Genius Tips: The Daily Review
A daily review is a simple way to gain insight. It might be the most valuable 5 minutes of our day.
Let’s start with an analogy. What do professional sports teams do to improve? They look at the film — and so can we. By reviewing images from the events of our day, we gain insight, improve our memory, and increase our understanding of ourselves.
Set aside 5 minutes at the end of your day. Review the day in images — see your meetings and personal interactions, decisions you made, and how you spent your time. These images are already in your memory because memory works visually. Just hit rewind and let it happen.
View the experiences objectively (as if you were a third party). Notice your own actions, responses, and posture in each situation. What stands out? Where was there room for improvement? Keep going backward until you see yourself wake up.
The daily review is a way of saying that today matters. It matters what you did well, and where you could improve. It matters what you can learn from today — and apply to tomorrow.
It helps us to accomplish the following:
- Gain insight. In the heat of the moment, we miss things. Our attention is distracted as we are busy managing our responses and behavior. Reviewing events from a distance, we see details (and make connections) we missed the first time.
- Learn about ourselves. In review, we notice our strengths and weaknesses. Could I have taken a different tone with someone? Should I have been more clear? Was I effective with my time? If we’re happy with how we handled a situation, we can repeat it. If we’re not, we can do better tomorrow.
- Develop Relationships. A review highlights our interactions with coworkers, friends, and family. If we left an interaction incomplete, we can speak with, update, or ask a question of the other person. Our relationships are vital, and insights on improving them are often easy to act upon.
- Enhance long-term memory. Most of our daily experiences are forgotten forever. A review encodes them into long-term memory. This preserves details and interactions that are otherwise lost. As part of long-term memory, these events are available for later recall.
Without a daily review, we risk losing dozens of daily memories and repeating the same mistakes day after day.
A review also helps us see the big picture — clarifying outcomes of decisions and meetings. Details on strategic next steps become more clear. Making daily micro-adjustments reduces the need for larger course-corrections in future.
Tips for Success
- Don’t think, just view the images.
- Try to remain a detached observer.
- Do it backward. This breaks our mental patterns.
- Ask yourself questions: What was needed of me? What more could I have done?
- Keep it low pressure. If your mind wanders, just return to the review.
- If reviewing before sleep is too stimulating, pick an earlier time. Perhaps the end of the work day.
- Start with 5 minutes and increase if necessary.
- Take notes of your insights during the review.
- Make it a daily habit.
Try viewing events from another person’s perspective. What can you learn about them? Periodically make a review of your week, month, year, or (gasp) life. Finally, try seeing the images in greater and greater detail — your surroundings and how people looked. This builds visual intelligence and imagination.
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All posts are the opinion of the author. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute or the author’s employer.
Image credit: Cornelius Danger and John Caserta from the Noun Project