We move so fast now.  We spend our lives driving things forward, looking to the future, pushing ahead.

But often pushing ahead just means doing more of what you’re doing.  And that’s not so terrible when everything’s going great.  But what if you’re overwhelmed? Or things aren’t running smoothly?  Well, then it’s not the best idea to keep doing the same thing.  Even if you do it in a forceful, moving forward kind of way.

You will move forward faster if you stop and look back.

What if I told you that there’s an activity that takes 5 minutes a day that could save you hours every week?  And it will reduce the feeling of overwhelm and make you a better manager.

This is all you need to do. 

Stop for five minutes at the end of your work day and think about what you did today.

Ask yourself

·         What was my biggest achievement today?

·         What went well?  And why?

·         What could’ve gone better? And why?

·         What is my priority for tomorrow?

That’s it.

Grab a piece of paper (or there’s a template if you want it in this set of goodies) and write down your thoughts.  It should take you no more than 5 minutes.

So why are daily review questions for managers so beneficial?

1.       You can think about what wasted your time today whilst it’s fresh in your mind.  It will make you more aware next time and find ways around it.

2.       You can check in how focused you were. Did you achieve everything you wanted to today? If not, what got in your way?

3.       It gives you clarity on what to focus on tomorrow.  Get that priority task in your calendar to make sure it gets done.  Recognise what got in your way today and plan ahead.

4.       You’ll improve as a manager.  How did you deal with the situations you faced today?  Did you keep your emotions in check?  Did you do things for the right reasons?  What will you do next time?

5.       It gives you confidence.  Some days are tough from start to finish.  And it’s easy to dwell on the challenges and your perceived failures. This five minute task forces you to think about what went well.  Dig deep, there will always be something.

6.       The daily review closes down the day.  Writing things down can reduce the tendency to stew over things overnight.  So get it down on paper, switch off and enjoy your evening.

How to do it?

You can just mull these things over in your mind but I recommend you capture your thoughts somewhere.  It somehow makes it feel more real.  And it’s valuable to look back and recognise how far you’ve come and any patterns that emerge. 

You can use the questions above to prompt you, or think of ones that resonate more.  Alternatively just do a brain dump.  Write without thinking.  Just get it out there.  But remember you are looking for the successes as well as areas to improve.  This should not be an exercise about beating yourself up!

Pen and paper. 

I’d recommend you find a notebook solely for this purpose so you can see your progression.  There are also some great planners you can buy such as The Busy Manager Planner

Daily Review Questions Template

Prefer to have something set out for you? I’ve created a simple free template for daily review questions that you can get here.  Just print and file the completed ones together


If you prefer your thoughts to be manifested through the keyboard, something like google docs or Evernote is great so you can access it from anywhere.

If you like a challenge, you may like 750words.com.   It encourages you to brain dump 750 words a day by giving you points every day you do.  The daily review will work with far fewer words but if you like to ‘gamify’ things, this could be for you.  (This will take you more than 5 minutes a day though!)


Super easy, do it anywhere kind of approach.  There are a multitude of apps out there including the 5 Minute Journal and Grid Diary

Video blog

Grab your phone, switch on the video and talk.  Job done!

Record on your phone

Alternatively, use your phone to record yourself talking.  Easy to do on your commute home (just pretend there’s someone on the other end if you’re on the train!)

Does it have to be daily?

Yes, for your working week at least.  As with anything, consistency is the key but don’t give up when you miss a day or two.   I also do a weekly review to round up my week before I start planning the next one (There’s a free template for the Weekly Review here too)

Make your daily review questions a habit

You need to make this a habit and that’s the hardest thing about this activity. 

For this you might find the concept of ‘habit stacking’ useful.   You attach this activity to something you do every day.  So think about your routines as your day comes to an end.  Can you do the review as your power down your pc?  Perhaps as soon as you get on the train on the way home?  Or record it on your phone as you walk to your car? 

The bottom line is this.  Stick with this and you will see the big changes in your productivity.  Personally for me it’s been a game changer.  I have been doing this consistently since the beginning of January and I’ve been way more productive and I’m more self-aware of how I deal with situations. 

5 minutes a day for all of the above.  Surely it’s worth a try.

Bonus tip

This is powerful when you do it alone, it’s like dynamite if you get your team into it too.   Start by reflecting back on the week in your team meetings or one to ones.  Questions like this will help

·         Where did we waste time this week?

·         Did we achieve everything we want to focus on?

·         What did we learn to make us better?

·         What’s our big priority for today/this week?

·         Get more daily review questions here

I want to make this really easy for you.  I have pulled together a Daily Review Questions pack.  It includes a template for daily and a weekly review, questions to ask your team so they get onboard with this review process too

Join the conversation

What questions would you ask yourself at the end of each day to make the next one better?  Let me know in the comments!