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Getting Rid of Yesterday: How to Start Your Day Fresh

Getting Rid of Yesterday: How to Start Your Day Fresh
New Day

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sometimes we start a day with the previous day still in mind. We think about the mistakes we made in the previous day, how things went wrong, and how we felt bad about it. No wonder it becomes difficult to focus on the current day. And since we cannot fully focus on the day, our performance may drop and things may once again go wrong. This pattern could repeat again and again, where the burden from the previous day is taken to the current day and make it bad, which will then be a burden for the following day. The chain may be hard to break and your overall performance may drop, not to mention the difficulty to have a peaceful mind.

So it’s important leave the past day behind. Always start your new day fresh, without thinking about yesterday. This way you will be able to fully concentrate, do your best, and improve your performance.

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Here are some steps on how to do that:

1. Take time to evaluate your day

At the end of a day, take some time to think about it. You should do it at the same day and not wait until the next day. You should finish dealing with your day before the next morning comes.

The purpose of this thinking time is not to regret how bad your day was, how things went wrong, or how people treated you negatively. This won’t do you any good to improve your life. Instead, the purpose of this thinking time is to extract lessons which you can bring to the following day.

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2. Ask the right questions to extract lessons

To extract the lessons, you should ask the right questions. There are basically two questions you should ask:

  • What have you done well?
    There should be some things you have done well. What are they and how did you do them? What can you do to make sure that you can continue doing them well or even better?
  • What have you done wrong?
    Usually there are also some things that do not go as expected. What are they and how could they happen? What can you do to improve yourself and avoid the same mistakes in the future?

3. Make a commitment to apply the lessons

After you extract the lessons, you should make a commitment to apply them. To do so, find some actionable things you can do to apply the lessons. Next, remind yourself to do them. You may write them down if you want to.

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4. “Close” your day

After you have spent the time to think about the day and extract the lessons, make a decision to “close” the day. Think of it as closing the door to the past day. You are done with it; don’t think about it anymore. You should close the door to the past day so that you can start your new day fresh.

Here are some things you should realize to make it easier to “close” a day:

  • The day has passed; there’s nothing you can do about it. You can’t change the past no matter how hard you try.
  • Instead of thinking about something you can’t change, focus instead on the things you can change, and that is the present.

Having the mindset to focus on what you can change will make it easier to “close” your day.

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5. Bring only the lessons to the next day and nothing else

After you “close” a day, you should not bring anything out of it to the next day except for the lessons you extract. These lessons deal with things you can do something about. They deal with the present, not the past. Instead of thinking about the past, focus on applying the lessons to the present. This way you will be able to start your day fresh without the burden of yesterday.

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Last Updated on March 31, 2020

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

Why We Procrastinate After All?

We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

Is Procrastination Bad?

Yes it is.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

How Bad Procrastination Can Be

Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article: 8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

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Procrastination, a Technical Failure

Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

Learn more about how to fix your procrastination problem here: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

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