versus a little here and a little there. And so for me, I would probably choose a block of time on the weekend or two blocks of time, how many hours you need and outside of those blocks consider yourself on a weekend. So whether that’s from when you finish up on Friday evening, till noon on Saturday, and then from Saturday evening through Sunday morning, those are your weekends. You could still do the same shutdown around blocks of time.

Robyn Conley Downs: (18:47)

The next question was, do I work on weekends? And the answer is I do not. That’s one of the most fulfilling parts of running my own business. And one of the things I’m most proud of, because I would say it’s kind of counter to the hustle culture that’s preached in the entrepreneurial space. But when I left my job, my full-time job to start this business, I committed to not working on nights and weekends, and I’ve been able to keep that promise to myself and to my family. And it’s wonderful because I used to work on the weekends all the time. Small caveat to that. When I first started my business, I was doing it on the side, in addition to my fulltime job. And when I was working fulltime, I was running the buisness on nights and weekends. So I would say since I’ve gone fulltime with my business, that’s when I started being able to have weekends free and nights free. And like I said, for someone who used to work on nights and weekends for years and years and years, I don’t take it for granted. And I have a lot of gratitude for it.

Robyn Conley Downs: (19:49)

Next question is, how long does the shutdown take? Five to 15 minutes. I can do it pretty quickly cause I’ve been doing it for a while. And if I’m really, really exhausted from the week, I might just do the shutdown and not like the planning of the next week, but I have found that taking that extra time to plan the next week is so beneficial that I really kind to try to prioritize that. So kind of depending on how many outstanding emails there are, or how much I need to rearrange things in our project management system, it might take 15 minutes, but really like in between five to 10, maybe 15. So not a huge amount of time.

Robyn Conley Downs: (20:29)

Next question is, if you think of something work really on the weekend, do you have a system for remembering it? Yes and no. Again, I think because we, I run like a pretty complex business. I have a very involved project management system that is pretty detailed out, but if I do think of something, I would, I have a couple systems. One is I would just pop in my office, open my planner, write it down. Just because I closed it doesn’t mean that it’s like all or nothing. And I really try to avoid that all or nothing mentality about anything in my life. But if I need to come back, I’ll just open it up, write it down and close it up again. Alternatively, I send myself text messages. I don’t know if anyone else does this, but if I’m like out on a walk or doing something fun with my family and I just wanna remember something, I will text myself and then I just open the text and leave it. And that way on Monday, it’ll be waiting for me.

Robyn Conley Downs: (21:27)

So a few more questions remaining, and they’re really more about my Monday startup or how I’m prioritizing and planning my week. And so that’s another episode. If you wanna hear that one, let me know happy to do it. Is there really more about like how to prioritize when you’re busy and everything feels important? Or how do I schedule things when items can just pop up and, and move around on the calendar? So I’m happy to talk about that in another episode.

Robyn Conley Downs: (21:52)

The last one here is, do you make intentions for the weekend during your Friday shut down routine and how do you stick to them? That’s an interesting question. I had not thought about it. So I guess the answer is no, I don’t think I make intentions. My intention for the weekend is always to rest, to do things that fill my cup. So usually that looks like some kind of movement exercise. So doing yoga, doing a long walk, doing a hike and then spending time with my family. Like that’s pretty much what I do every weekend and it’s my favorite way to spend it. So I think my overall intention is self care and connection and time with my family and doing things that make me feel good so that I feel restored for the week ahead. And I don’t know that I set that intention, but that’s kind of my overall M.O. over weekends. So maybe less about intention setting in this case and more about how I wanna feel.

Robyn Conley Downs: (22:49)

I hope this was helpful. If you enjoyed this episode, I’d love to hear about it. You can connect with me @realfoodwholelife on Instagram, and definitely share it with a friend. You can usually text right from the app you’re listening on or email to a friend so that they can listen as well. Um, I, I heard from some of you that you’re doing this together, which I think is super fun. I know this would be great if you’re a teacher and you wanted to do a shutdown routine with a colleague or you’re a nurse or a doctor, there’s a lot of ways this could be kind of in a fun, intentional way to shut down together before you start your weekend.

Robyn Conley Downs: (23:21)

As always, I wanna thank you so much for listening, for giving this time for yourself and being a part of this Feel Good movement. Until next time, here’s to feeling good.

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