End each day with reflection

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How you end the day determines how well you start the next.

“Tomorrow is another day” Scarlett O’Hara famously said in Gone with the Wind, committing to make tomorrow different in order to save her family farm. The same attitude of each day being better, or more productive, should apply to our work. However too many managers fall into either surviving days or just getting by. In the first “firefighter” scenario, the manager pinballs between “emergencies” and in the latter the apathetic leader fails to implement the discipline habits needed to improve. In both scenarios time is not made for reflection and analysis and each day starts as it had an ended, pin-balling or with apathy, but what great leaders should be doing is ending the day with quadrant II reflection.

End each day should end reflecting on how things have gone.

Reflecting and analyzing begins with valuing its importance and purpose and then is implanted via time-tabling it in and committing to making it a success habit.  The first thing to do is to consider the difference it will make to your work as when you understand the “why factor” you will commit more to doing it. For most managers it offers thinking time over doing. This thinking time should be used to not only assess how things have gone but to think about how they could have gone better which together will make it possible to commit to making tomorrow better. Great managers will ask themselves variations of the following questions below. Of course key work targets or projects should be analysed within this:

  1. How did today go? Well, ok, badly.
  2. Why was this the case? What factors made the day turn out the way it did? Procedures, Staff Performance, Man-Management, Communication, Clients, Unexpected events, Poor planning etc….
  3. Could it have gone better, if so how come? What could be done to make tomorrow better? One to one staff chat, Amending procedures, Better Planning, Staff Meeting, Forming a separate team for unexpected events, more active supervision, more autonomy etc…
  4. What was your personal management failure and/or success of the day? Communicated poorly/well, planned poorly/well, prepared your staff poorly/well, faced up to conflict poorly/well etc…
  5. What do you and your team need to commit to doing better tomorrow? Try to narrow down to one main theme for the day and link your and team’s role in achieving this.

The time allocated to it can be anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour as it can be both simplified and built up to cover more but what matters most of all is that you stop, think and commit. Regardless of how busy you have been you can always make the time to spend a few minutes doing a simplified version of the above. It is a key part of leadership success to end your day reflecting on what you can do to break bad routines, to put a project back on track or to nip an issue in the bud as without that success will slip out of your hands. End each and every day with reflection and give yourself the chance for tomorrow to be another day.

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