133: Success & Failure

1 Like

At the beginning of the episode @MacSparky and @mikeschmitz mentioned their issues bouncing back and forth between paper journaling and digital journaling. Odd as it may seem, I actually do both, every day, because they’re really doing different things for me.

  • The paper journal is therapy. I get the benefit from the act of writing itself. This is where I celebrate success, acknowledge frustrations, write down what I’m grateful for, etc. The point is how I feel about the day; I record what happened only in the context of dealing with my reaction to it.
  • The digital journal is for looking at later. This is where I write about what happened. I do this in Day 1 so I can attach pictures. It’s all about putting down detail so that in the future I can look back on things.

The odd thing is that I was journaling both on paper and digitally for months before I really sorted all this out. I knew it was working for me, but it took be a while to realize why it was working. Once I did, though, it really sharpened up the difference between the two journals and helped me use each of them better.

At the same time I came to another realization about my digital journal. It’s ok if the vast majority of the days that I record in there are pretty boring (not really a problem with the paper journal since my reactions to a boring’day can be as strong as my reactions to an interesting one). This is where my journaling habit has broken down in the past: thinking that the boring days weren’t worth recording. What I realized is that by journaling what happened on the boring days I’m establishing the habit so that when an interesting day comes along I’ll record it. If I don’t put in the time recoding the less interesting stuff, days that I absolutely want to remember come along and I don’t even think about journaling them because I don’t have an established habit. So I’ll pay the boring day tax in order to ensure that the interesting ones get recorded as well.


I have the same difficulty @MacSparky does; I have a shutdown routine where I review and select the 3 most important things to get done the next day. I’ve found that when I do this it makes a huge positive difference for me. When I do my planning the day before, I wake up with a sense of purpose and focus that gets things done. When I don’t, I feel like I’m floundering around, feel nebulous about what I’m going to do, have a hard time getting focused. So why do I skip this simple step about 50% of the time? I have no clue! It’s highly frustrating, and the source of the frustration is me.


I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself. My suspicion is that this is a matter of being tired at the end of a long day. This is why I don’t take this approach.

Instead, I establish my weekly and daily goals during my weekly review. I do those early in the morning because that’s when I’m freshest. By the end of the day I’m pretty tired but, of course, I get up at 4:30 or 5 and I’m at the office by 6 so I may have a little bit of an excuse. At least, that is what I tell myself. :grin:

I do thinking nailing that end-of-day habit is a real key. Shawn Blanc asked me to do a bit for his upcoming productivity seminar and I think I’m going to do my entire segment on this alone.

Good ideas @ChrisUpchurch I find I’m using pen and paper a few times a week. Maybe I should try to do that more often.

Far be it from me to argue with the guru. :grin: I’m sure that is best practice for most.

But my weekly Friday review, blocking priority tasks for each day of the following week and time blocking three hours each morning for that deep and project work works great for me. :grin:

Yes, I do think part of the problem is that I’m tired toward the end of the day. My highest energy levels are typically in the morning. But I’m typically not so tired that I couldn’t do it. During the time that I would be planning the next day I’m typically sitting in the living room reading and highlighting non-fiction books on my iPad. If I have enough energy to do that, I should have enough energy to pick my focus work for the next day! I think there’s something else going on here that I can’t put my finger on …

1 Like

@MacSparky I’d love to see that presentation, but my understanding is to have access to that seminar I’d have to be signed up for the middle level of the Focus Academy. Any chance you might make your presentation a separate video in your blog? Or perhaps that would be an excellent topic for one of your future webcasts?

I have tried to set daily tasks for the week on Sunday, but it just doesn’t work for me. I found that my week never went quite like I planned, and I found myself in the same situation that I do when I don’t do my planning the day before; not knowing what I’m doing when I wake up. I find that it’s much more effective for me to do that planning the afternoon prior.

As I stated above, I’m sure that is true for most so I’m not arguing the point in general, only sharing my experience. Anything can happen during the week but so can things change the next day. :grin: The “secret” for me is adhering to the three hour block of time each day, 6:30-9:30. This keeps me on track notwithstanding unexpected events during the week. :grin:

I have journaled my entire life. I sorta do it by hand as I often use an Apple Pencil to get it on in there.

I often write in Spanish so nosey people usually can’t read it.

I LOVE to write!!! I just do it when I want to and don’t worry or fret when I don’t do it because I know I WILL write!

Yes, I agree completely. My power time is about 8-11, even though I get up between 4:30-5:30 most mornings. I do my Readwise highlights review and work through blog posts in Feedly before breakfast. Thanks so much for your ideas!


We talk about it a lot on Focused, but I’ll be doing something more formal about it at some point.

Guys, please stop talking about a sabbatical when all you really do is taking a short break from work. Guess you also don’t call it a journey when you’re just going to the grocery store.

Using the word sabbatical in this context is wrong and preposterous.

1 Like

Given that it derives from sabbath, which is a break from work of only a single day, I think using sabbatical to describe a week off work is perfectly valid.


Are you always writing your own dictionary?

@vco1 actually, @ChrisUpchurch is absolutely correct. The word sabbath is from the Hebrew שַׁבָּת, which means cease, rest, complete rest or desist. With the exception of The Sabbath and the sabbatical years, a timeframe is not specified.

1 Like

The Old Testament refers to God’s “day of rest” most famously in Genesis, but Sabbath referring to an entire year of rest is mentioned in Leviticus (25:3-5):

Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof;

But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.

That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land.

Yes, which is why I wrote “ the sabbatical years.” :grin: