A Question That Will Change Your Day, Everyday.

What if problems like writers block and procrastination were less about your  shortcomings and more about how you structure your work day?

“My day seems foggy until I fill out this form. I’m still amazed at how much it clears my thinking.”

What if problems like writers block and procrastination were less about your shortcomings and more about how you structure your work day?

Over the past few months I have begun practicing a new habit, and it has made a world of difference. I procrastinate less, am more creative, use my time more wisely, and come away from the day feeling far more satisfied.

Everyday, as soon as I arrive at my desk or open my laptop to begin work, I start by filling in a short and simple form. The form, called the “Storyline Productivity Schedule”, was designed by Donald Miller and others and is available here for free. It asks a number a straight-forward questions, and forces you to prioritise key projects for that day. However, there is one question on the form that, for me, is the game-changer.  Here it is:

“If I could live today over again I’d…”

While it may seem like an innocuous  question, the idea behind it  was first proposed by Dr. Viktor Frankl, a Vienese psychologist who worked with depressed and suicidal patients. Asking them to consider “what they’d do differently the first time around” was a mental trick that allowed them to assess what was really important and learn from their past mistakes even before they made them.

This is the secret-sauce! I’ve found that asking myself this simple but profound question keeps me from getting caught up in trivial problems and allows me to focus more on what really matters. Most people wake up worried about all the stuff they have to get done, but if you think about what you’d do differently – if you pretend you’re living today over again – you’ll find yourself realising most of the stuff you worry about isn’t worth it, and instead add more relational elements into your life.

Asking yourself what you’d do differently if you were living today over again is one of the keys to living a more meaningful life and assessing priorities. I really am amazed at how well it works. Go on, give it a try.

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3 Comments on “A Question That Will Change Your Day, Everyday.

  1. Hi Tom, I love this idea, but wonder if you could clarify something (its probably me….) When you answer the ‘what you’d do differently today’ question each morning are you actually reviewing the day before? (‘cos I’m thinking you can’t review what you haven’t done yet, right?)

    • Hey Lyn. Thanks for reading. The answer is NO – you are “imagining” yourself answering this question at the end of the day ahead. It’s a mental trick that gets you thinking ahead and learning not to make the mistakes you are most likely to… For example: i would write something like: If i could do today over again i’d… not procrastinate first thing in the morning and get straight to my most important task… just writing this down BEFORE i start my morning makes me much less likely to procrastinate! It’s an amazingly effective mental trick.

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