When I find myself in an anxious, depressed, or difficult time of life, I pull out these questions every day and answer them. Something about the process steers me back to center.
What are three moments that you remember from the day?
They can be big events or tiny moments. Which stick out? Pick three moments that you can actually remember being present it.
What was your focus/preoccupation?
Sometimes we are doing one thing but thinking of another. Where was your head most of the day?
What worked in your favor?
What one thing did you do or use today that made today better? Could be anything from alarm clock to a meditation technique.
What did not work in your favor?
What impeded you from having a better day? Can internal or external.
What wasted your time and gave little value?
Too much Facebook? Too much worrying? Too much food? Did you spend an hour looking for something that you didn’t really need?
What goal did you work toward and how?
Be aware of your goals and make sure to work toward at least on of them every day.
Kaizen: What could be improved in small way?
The Japanese have a business philosophy called Kaizen. Kaizen is about continuous improvement of working practices and personal efficiency. Look for a sticking point or snag from your day. How can it be improved? Did you have trouble finding a file? How can you put files in more logical places going forward? Did you say something that created an argument? How can you avoid speaking before thinking in the future?
What are three things that you learned today?
We are continually learning. It’s important to acknowledge those lessons and writing them down help to solidify them into memory. Maybe you learned how to code if/then using Swift. Maybe you learned that McDonald’s serves breakfast all day now. Maybe you learned that your partner hates raw onions.
Any big ideas?
Did you have any big ideas today? They don’t have to be things you planning on doing or using, but what were they? Did you imagine biodegradable aluminum? Did you think of an idea for a movie that you wish someone would make? Did you think of a better way to arrange your office?
What did you eat?
Diet is really important for healthy physical and mental health, and the first step is just being aware of what you’ve actually eaten. Far too often we eat without even realizing we are eating. Can you, sitting in front of this page now, remember what you ate today? We aren’t counting calories or judging ourselves here; we’re just trying to remember.
Did you drink enough water today?Y/N
Did you exercise?Y/N
Did you read? Y/N
Did you meditate? Y/N
What did you do for others?
What did you do for someone other than yourself? If nothing, what prevented you? Most (if not all) dark mental states come from an abundance of focus upon ourselves, our needs, our problems, and our dramas. Try to make room for one act everyday that has nothing to do with you.
What three things from today are you grateful for?
Look for things that happen to today. A roof on a rainy day? Your spouse making dinner? the comfort of your shoes? The old man who smiled at you in the coffee line? Big or small, all matter.Write each beginning with the words “I am grateful for…” and try not to repeat any from previous days. Parents are always grateful for their kids, so rather than repeating, dig deeper and get specific. I’m grateful that my daughter likes to read. I’m grateful that my son is kind to animals. I’m grateful for their laughter.
What could make tomorrow great?
This is the one to really have fun with. Dream big impossible dream if you want. Tomorrow would be great if Brad Pitt bought me lunch and told me he was a big fan. Tomorrow would be great if my stocks doubled. Tomorrow would be great if my puppy peed outside.
Check your inboxes and communications?
Don’t let things actions and promises hang. Look at your email, text messages, voice messages, Facebook, etc from the day. Is there anything that you need to do or remember? This is less about productivity than it is about maintaining healthy relationships. Did you promise your mom that you would pick her up at the airport? Did you say you’d meet someone for coffee? Did your colleague ask you for a favor? Grab that stuff and put it somewhere (your calendar, your todo list). Don’t leave these things hanging. They weigh on your mind and empty promises ruin friendships. Value others enough to keep you word.
What do I need for tomorrow?
This is pretty simple. Have idea of what is going on tomorrow and ask yourself if there is anything you need to get those things done? Need to borrow a car at 5am, get the keys now. Need to be somewhere exactly on time, set an alarm. Spend less of your day making up for things you didn’t plan for properly and more time being presents in the moment.