How to “bookend” your day

Just finished rereading Dan Pink’s new book When! It’s so darn good! Probably the second only book I wouldn’t mind rereading in the years to come… the first one was The Power of Full Engagement. (Tony Schwartz’s book “The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working” is a great read too!)

Here’s an excerpt worth reading (and rereading, of course! The bullets are mine for emphasis and ease of reading):

“When the workday ends, many of us want to tear away—to pick up children, race home to prepare dinner, or just beeline to the nearest bar. But the science of endings suggests that instead of fleeing we’re better off reserving the final five minutes of work for a few small deliberate actions that bring the day to a fulfilling close.

  • Begin by taking two or three minutes to write down what you accomplished since the morning. Making progress is the single largest day-to-day motivator on the job. But without tracking our ‘dones,’ we often don’t know whether we’re progressing.
  • Ending the day by recording what you’ve achieved can encode the entire day more positively. (Testimonial: I’ve been doing this for four years and I swear by the practice. On good days, the exercise delivers feelings of completion; on bad days, it often shows me I got more done than I suspected.)
  • Now use the other two or three minutes to lay out your plan for the following day. This will help close the door on today and energize you for tomorrow.
  • Bonus: If you’ve got an extra minute left, send someone—anyone—a thank-you email. I mentioned in chapter 2 that gratitude is a powerful reserve. It’s an equally powerful elevation.”

— Dan Pink, When

I’ve been following a (near) similar practice for the past few months myself and it has had quite an impact on my stress levels. And wouldn’t after getting a sense of success or perspective (if it wasn’t a great day) on how it all went?

And yes, planning ahead is a must. At least for me. I can’t seem to function without it! Nailing down the most important tasks I’ll be tackling tomorrow gives me a sense of control and clam. Of course, hell may break loose tomorrow but I’ll sleep peacefully tonight. For me, that’s big.

Gratitude practice takes a lot of courage. It’s not easy. It surely sounds (and feels) corny but instead of sending someone/anyone a thank you email/message, I just wish the last person I’ll be texting/messaging/email/talking to a genuine “Thanks for calling, I deeply appreciate it (or whatever is appropriate, context-wise). Goodnight and rest well” message.

It feels great! May not be copybook but who cares. To each his own. But after spending years exploring and discovering strategies for becoming energy efficient or productive, bookending a day feels like a natural thing to do. Food for thought, perhaps.

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