Gaining a Sense of Achievement Through Memorable Moments

Do you seem to be busy all the time but then realise at the end of many days you don’t feel like you’ve really achieved anything? That if someone asked you what was the best thing about the day you wouldn’t have an answer? Me too!

I recently read Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky. As I was reading I quickly realised that the approach they were suggesting not only made a lot of sense but that I wanted to try it out right away, while I was partway through the book. This almost never happens to me; I generally wait till I’ve finished the book before wanting to put anything into practice.

The concept is to find a highlight in the day. To plan in advance what is the thing that you’ll look back on and see as the best bit of the day. It could be because you achieved something on a project, accomplished a task, found joy or simply had a great time. This article from the Make Time blog explains further.

Boat on lake with sunlight reflecting on water
Image by McKayla Crump via Unsplash

There is more to it than that, particularly around developing a laser focus on your highlight so that you avoid distractions and can give it your full attention. But it was when I read about the highlight concept that I knew I wanted to take action.

I strongly believed that the ‘highlight in advance’ approach would help me to be feel more fulfilled at work and to be more intentional with my free time — both things that I’ve identified as being really important for me.

I decided that I wanted to identify a non-work highlight every day as well as a work highlight on working days.

Work highlights

As part of my end of the work day ritual I always identify the tasks that I want to achieve on the next day. Over the past couple of months I’ve also ordered those tasks so that I don’t need to make a decision in the morning about where to start. The first task gets tackled first.

I’ve added to this routine by identifying which task will be my highlight. If at this point there is nothing on my list that I believe is important enough to become my highlight then I review my longer term to do list to see what I should incorporate into the next day’s tasks.

I edit the highlight task to start with a star emoji✨. This is definitely not an essential step but for me it is part of making the decision intentionally. I then look at my calendar and work out when the best time in the day will be for me to fully focus on that task. I add it to my calendar as an event (with my availability set as busy) and tag it with the highlight category I’ve created so that it’s visually obvious. I choose a time where I am less likely to be interrupted, I won’t be thinking about an upcoming meeting and when I know my energy levels will be higher.

The next day, when I reach the highlight time, I set my status to Do not disturb and close my work email and messaging apps. This has taken some doing as my default is to have both open in case there’s anything that needs a quick response. However I have decided that the chances of anything not being able to wait an hour or two once a day are slim. If someone really needs me then they can call.

Non-work highlights

I take a similar approach to my non-work highlights. However here it is not necessarily a task; it could be an event I already have scheduled (such as a meal out with friends). If it is a task then I add the star emoji to it in my personal tasks app. (I use Blitz on my Android phone.)

If it’s already in my calendar I edit it to add the highlight category and also the star. If not then I add a new event on my calendar. As I said, it’s not always a task or project. I might want to sit and learn a new song on the guitar, take the time to call a friend to catch-up, or perhaps I’ve had a really busy week and I just want to spend an hour or two lost in a good book. Just something that when I look back on the day I can see as a highlight.

Today my non-work highlight is writing and publishing this article! Life has been really hectic and/or hot recently and I wanted to get myself back into the writing habit.

I don’t need to worry about being disturbed as much at home as I’m lucky enough to live alone. As far as distractions from the outside world, my phone stays on the hall table anyway, so as long as my highlight isn’t taking place in my small hallway I should be fine…

And the first draft of this article is almost finished, so it appears to be working!

I should say at this point that although you could start trying this approach out for yourselves from just what I’ve written in this article, I really recommend reading the whole book. Or at the very least having a look at the book’s website:

Hopefully if you’re also looking to make better use of your time and improve your level of satisfaction at work and/or at home you will find this approach helpful. If so please do come back and leave a comment to let me know!



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Lara Savory

Lara Savory

Reviewing the way I live, the choices I make & the things I discover. Sharing in case my thoughts are useful to others. Publishing weekly(ish).