It’s not the years in your life that counts. It’s the life in your years. – Abraham Lincoln
A quietly underrated aspect of the daily questions is making sure you remind yourself to record your questions. In the early going as you’re trying to build up the habit, having a reliable reminder is essential. In fact, Marshall Goldsmith (who writes about the Daily Questions in his book Triggers) pays someone to call him at the end of everyday to ask him his daily questions.
If you can’t afford to pay someone to call you everyday, you can use a free automation service like IFTTT to schedule a daily reminder email. In the reminder email, I plug-in the link to the tracking spreadsheet (see the reflection section) so I can easily access it when I need to record my score.
In whatever way you remind yourself, the important part is that it’s automatic. Whether it’s an alarm on your phone or a friend who calls you, make sure it’s on your radar at the end of the day without taking up much effort.
Speaking of the “end of the day”, I’ve set my automatic reminders for 5:00 p.m. I’ve found that the timing is good as I’m typically wrapping up my workday between 5 to 6 p.m. Your timing could be later like after dinner or right before you go to bed. Find what time works the best for you to receive the reminder.
I record my scores on a Google Sheet. I prefer the spreadsheet because it’s cloudbased and accessible wherever I can get the internet. Google Sheets also have the same functionality as an Excel file so if I wanted to slice-and-dice the data, it’s pretty easy to do. In fact, I’ve plugged in a chart that helps me visualize my daily scores.
I’ve created a sample spreadsheet for you to use. Feel free to go in and make a copy for yourself by going to File -> Make a Copy. You’ll notice that I’ve added a few scores already just so you can see it in action. Delete those scores when you’re ready to start recording.
When I’m recording my scores, I have a couple of simple rules for myself:
- Trust my initial gut-instinct for the score.
- Stick to whole numbers. Decimal places are not allowed. (This makes it harder to “sit on the fence” with a score).
Finally, my recommendation is to record at least 21 days of consecutive scores. It’ll be a helpful baseline to start seeing some trends with your scores.
Once you’ve recorded the score of the day, now comes perhaps the most important part – reflection.
I use a service called TalkSpace which provides unlimited text/voice messaging with a licensed therapist. On days that I have something I want to talk through, I open up the TalkSpace app or webpage and leave a message for my therapist. The therapist responds within 24 hours with her thoughts and perspective. I’ve been using TalkSpace since May 2015 and it has been an indispensible part of my personal growth toolkit.
Whether you use a service like TalkSpace or not is up to you. You may prefer writing a quick comment in the Google Spreadsheet or journaling about it or calling a friend to talk through your day. The important part is to pull your thoughts outside your mind. You’d be surprised how much clarity you get from verbalizing or writing your thoughts down.
If you stop just with recording and reflection over a period of 21 days, you’re still going to get a lot out of it. But if you’re like most people, you’ll want to take action on the information that comes out of your daily questions.
There isn’t a cookie-cutter method for you to take action on these questions. You might prefer to collect data for 90 consecutive days before making some course adjustments or you may want to take action on a daily basis. There is no “right” answer.
That said, for me, I generally like to work on improving my score on one question over the course of a month. For example, if I’ve noticed that “Did I do my best to set clear goals?” is consistently a low score for me, I’ll focus on improving that score over the course of a month.
To remind myself of the question I’m working on, I use a Google Chrome plug-in called Momentum that gives you space to set one goal everyday.
Every time you open up a new tab, you’ll see the Momentum dashboard and remind yourself what the one goal was for you (along with a beautiful photo that changes everyday). It’s a nice way to keep the question top-of-mind throughout the day.
Every morning, before I get started with my work, I open up my spreadsheet and review yesterday’s scores. I plug in the question I’m working on – currently it’s “Do my best to set clear goals” – and go about setting my goals for the day.
And that’s it! Rinse-and-repeat this process everyday. The next step which I’m currently developing a process for is a quarterly review of my scores. Stay tuned to the blog for more thoughts on that.
In the meantime, what are your thoughts with this process? Do you think it’ll work for you? Is there anything missing that you’d add?