The nightly review

Over the years of listening to Tim Ferriss Podcast interviews, reading Ryan Holiday, reading Seneca, reading a lot of articles on meditation, productivity and being profoundly influenced by certain philosophies from Stoicism and Buddhism – these have led me to develop a night routine. As a part of this nightly routine (when I’ve not fallen off the wagon), before I go to sleep, I do my “Nightly Review” in my everything-book.

The questions I ask are

What did I do right today?

This can be a highlight reel of my accomplishments of the day, or just a list of tasks I did. Sometimes, it is a short list of keywords, sometimes I wax lyrical. I almost always answer this first – to start on a positive note.

What did I do wrong today?

This can be an emotional landmine or a wake-up call. This is the section where I list/write about tasks I didn’t do, goals I didn’t reach. More importantly, this is the section I take stock of my behavior for the day – especially the unsavory behaviors – was I mean? gossipy? was I distracted? was I angry? frustrated and vengeful? This is the log of my human foibles, to try to recognize them and better myself tomorrow.

What is left undone?

What needs to be done tomorrow? What should have been done today but didn’t get done? What was started today but not finished today. A launch-board for tomorrow.

Did I choose courage over comfort today?

This is a Brene Brown question which has made a big difference in what I tend to look for in my day. A way to push past my natural inhibitions and reservations. To be more generous, to step out of my comfort zone. I try to have at-least one occasion every day where I choose courage – so I have an answer when I face this question at the end of the day.

I also engage in an evening meditation, just before going to bed. This takes the form of a Marcus-style philosophical diary (not for publication!), during which I revisit the events of the day, asking myself the three famous questions posed by Epictetus: What did I do wrong? What did I do (right)? What duty’s left undone?

– Professor Massimo Pigliucci in this New York Times article

April 15, 2017