Sales Coaching Blog

Best Way To Use the Last 5 Minutes of Your Day

Posted by Kristi Shoemaker

March 14, 2011

Posted by Kristi Shoemaker

I ran across this article written by Peter Bregman for the Harvard Business Review.  It speaks to the importance of creating a learning environment and provides some simple tips to get you started.

To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.

Enjoy this excerpt!

I'm often amazed at how many times something has to happen to me before I figure it out. I believe that most of us get smarter as we get older. But somehow, despite that, we often make the same mistakes. On the flip side — but no less comforting — we often do many things right and then fail to repeat them.

There's a simple reason for it: we rarely take the time to pause, breathe, and think about what's working and what's not. There's just too much to do and no time to reflect.
I was once asked: if an organization could teach only one thing to its employees, what single thing would have the most impact? My answer was immediate and clear: teach people how to learn. How to look at their past behavior, figure out what worked, and repeat it while admitting honestly what didn't and change it.

If a person can do that well, everything else takes care of itself. That's how people become life-long learners. And it's how companies become learning organizations. It requires confidence, openness, and letting go of defenses. But here's what it doesn't require: much time.

It only takes a few minutes. About five actually. A brief pause at the end of the day to consider what worked and what didn't.

Here's what I propose:

Every day, before leaving the office, save a few minutes to think about what just happened. Look at your calendar and compare what actually happened — the meetings you attended, the work you got done, the conversations you had, the people with whom you interacted, even the breaks you took — with your plan for what you wanted to have happen. Then ask yourself three sets of questions:

  • How did the day go? What success did I experience? What challenges did I endure?

  • What did I learn today? About myself? About others? What do I plan to do — differently or the same — tomorrow?

  • Who did I interact with? Anyone I need to update? Thank? Ask a question? Share feedback?


This last set of questions is invaluable in terms of maintaining and growing relationships. It takes just a few short minutes to shoot off an email — or three — to share your appreciation for a kindness someone extended, to ask someone a question, or to keep someone in the loop on a project.

If we don't pause to think about it, we are apt to overlook these kinds of communications. And we often do. But in a world where we depend on others to achieve anything in life, they are essential.

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Peter Bregman speaks, writes, and consults on leadership. He is the CEO of Bregman Partners, Inc., a global management consulting firm, and the author of Point B: A Short Guide To Leading a Big Change. Sign up to receive an email when he posts.

Topics: collaborative leadership

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