By Constantin Pescaru
How you end your day is just as important as how you start it. So you better do it right! Easier said than done, I know. But there is a STOP button that helps you put the working day in the back of your mind. This method is called debriefing. Basically, it is a structured process following an exercise or event that reviews the actions you take.
I had the opportunity to speak about this matter with Andrew Mellen, known as “the most organized man in America“ and the author of the book “Unstuff Your Life!“ He told me that he always debriefs himself at the end of the day and runs a quick inventory of the things he had done and the things that he did not succeed to do.
He asks himself questions such as:
- Have I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish?
- How well did I do?
- What could I have done better?
- What do I get, as a result of this?
- Where should I give myself more credit?
I was curious to see what it feels like when you debrief yourself. And Andrew told me that he gets the satisfaction that the day is complete. “It allows me to be finished with the day instead of getting into bed with my mind racing about mistakes or reliving successes or failures, which then prevents me from getting a good night sleep. It puts the data to bed for me so I can put myself to bed“.
Actually, debriefing works like a buffer. It creates a space between the workday and the rest of the day. No one likes to be working all the time. But in this disruptive, active and rapidly transforming society we live in today we struggle to free our minds from our tasks. We take work home with us, mentally, and sometimes, even physically.
This is why 4 out of 5 Romanians think about work on their holiday, according to a recent study. So how should you debrief yourself in order to free your mind from work stuff? It takes pen and a paper. Andrew realized that he needs to create an artificial barrier between him and work, otherwise he will always be H working.
So, to create a boundary for myself, the end of the day inventory just draws a line for myself and says that, unless something unexpected comes up, I have accomplished enough that now I can be finished for the day. It’s a great tip and very easy to do.“
But there is a catch: when you debrief yourself, you should actually write things down! The physical act of writing is connected to our brain.
When you write, something shifts: „I think there is something mechanical about the act of writing the list and doing the inventory that creates the mechanical interruption. If you are just walking and thinking to yourself, it might be harder to stop thinking. It’s not that clear. And I think the clearness of it, the delineation of it is part of what creates the buffer“.
So, at the end of each workday, debrief yourself and write down an overview of the day. It is also a good way to prepare for the following day, because you will already have a clear picture of how your day should look like.
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