What is a “closing shift” at home and how to use yours to have a better day

This one is about creating a closing shift at home, and I hope you enjoy it.

Most of us probably think of the term “closing shift” as the last round of workers at a retail store or a restaurant finishing out the day’s business operations and locking up the building, right? Well, that’s correct. But a “closing shift” can also be a worthwhile activity you can incorporate into your own life at home to get organized and mentally prepared for the next day. That’s what we’re talking about in this one.

I can tell you that if you have a “closing shift” in place at home, your mornings/days will start off much better. That’s because what you do the night before to prepare for a good day really helps you begin the next day in a better headspace. And a better headspace makes for a better everything.

The idea of a home-based “closing shift” started getting popular on social media late last year, and I only recently stumbled upon the term. (Apparently it was first seen on TikTok, but I’m not on there, so I don’t have all the details.) While the term may be newer, the actual acts of doing a few things to end your day and checking off those boxes — in order to prepare for the next day — is nothing new. I’ve done that for a long time, and I bet you’ve done that too. 

But now that we have an actual name for these evening to-dos and can put them in the closing-shift line-up, it gives us a chance to commit to them more officially. And these nightly acts can keep you from getting overwhelmed in many areas of your life, by always staying a little bit ahead of the game.

Now, let’s talk about how to do your own “closing shift” at home and what that may look like …

What is a “closing shift” at home and how to use yours to have a better day

What is a closing shift at home and how to use yours to have a better day by A Lady Goes West

Your closing shift has to work for you.

In fact, you can be really specific and write down a list of your closing-shift to-dos on a piece of paper, laminate that list and put it somewhere you can see it. Or you can simply mentally select the tasks you’d like to include on your closing-shift list, possibly make a note of those in your phone and remember to hit each item every night. Do whatever feels right in your life.

Here are some ideas of what to include …

Clean off the kitchen counter and wash the dishes.

Clean kitchen = cleaner life.

Sometimes on weekends, when we go to bed a little later than usual and are watching a movie and have eaten at home, I leave the dishes in the sink. When I wake up the next day, I always regret that decision. I literally never do that on weekdays, and I really shouldn’t do it on weekends either. Why? Because waking up to a clean kitchen is a much better way to wake up. Who wants to wash dishes first thing?

That’s why, I think, each night, we should all wash the dishes, put them on a drying rack or in the dishwasher and clean off the kitchen counter. It feels great to wake up to a clear space so you can begin the morning with whatever you need to accomplish in the kitchen. For me, that’s making Brady’s lunch, getting our breakfasts ready, making my protein shake for later, etc..

Closing shift list of to-dos by A Lady Goes West

These days, during the week, I take this a step further, and as part of my “closing shift” in the kitchen, I put fresh water in Rudy’s bowl, I pull out Brady’s lunch-box and drop a snack bar in there, and I even put our mugs by the coffee pot. These little things are additional steps that set me/us up for an easier morning, and it feels so good to have it done.

By the way, if you get into the habit of wiping down your kitchen every night, you’ll be less likely to let bigger messes happen in there throughout the day.

For me, the kitchen is the first thing you see in our house when we get home through the garage, so I like it to be white and shiny and ready to greet me. This one is a closing-shift must.

Clean kitchen by A Lady Goes West

Set out your workout clothes for the next day and have a plan for your next workout.

I always know the night before what my exact workout will look like the next day. Much of the time, that’s because I’ll be teaching group fitness classes that I’ve already pre-programmed, but many days, it also means I just know my plan. I always put my workout clothes out the night before, from the sports bra, to the socks, to the scrunchie. Overkill? Maybe. But it sets me up, so I have one less decision to make in the morning, you know?

The worst feeling is when you wake up knowing you want to exercise, but you don’t know what to do. Yes, at times, if you slept poorly or have a nagging pain, you have to pivot your plan and do something different. But most days, you should already know what you plan to do for movement (even if that’s a rest day) and follow that plan.

Most Saturdays, I do my solo fitness-floor workout (almost always with a friend, but it’s solo in that I’m not teaching/taking a class), and I already have an idea of most of the moves and repetitions I plan to do that day, before I even wake up on Saturday. Then, once it’s time for that workout, I get ready, I put on the clothes I had set out the night before, I roll out the door and make it happen. All these pre-made decisions — which are done as part of my nightly closing shift — make getting to the gym and doing the work much easier.

If you’re someone who likes to attend classes, hopefully you’ve already got your class reservation booked the day before that class takes place. And if not, booking a class is another great way to ensure that you get in a sweat session too. If you follow digital classes at home, make sure you know which one you’re going to do the day before, so you don’t have to be scrolling the library of classes right before your workout — that’s not ideal.

By the way, if you’re still struggling with how to structure your week of workouts, check out this post

Review your calendar for the next day with yourself and, if applicable, your partner/family.

