It's amazing how many people work all hours of the day. And I mean all hours.
We jump out of bed in the morning and check email. At night, we're still responding to social media comments. Yet, there's something special about that hour hand clicking over to 5 p.m. (even if your clock doesn't have an hour hand). It signifies something. It's supposed to be the close of your business day. It denotes some finality.
For me, my day ends officially at 5 p.m. because that's when people get a little harder to reach and a little harder to engage. There's a reason 5 p.m. has come to signify the time when everyone at work heads to the bar, even if they slog their way back to the office after having a few cold ones. And there's a reason 5 p.m. is considered a good time to end the day, because it's when we start getting hungry, there's a few hours left of sunlight to engage in other activities, and most people shut down (for a while).
My advice is to use that specific time--exactly 5 p.m. each day, no excuses--to follow a quick ritual. It's designed to coincide with my seven-minute morning routine, which is something about 14,000 people have shared on social media so far and seem to be doing regularly. The basic idea is to get a quick read on what you have accomplished that day. The main goal is to come up with one thing you feel good about, want to celebrate, or just need to acknowledge. Here's how to do it.
1. Be rigorous about the time
One of the keys to success in using this daily ritual is to be diligent about the time. I don't recommend setting a timer or adding a meeting notice to a calendar, because those are easy to ignore. Instead, commit to stopping at 5 p.m. and doing this for at least one week. If you stop at 5 p.m. each day for one week, it might become a habit.
2. Write down your greatest accomplishment
Here's the real meat of the exercise. (By the way, this is just an exercise--it's not meant to be anything too daunting or complex, because we all want to end the day and move on.) You'll need a journal, of course, but you can also use an app like Evernote or Google Keep. Write down one thing you accomplished that day. It should be your crowning achievement for the day. I might write down that I reached 8,000 followers on Twitter (er, some day--I'm not quite there yet). Or that I completed the one interview for the day that really mattered. Maybe it was a big sales deal, or a word of praise from a co-worker. What made you the happiest? What was your high point?
3. Revel in that one thing for a few minutes
I'm a big believer in the concept of taking time to revel in something. The idea is to ponder, reflect, rehearse, and recall the big event of the day. There's something about how the human brain works that it likes to reflect on something--it seems to enter our long-term memory that way and lingers in our thoughts. This is a huge motivator for the week, especially if you aren't that productive the next day. At least you did one thing! You sort of have to let that success wash over you for at least a few minutes.
4. Don't worry if you had only one small success
Is your one thing from the day a little minor? That's OK. Maybe you made a new friend at work. Or maybe you finally figured out how to use a new business app. I usually recommend the one thing that comes to mind first--it reached your synapses quickly for a reason. You won't reach a major milestone each day, but there will be something you can claim as an accomplishment. It's OK if you have to look through your email or even check what you did that day.
5. Tell someone about it
I love how people write to me and tell me they are doing 'The Seven' on a routine basis. That's really cool! It's helping them stay productive. With the 'one thing' ritual, you can share your success right at 5 p.m. or shortly after, either on social media or in person. Give yourself permission to brag a little. Let people know about the one thing you achieved that day. Sharing solidifies the accomplishment and allows other people to acknowledge your work, which is a critical part of success.
6. Track your week, your month, or even your year
Yes, I am referencing the show Friends by saying this: Track your progress over time. It's super easy, because you only have to write down the big accomplishments. Do you know the definition of success? Accomplishing many small things over time. Do you know the definition of wisdom? Making several small wise decisions over time. Do you know the definition of productivity? You get the idea. Small steps lead to big things. Track your daily accomplishments over time as a way to look back and celebrate them.
That's it--short and sweet. It works because it motivates you, not by adding pressure (you better accomplish something) but by giving you a chance to reflect each day on what worked. It then becomes part of your highlight reel. It's like building a complex piece of machinery--every cog and wheel counts. Add up what you did to reach your goals. Keep a record of successes. When you get a few under your belt, let me know.