I do a 'closing shift' every night and it prevents me from getting overwhelmed in the morning

My veteran dad instilled a closing shift routine in me as a child, and now I wouldn't go to bed without completing it

Piglet in Bed Cafe au Lait linen beddin on a bed with a large table lamp beside
(Image credit: Piglet in Bed)

No matter how good your storage and organization are, any home that is lived in will become disheveled by the end of the day and need a little tidying up – which is where my night-time 'closing shift' comes in.

This nightly routine, which I learned from my veteran dad, helps me reset my home, establish order with home organization, and make sure it is safe and secure every night before I go to bed. 

The result? A house that doesn't instantly make me overwhelmed when I get up in the morning – and I think you should give it a go too.

My night time closing shift routine 

The concept of a home ‘closing shift’ is nothing new, in fact, it has recently exploded on social media with other people swearing by the nightly routine as a way to stay on top of household chores.

My favorite tip to make this a more relaxing experience is to turn the lights down lower for a cozier feel and pop my headphones in with some music or an audiobook. Not only does this make the chores go by quicker, but helps me start to unwind before bed with time away from a screen.

Headphones in place, I begin the closing shift.

Philips Hue White Ambiance Bulb | Was $44.99, Now $35.26 at Amazon

Philips Hue White Ambiance Bulb | Was $44.99, Now $35.26 at Amazon
I love the Hue bulb's ability to go from bright white light for tasks to soft cozy glows for my closing shift. It really helps me to wind down before bed.

1. Ensure all the doors and windows are closed

My dad was in the military for over 25 years, and one of the main things that stuck with me from my childhood was how important our home security was. Now I have moved out, ensuring all the doors and windows are closed and locked and my curtains are pulled shut is a must at the start of my night time routine.

Not only does it make me feel safer, especially as I am securing my home without a security system, but it makes me feel cozier knowing that the outside world is shut away.

2. Finish any washing up

Another thing my dad did every night no matter what time it was was finish any washing up left in the sink from dinner. We don't have a dishwasher, so everything is done by hand (this is where the audiobook makes the time pass a little quicker). 

Washing the dishes not only means the kitchen is clear and ready for me to make breakfast the next day, but it banishes bad kitchen smells too so my home smells fresh when I wake up – there is a reason why it is one of the things people with nice-smelling kitchens always do, after all.

3. Clean down kitchen counters

With the washing up out of the way and drying on the rack, I finish in the kitchen with a quick wipe down of the kitchen counters. Now that the stove has cooled from cooking dinner, I give that a clean down too, using my favorite Method all-purpose cleaner, available at Target

There are a few things I do daily to keep kitchen counters clear, such as putting things away as I cook, but I take this time to make sure everything is back in its place, leftovers are stored properly for lunch the next day, and the electric kettle has some water in it ready for first thing in the morning.

4. Put away lingering laundry

This is an occasional addition to my closing shift and depends on whether or not I have a full clothes airer taking up space in my living room.

When I have been doing laundry, I will collect up the dry clothing, file folding it as I go, fold away the airer, and empty my dehumidifier to clear space in my living room for the next day.

This is a major step in preventing me from being overwhelmed in the morning – I hate the look of drying clothes as it visually clutters my space. Ensuring that the clothes are at least folded away in my laundry basket and put out of sight by my closet makes coming down for breakfast that little bit more soothing. 

Even if I don't put the clothes away right away, at least the task is started. 

Foldable bamboo hamper | $25.99 at Wayfair

Foldable bamboo hamper | $25.99 at Wayfair
I use these sleek laundry baskets to help declutter my home and sort my laundry. Their foldable design means they are easy to hide out of sight when not in use, too. 

5. Clear off the coffee table

My partner and I love to snack and play games, which means the coffee table is usually covered in biscuit packets and controllers that need charging. Before heading up to bed, we will make sure trash is in the bin, food is stored properly, and controllers are moved from side tables into their docks to keep clear surfaces for the morning.

Visual clutter is one of the main causes of feeling overwhelmed when cleaning, so starting off the day with this blank slate can set the day up to be a more positive one.

6. Straighten up soft furnishings

The last thing I do before turning off the lights is straighten up any soft furnishings like the sofa and armchairs.

This usually involves plumping pillows to fall back on in the morning when I am still half asleep and waking up for work, and throwing blankets back in my large storage basket. I like the basket approach as it means I don't have to fold anything else and it makes my house look cozy with the lived-in, slubby vibe.

I use a basket I ‘stole’ from my parent's attic, but you can find similar baskets at McGee & Co.


How do you manage household chores when you have a job?

When you have a full-time job, you can often tackle household chores by doing little and often and splitting the responsibility with your partner or housemates. By practicing positive habits such as tidying up as you use things, doing a closing or opening shift, and doing little 20-minute bursts often throughout the week, you can stay on top of your tasks without feeling overwhelmed and losing all of your free time.

Why do chores give me anxiety?

Chores can sometimes cause you anxiety if you are unsure of where to start, find that things have built up too much, and fear it might take you ages to complete, or you are not sure how to approach completing them. To help remedy this, it can be a good idea to create a schedule with a list of the specific tasks you want to get done, a time limit to give yourself so you are not working for too long and tiring yourself out, and creating a master list of the best ways to approach tasks with cleaning tips and tricks to make the process smoother. Doing this little and often will slowly help you to establish order.

It also doesn't hurt to treat yourself after completing tasks or listening to a movie, audiobook, or music in the background to help keep your mind busy. 

Once all my nightly chores are complete, it is then time for a little self-care and bed. If a nighttime routine sounds like it would be too exhausting for you at the end of every day you can also swap it out for a morning shift, allowing you to tackle the major chores from the night before you start work or your plans for the day. Starting the day by completing tasks can give you a mood boost, and set you up for a positive day ahead – it all depends on if you're an early bird or a night owl.

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.