Most nights, when we’re eating dinner, I tell Dave what’s on my schedule the next day and ask him about his schedule for the next day too. It seems like we each take turns having nights that one of us won’t be home (it’s usually work for Dave or a tennis match for me), so we have to make sure one of us is on the Brady dinner/night-time routine, or we ask my mom to jump in, if she’s free. We do this the night before, so we head into the next day knowing what each of us needs from each other, and I find that very helpful.

What is a closing shift by A Lady Goes West

As part of my closing shift, I also take time to write out all the things I need to do the next day in my hand-written planner, and I always review it the night before. It’s important to pick out the top things you need to accomplish and try and get those done first each day, so I highlight those in my brain.

Because the closing shift is all about getting ahead, taking a moment to know what you really need to get done the next day — in your work life and in your home life — is a big part of it.

Pack your work bag, gym bag or any school bags. And collect everything you’ll need to take out the door with you the next day.

Every single night, as part of my closing shift, I pack my gym bag, Brady’s school bag and whatever else I’ll need, and I put all those bags in the laundry room on the counter (which is our drop zone between the garage and the kitchen). I literally cannot go to sleep without doing this task.

Why? Because it’s really helpful to find all of the items you’ll need the next day the night before, and get them all collected. That way, you’ll know the clothes you need are clean, the supplies you need are present and so on. I’ve always liked to pre-pack my bags for activities, and it definitely makes it easier to get out the door the next day.

Closing shift list by A Lady Goes West

We have something called the “morning rush,” which you probably have in your life too. And every minute counts, so getting my bag and Brady’s bag ready before those quick morning moments come is super helpful. Because it seems like we have to fly out the door about a second after my alarm goes off. (Which is far from true, but geez, the morning flies.)

Turn your phone on silent/dark mode, and turn off the TV and technology.

Even though the closing shift is mostly about looking forward to the next day, it’s also about being present in the evening too.

I have my phone automatically set to go on silent/night mode at 8 p.m., so there’s less harmful light coming from it. And I also try to turn off my computer and turn off the TV no later than 10 p.m. This gives me time to hop in bed and read a book before falling asleep. This wind-down time sets me up to sleep well, so I start the next day more rested. And of course, before all of this, I shower and get in my pajamas.

Closing shift by A Lady Goes West

Years ago, I would put my phone on airplane mode every single night at 8 p.m., but I don’t do that any longer, in case my mom needs to reach me. I’ve seen a new trend of people saying you should turn off your WiFi in your house at night too, but because so much of our life is connected to it (lights, doorbell, music, heating/cooling), we keep it on. Nonetheless, it’s best not to be visually connected to technology up until the second you close your eyes. Give your mind and body a little space … reading a real-life book is a great option for that in-between time. 

The wind-down routine that helps you get to sleep definitely falls into the closing-shift bucket.  Typically this is the last thing to check-off your closing shift list.

Here are a few other items to consider adding to your closing shift …

  • Complete your evening skincare routine, whatever that may be for you. For me, it’s washing my face, applying my serums and moisturizers and sometimes even doing a good ice-rolling session.
  • Respond to any important text messages that came in through the day that you may not have gotten to.
  • Set your alarm for the next day. And make sure your wake-up and sleep times are pretty consistent each day to support a healthy routine.
  • Wash out your water cup and fill it all the way up, so you have fresh water to chug upon waking (always sipping on water before you drink any caffeine, of course).
  • Charge your devices, like your laptop, phone and Apple watch, so they are ready to go.
  • Pull out any loads of laundry that you may need to do the next day and get it into the washer (ready to hit “start” once the time is right).
  • Pick out the school or work outfits for anyone in your family that needs a little help and lay them out.
  • Put away any clutter, toys or junk that made its way out and about in your home, so it doesn’t start to compound the next day.
  • Make a grocery shopping list or pre-plan the meals you’ll be making/buying the next day.
  • Take a moment to reflect on your day, be thankful for your health, your life and all the little moments that brought you joy. Because you don’t have to get everything done perfectly to be happy, healthy and thriving. 🙂 

Closing shift by A Lady Goes West-2

Thanks for reading this post about the closing shift. While each of our lists will look a little different depending on our individual needs, I hope you see that having a better day starts the night before. Now, head on off and make the list of your non-negotiable closing-shift check-list, and good luck! 

Other posts you may like

Questions of the day for you

What’s part of your closing shift?

What’s one thing you know you should add to your closing shift?

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  1. When I first read the title of your blog it reminded me of when I used to say “kitchen is closed” to our boys when they were really little and wanted more snacks. Someone was over one day and said it’s totally obvious you worked at a restaurant lol. I do many of the things you do and even the little to dos make me feel much more rested/happy in the morning. I try to make my mornings/after school activities go as smoothly as possible since sometimes we are rushing out the door. Snacks/water bottles, book bags ready (sometimes already in the car), couch pillows/blankets fixed before going to bed and kitchen counters clean.

    1. Hi Joanna! I love that you have a good closing shift routine at home — and I also love that you sometimes put the book bags in the car — nice touch. I try to re-fluff the couch and fold the couch blankets each night too. Hope all is well in your (likely very organized) world, friend! 🙂 xoxo

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